The overwhelming assumption in the West is that the world, with a few exceptions, is strongly opposed to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. The West itself, including the great majority of Europe, seems to be of one voice in its condemnation. But worldwide the picture is rather more complicated. In the UN General Assembly on March 3, while 141 countries condemned Russia’s invasion and called for an immediate withdrawal, 35 countries abstained and five voted against. In the recent vote to exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, 93 countries voted in favour, 58 abstained and 24 were against. Read more >
President Biden’s Dialogue on Democracy seeks to set the agenda and put China on the defensive. The problem is that Western democracy is in serious trouble, as the Insurrection at Capitol Hill in January demonstrated. Western democracy faces two deep problems. First, it is in trouble at home and losing support. Second, China has been out-performing the West in governance terms for several decades.
China and the US share two problems: acute inequality and the growing power of the tech giants. There, alas, the similarity ends: China is taking action on both fronts, the United States on neither. It should be the other way round. Both problems have been around a lot longer in the US than in China. The West should be watching and seeing what it might learn from China.
Only three ‘Historic Resolutions’ have ever been adopted by the Chinese Communist Party. They are a rare event and thus to be taken seriously. The one adopted in November 2021 has three striking characteristics: the emphasis on the historical continuity of the CPC; the sheer self-confidence that the resolution exudes; and the vigour and optimism with which it looks to the future. Decried and denounced it may be in the West, but the CPC is a remarkable organisation, by far the world’s most important political party.
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.