The US has suffered total humiliation in Afghanistan. The US and its puppet regime had no popular support. The Taliban did. Over the last 20 years Western interventionism has been an abject failure. The US’s role as a global power will never recover from the defeats suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Libya and Syria. The US hugely overestimated its strength and has paid a massive price. In 2001 it believed that its unipolarity would last indefinitely and that the new century would be an American century. China, for sure, will not make the same kind of mistake in Afghanistan. It is a very different kind of power. Read more >
The G7 meeting in June was an eloquent illustration of the extent to which the G7 has been seriously side-lined by China’s rise. Once the G7 effectively ruled the world, now its power and authority have visibly drained away. Biden had hoped to mobilise European support for his anti-China crusade but predictably he didn’t get very far. Read more >
The pandemic has played a central role in the worsening relationship between the US and China. It was Trump’s pivotal weapon in shifting US public opinion against China. As a result, in the West Covid-19 was always dominated by geo-politics rather than science. One of the best illustrations of the West’s attempts to politicise the issue has been the demand for an independent international team to be sent to China to investigate the causes and origins of the virus. It felt like a return to the nineteenth century when China enjoyed little sovereignty. Now, of course, things are very different as the West keeps discovering. Perhaps a more apposite proposal would be an international investigation into the dismal failure of the West’s handling of the pandemic…
The real test of governing systems is not their performance over a brief period like the last seventy years, but over a much longer historical period. For the last two millennia, the Chinese system of governance has been far superior to all others. The West insists that its system of democracy cannot be improved upon and is of universal application, China included. There are, however, strong reasons to believe that the future of Western democracy is far from certain. Certainly over the last four decades it has been out-performed by China’s governance.
The Chinese Communist Party is like no other party in the world. It requires us to rethink the very idea of what a political party is. The West believes the CPC is no more than a clone of the CPSU. In fact, it could hardly be more different. The CPSU was a catastrophic historical failure: the CPC is hugely successful. The former was frozen; the latter highly innovative, constantly on the move. It is deeply rooted in Chinese society, a hybrid of Chinese Marxism and Confucianism, shaped by and as complex as Chinese civilization of which it is a fundamental part.
The US-China High Level Dialogue in Anchorage was highly revealing. The strong criticisms made by Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, in the presence of the global media, about the United States suggested a new kind of self-confidence on the part of China in its growing strength. It certainly took Blinken and Sullivan by surprise. The US message, meanwhile, is that Biden is reading from the Trump playbook on China, with a soft edge or two.
After the handover in 1997, Hong Kong was based on one country two systems. These were never equivalent: how could they be? The essence of the handover was the passing of sovereignty from the UK to China. One country took precedence: two systems was shaped by and only existed in the context of the former. The West ignored this crucial difference or, at least, greatly played down its importance and significance and, what is more, its legitimacy. Now China is reasserting the primacy of one country over two systems: the divisions which have undermined Hong Kong will be replaced by a new sense of authority and stability. But Hong Kong’s problems are not just political. The failure to tackle the socio-economic problems bequeathed by the British – an oligopolistic colonial-style economy, huge inequality and, above all, the control by tycoons of the supply of land, resulting in sky-high property prices – has understandably led to a mood of resentment and pessimism, especially among the young. Fundamental socio-economic reforms, alongside political reform, will be necessary if hearts and minds are to be won.
What will happen to Europe? Will it continue with a broadly pro-American orientation, or will it pursue an increasingly independent position? Either way, the consequences will be far-reaching. At the heart of the West lie the US and Europe. If Europe seeks a more autonomous role, then the West will be seriously weakened. A fascinating ECFR poll published recently reveals a deep disillusionment amongst Europeans towards the US. Europeans are becoming less Atlanticist and more independent-minded. As the recent EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment suggests, the EU will develop its own relationship with China, rather than acting in tandem with the US. What once drew Europe westward, the over-arching importance of the US economy, is now drawing it eastward: the centre of gravity of the global economy is now in the east. Read my latest column for the Global Times.
The prospects for the US look bleak. With continuing rapid decline, rampant inequality, falling living standards, rising unemployment, and China becoming the world’s largest economy, the divisions will grow ever greater. The Capitol Hill insurrection was more like the beginning than the end of the polarisation and turmoil. The US is in danger of imploding, which will only hasten its decline. My latest column for the Global Times.
We are approaching the end of December. The pandemic struck Europe and the US in March. That is now 10 months ago. Much of Europe is once more in varying degrees of lockdown. In the US, COVID-19 continues to spread unabated. The situation in the West is now as bad as at any time since it all began. With the honourable exception of New Zealand, the West has singularly failed to quell, let alone eliminate, the virus. Without a vaccine, evidence suggests that the West will have to learn to live with the coronavirus indefinitely. Read more >