In the new cold war, it could be seen that there are two groups: the autocracy camp, centring around China, Russia and the SCO, and the democracy camp, centring around most western democracies in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea. This article will focus on the democracy camp.
It is much stronger than the autocracy camp, especially in military strength. America remains the only invincible superpower now, and perhaps for at least 2 decades in the future.
However, most countries in this camp are in economic difficulties now. Figures for the first five months this year indicate that China, the largest economy in the autocracy camp, lacked steam and may have a hard landing.
However, the situation is quite different in China than in the US and EU. China has lots of room to reduce interest rate and loosen money supply, as it has successfully controlled inflation. In contrast, the US, EU and Japan have already reduced their interest rates to almost the lowest level.
A good way for the democracy camp to maintain its superiority is first of all to win over China, which strives even now to be close to the United States. The best evidence is China’s permission for the blind human rights activist to move to America, instead of confronting the US on that issue.
An even better way is to turn China into a democracy. For this, Western countries had to first of all find competent leaders to bring economic prosperity back to their countries. With the example of prosperity in democracies, those who advocate democracy in China now may make their arguments for democracy much more convincing.
However, US leaders have been sticking to their old cold war strategy. Developing and using military strength is their only approach in resolving any problem in spite of their repeated failure in this respect.
Chinese leaders, however, pursue a new approach of cold war. Their major strategy in countering the US attempt to encircle China is economic cooperation. China’s major activities in the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit were provision of loans, professional training, and similar measures to struggling economies, instead of helping them develop their military strength.
What is the US doing at the same time? US Defence Secretary Panetta visited Vietnam recently for better military ties with Vietnam. Vietnam did not want to offend China as it has economic interests in maintaining good relations with China, even though it has maritime territorial disputes with China. The military approach obviously failed in Vietnam.
What about India? It also has border disputes with China, and needs strong military force to counter China and Pakistan. Panetta regards India as an important partner, and has promised to provide India with high-tech weapons. Fine, but what has the US got from India? Nothing. India is not even willing to stop the purchase of oil from Iran. It seems that for India, economic interests are also more important than military strength to gain hegemony in South Asia.
China has established free-trade relations with ASEAN, and is making earnest efforts for such relations with Japan and South Korea. America is also making efforts in this respect, but what can America give other countries? America is taking jobs back home. That means reduction of its market and investment for other countries. China, however, is investing heavily in Africa and quite a few Asian countries and providing jobs for the cheap labour there. China’s huge growing market offers other countries great opportunities.
Establishing an alliance with Russia also proves Chinese leader’s wisdom in countering US new strategy of return to Asia. Russia was in great difficulties when China switched to its side. It has lost all its Eastern Europe allies to the West, along with parts of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine and Byelorussia. The Jasmine Revolution has been causing it to lose its sphere in North Africa and the Middle East. Both Syria and Iran are very important to Russia. Chinese support for the Syrian autocracy means to Russia that China is a friend in need and therefore a friend indeed.
A second Sino-Russian honeymoon has thus begun. Cooperation with Russia in developing eastern Russia, and use of Russia’s rich resources, will greatly benefit both China and Russia. The greatest threat will be the cooperation in developing advanced weapons. If that happens in earnest, the US will not be able to maintain its military superiority for more than one decade.
Moreover, in their recent internal power struggle, Chinese leaders have overcome conservative resistance to China’s fourth wave of economic liberalisation, to encourage private economy and reduce the monopoly of the state-owned sector. They will thus provide an environment for fair competition. As a result, new high-tech enterprises may mushroom in its private sector, and some of them may grow into giants like Microsoft and Apple.
Chinese leaders are clever in seeing the great potential of China’s private sector. The success of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia in the 1930s and 1940s proved Chinese people’s business acumen in becoming rich from nothing when China was very poor, and could not give them any support. On the contrary, the overseas Chinese were one of the major sources of funds for the Chinese government when China was invaded by Japan.
When China began to open up to the outside world, overseas Chinese were the major source of foreign investment for China. China has too large a population to provide jobs for all of them. The development of private enterprises at home and abroad will not only increase wealth but also provide a huge outlet for China’s excessive labor force.
Is it then hopeless for the democracy camp? No, history has proved that when there is a crisis in America, wise leaders do emerge. China, however, has leaders with super wisdom because of the emergence of a new generation of talented intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution. That is too long a story to be elaborated here, but there is detailed description of it in my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements.”
As pointed out in my book, when the youngest of that generation, the Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang generation, retires, there perhaps will not be such wise leaders again. The new generation emerged when the best of Chinese intellectuals had no career prospects but to be engaged in politics, to gain dominance of the state and Party, and recover their rights to be engaged in intellectual activities.
Now, like in the US, talented people have lots of career opportunities in various professions other than politics. As a political career is not so lucrative for an honest man as a business career, the number of honest talented political leaders will probably be small ten years from now
- The beginning of a new Cold War: Putin’s Beijing visit (chinadailymail.com)
- The new cold war: the autocracy camp (chinadailymail.com)