China’s European Moment Has Arrived

The simplicities of the postwar order have just begun to pass into history, writes Patrick Lawrence.

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Xi Jinping’s visits to Rome, Paris and Monaco last week. In bringing his much-remarked Belt and Road Initiative to the center of Europe, the Chinese president has faced the Continent with the most fundamental question it will have to resolve in coming decades: Where does it stand as a trans–Atlantic partner with the U.S. and — as of Xi’s European tour — the western flank of the Eurasian landmass? The simplicities of the postwar order, to put the point another way, have just begun to pass into history.

In Rome, the populist government of Premier Giuseppe Conte brought Italy into China’s ambitious plan to connect East Asia and Western Europe via a multitude of infrastructure projects stretching from Shanghai to Lisbon and beyond. The memorandum of understanding Xi and Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio signed calls for joint development of roads, railways, bridges, airports, seaports, energy projects and telecommunications systems. Along with the MoU, Chinese investors signed 29 agreements worth $2.8 billion.

Xi Jinpeng: Plenty to celebrate with Europe. (Wikimedia Commons)

Xi Jinpeng: Plenty to celebrate in Europe. (Wikimedia Commons)

Italy is the first Group of 7 nation to commit to China’s BRI strategy and the first among the European Union’s founding members. It did so two weeks after the European Commission released “EU–China: A Strategic Outlook,” an assessment  of China’s swift arrival in Europe that goes straight to the core of the Continent’s ambivalence. Here is the operative passage in the E.C. report:

“China is, simultaneously, in different policy areas, a cooperation partner with whom the E.U. has closely aligned objectives, a negotiating partner with whom the E.U. needs to find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”

There is much in this document to chew upon. One is the mounting concern among EU members and senior officials in Brussels about China’s emergence as a global power. This is natural, providing it does not tip into a contemporary version of the last century’s Yellow Peril. At the same time, the Continent’s leaders are highly resistant to the confrontational posture toward China that Washington urges upon them. This is the wisest course they could possibly choose: It is a strong indicator that Europeans are at last seeking an independent voice in global affairs.

Looking for Unity

They are also looking for a united EU front in the Continent’s relations with China. This was Emmanuel Macron’s point when Xi arrived in Paris. The French president made sure German Chancellor Angela Merkel and E.C. President Jean–Claude Juncker were there to greet Xi on his arrival at the Élysée Palace. The primary reason Italy sent shockwaves through Europe when it signed onto Xi’s signature project is because it effectively broke ranks at a highly charged moment.

But unity of the kind Macron and Merkel advocate is likely to prove elusive. For one thing, Brussels can impose only so far on the sovereignty of member states. For another, no one wants to miss, in the name of an E.U. principle, the opportunities China promises to bring Europe’s way. While Macron insisted on EU unity, he and Xi looked on as China signed contracts with Airbus, Électricité de France, and numerous other companies worth more than $35 billion.

There is only one way to read this: Core Europe can argue all it wants that China is unrolling a divide-and-conquer strategy, but one looks in vain for on-the-ground resistance to China’s apparent preference for bilateral agreements across the Continent. On his way home, Xi stopped in Monaco, which agreed in February to allow Huawei, China’s controversial telecoms company, to develop the principality’s 5G phone network.

In numerous ways, Italy was fated to demonstrate the likely shape of China’s arrival in Europe. The Conte government, a coalition led by the rightist Lega and the Five-Star Movement, has been a contrarian among EU members since it came to power last year: It is highly critical of Brussels and of other member states, it opposes EU austerity policies, it is fiercely jealous of its sovereignty in the EU context, and it favors better ties with Russia.

Closer to the ground, the Italian economy is weak and inward investment is paltry. Chinese manufacturers have made short work of Italian competitors in industries such as textiles and pharmaceuticals over the past couple of decades. A map, finally, tells us all we need to know about Italy’s geographic position: Its ports, notably Trieste at the northern end of the Adriatic, are gateways to the heart of Europe’s strongest markets.

 

 

Six proposed corridorsof Belt and Road Initiative, showing Italy inside circle, on maritime blue route. (Lommes, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

BRI’s six proposed corridors, with Italy circled, on maritime blue route. See Wikipedia’s “Belt and Road Initiative” entry for more details. Map not meant for latest national  boundaries. (Lommes, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

As the westward destination of Xi’s envisioned Belt and Road, Europe’s economic and political relations with China were bound to reach a takeoff point. The accord with Italy, Xi’s European tour and an EU–China summit scheduled to take place in Brussels on April 9 signal that this moment has arrived.

Shift in Relationship

But it is not yet clear whether Europeans have grasped the strategic magnitude of last week’s events. In effect, the Continent’s leaders have started down a path that is almost certain to induce a shift in the longstanding trans–Atlantic relationship. In effect, Europe is starting — at last — to act more independently while repositioning itself between the Atlantic world and the dynamic nations of the East; China first among them by a long way.

No European leader has yet addressed this inevitable question.

Let us not overstate this case. Trans–Atlantic ties have been increasingly strained since Barack Obama’s presidency. President Donald Trump’s antagonisms, most notably over the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear agreement, have intensified this friction. But there is still no indication that any European leader advocates a rupture in relations with Washington.

Can U.S.–European ties evolve gradually as China’s presence on the Continent grows more evident? This is the core question. Both sides will determine the outcome. The Europeans appear to be preparing for a new chapter in the trans–Atlantic story, but there is simply no telling how Washington will respond to a reduction in its long-unchallenged influence in Western European capitals.

There is one other question the West as a whole must face. The E.C.’s “strategic outlook” terms China “a systemic rival promoting alternative forms of governance.” There are two problems with this commonly sounded theme.

First, there is no evidence whatsoever that China has or ever will insist that other countries conform to its political standards in exchange for economic advantage. That may be customary practice among Western nations and at institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is not China’s.

Second, as we advance toward a condition of parity between West and non–West — an inevitable feature of our century — it will no longer be plausible to assume that the West’s parliamentary democracies set the standard by which all others can be judged. Nations have vastly varying political traditions. It is up to each to maintain or depart from them. China understands this. So should the West.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work via www.patreon.com/thefloutist.

If you value this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

Please visit our Facebook page where you can join the conversation by commenting on our articles in order to help defeat Facebook censorship.  While you are there please like and follow us, and share this piece!

44 comments for “China’s European Moment Has Arrived

  1. Larry
    April 6, 2019 at 19:15

    For the record, china is a totalitarian technocratic cesspool, exactly like the west.

  2. Gerry L Forbes
    April 5, 2019 at 10:38

    False dilemma. Just because the USA (or “the West”, if you prefer) is bad does not mean that China is good. China is a totalitarian state excelling in executions, incarceration, surveillance, censorship, cultural genocide and other reactionary practices (so maybe western governments “concerns” are really just envy?). As the leading producer of substandard goods (real and counterfeit) China is also the world’s worst polluter. They make nice noises about the future while continuing to build coal-fired power plants both at home and in Asia and Africa as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. China is the world’s top coal producer and is not going to start decommissioning coal-fired plants in significant numbers until it can find a market for their coal which won’t be easy since Russia, India, Kazakhstan and South Africa are also major coal producers. China also has (so far minor) imperial ambitions, claiming every rock in the South China Sea and building some where it finds none. Of course it’s just for their security but then so is the Belt and Road Initiative.

    And the EU isn’t the only one being cautious about the BRI; Russia is dragging its feet, too.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-lake-baikal-water-bottling-scandal-says-a-lot-about-russia-china-relations/5673238

    “Another important point is that Russia is currently trying to implement Putin’s “Great Society” socio-economic development program which prioritizes domestic infrastructure projects that would make the country more compatible with the Silk Road vision upon completion, so the case can be made that it’s better for Russia to take its time and not rush head-first into BRI until after it has the in-country capability to handle much larger capacities of trade on its own terms instead of disproportionately relying on Chinese foreign investment like Beijing’s many other partners do.”

    China’s economy has been the perpetual motion machine of this century bedazzling all who gaze on it. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine and China is about to come face to face with the contradictions of capitalism. And as China grows richer corruption has increased to the point that a scandal could erupt at any time. Of course Xi will root out corruption swiftly and forcefully (except for that of his cronies) cementing his position as Hero of the Republic and President for Life but nobody knows how the financial crisis will play out or even exactly what form it will take. How would China’s partners feel looking at a half built piece of infrastructure when Sugar Daddy has more pressing concerns than the future?

    The Chinese paper Global Times noted another reason the EU might have another reason to wish that individual nations not jump the gun on BRI. ” After China passes its foreign investment law, European countries will find more opportunities and equal treatment in China”. The Chinese might not wish to grant concessions that they already have in individual European countries. Also, if China is able to make BRI deals on an individual basis then China has a 100% say in the design of the European segment of BRI.

    The author and most of the media seem fixated on the oddly worded final phrase in the assessment of the Europe-China relationship (maybe with Brexit coming up they’ve already fired their English English translator). To me it reads as a sop to NATO or even “the confrontational posture toward China that Washington urges upon them” as the author puts it. To suggest that the West insists “that other countries conform to its political standards in exchange for economic advantage’ is just wrong. We do whatever is necessary to ensure our economic advantage, the form of government is irrelevant. “Democracy promotion” is just for the mindless masses and it does its job well enough.

    But to imply that China is not an international bully is plain ignorance (yes, I’m just cutting through the Gordian knot of the author”s weasel wording). Any country that allows the Dalai Lama to visit will get a scolding. We just laugh it off (and yes, China, we do laugh so give it up already) but the news never reports countries not getting a scolding because they cave and don’t let the Dalai Lama visit. They even have the economic power to change multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbusters that are afraid to lose the Chinese market. They insist and demand (never ask) that other countries ignore their customs, laws and even their constitutions and do China’s bidding.

    Such is the case with Canada after the Huawei CEO at the request of the USA. That decision may have been iffy (arresting a foreign national for an action that is not a crime in Canada and did not occur in the USA) but once it was made the government was unable to comply with China’s demand to release her because it cannot interfere in an ongoing legal process. This is not the case in China where the law is whatever it needs to be on a given day. So Canadians were arrested in China on specious charges and another had his sentence arbitrarily altered. Crude thugs that they are (a useful trait in a totalitarian society) they were unable to grasp that if the government repeatedly says it cannot interfere it just might be true they proceeded to discover that a shipment of canola seeds was infested with some pest. After that failed to elicit the proper response another shipment was found to have the same problem. So many coincidences in such a short time! So much for China being good.

    Should have realized that the author’s case would be weak to nonexistent when he brought up the yellow peril strawman, playing the race card (as in “I’m not playing the race card, but…”).

    All in all, a cheesy hit job. A “Russian” bot couldn’t have done better.

    • old geezer
      April 6, 2019 at 13:06

      an extremely eloquent reply.

      i’m so old i remember when china was brought into the community of nations , the world trade organization. the reasoning ( selling ) was to bring the nice people of china a higher standard of living such that they would naturally evolve to be … just like us. they would become a natural ally of the usa and evolve into a democratic government.

      how long does it take to admit failure ?

      or perhaps the reasoning was nothing more than a mercantilist con job.

  3. zhu
    April 4, 2019 at 02:27

    Note that US ‘democracy’ is very, very, oligarchic. Our ritual elections never change anything. Constant warfare, increasing poverty and backwardness, are the nom, no matter who is in the.White House, or ehich party controls.Congress.

  4. April 3, 2019 at 22:48

    I commend President Xi and President Conte to take the initiative developing a strong economic relationship between the powerhouse China and Europe. Politically I support the move away from the coercive, dictatorial embrace by the US. I encourage China and Europe to include Russia in this economic cooperation and enterprise. The US must be told that the way President Trump treats allies and enemies alike is completely unacceptable. Disclosure: I am a German citizen.

    • old geezer
      April 4, 2019 at 12:04

      be careful what you wish for. you might get it.

      https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13995/china-third-reich

      citizen of the USA , the country ( my grandfather ) that paid for your freedom

    • Josep
      April 7, 2019 at 03:26

      USA, the country that launched an illegal war in Iraq under false pretenses?

      Gatestone Institute threw accusations of anti-Semitism onto Poland in early 2018 when the country enacted its Holocaust law. Anecdotally, GI also seems to suck up to NATO, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it slavishly defends Israel as well. This can imply hasbara on GI’s part.

      Also, much of the carnage in both world wars would not have happened if it weren’t for the Anglo-American elites and bankers. And because it is usually the victors of war who write the history, many a Yank and Limey act entitled to bully other countries at the expense of their own interests. And even if the USA did “save” Britain in WWII (or as the neocons claim), that’s no excuse for America to be indefinitely worshipped as a force for good, especially when America’s refusal to go metric, obey international law or adopt healthcare is anything to go by.

      Look up the US national debt-to-GDP ratio, and compare it with that of China. How do you explain America’s $22 trillion debt? Is China raising hell in the Middle East?

    • old geezer
      April 8, 2019 at 15:27

      please understand this, uncle sam isn’t coming to your rescue next time

      i repeat, be careful what you wish for, you might get it

    • Josep
      April 8, 2019 at 22:57

      please understand this, uncle sam isn’t coming to your rescue next time

      As the USA implodes from within thanks to its self-induced $22 trillion debt, many European countries are turning to Russia for assistance. Unlike the USA, Russia has actual healthcare and paid maternity leave. And since Russia isn’t separated by a whole ocean like the USA, transportation of resources such as gas (e.g. the Nord Stream gas pipeline) will be much easier. Unfortunately, every time a European country tries to do business with Russia, the USA blackmails that country with threats of sanctions.

      Also, in both world wars (started by Britain BTW), the USA sat out in the sidelines until 1917 and 1942, respectively, and suffered relatively fewer casualties than did the European powers thanks to the fact that the USA is surrounded by two whole oceans and two neighboring countries Canada and Mexico, neither one of which posing a threat to American society. In the second world war, the Soviet Union did most of the hard work in defeating fascism.

      I don’t expect you to accept this, but NATO is obsolete. It served its purpose back when there was an ideological foe, the Soviet Union. Now that the Soviet threat is gone, NATO is no longer needed. And yet despite this, NATO would go on to expand beyond the Iron Curtain to include several former members of the Warsaw Pact. Then the bombing of Yugoslavia happened, and I’ll spare you the history lesson.

      For the record, I am American myself. Me saying what I said does not automatically make me a non-American, nor does it mean I hate my country. It is disingenuous to conflate criticism of American foreign policy with anti-Americanism.

  5. Antonio Costa
    April 2, 2019 at 17:31

    Does this mean global climate disruption, planet overshoot, 9th extinction, sea levels rising sinking island nations and most global metrapolisis is just passe?

    In the mid 1990s I read Head to Head by MIT economist Lester Thurow and muttered to myself “heaven help us if China with its 1.x billion follows Western resource consumption. We’ll need 2.5 Earths.

    I suppose we can compartmentalize even the end of life on the planet…

  6. earthling1
    April 2, 2019 at 12:25

    The BRI is coming, no matter what wrenches America tries to throw into the works.
    Communism in Russia is dead. Their brand of Capitalism has changed Russia into a modern weapons powerhouse.
    China’s hybrid brand of communism/capitalist free market is also becoming a modern weapons powerhouse and both countries are competing with the U.S. economically across the Eurasion landmass.
    The U.S. has not been capable of defeating a number of craphole countries ( N.Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Afganistan, Iraq, and Syria) , how could we ever hope to defeat a real country like China or Russia.
    America will have to capitulate to a mulitpolar world, or end all life on it.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    April 2, 2019 at 12:25

    Mao Zedong, who said: “The east wind will prevail over the west wind.”

  8. Vera Gottlieb
    April 2, 2019 at 12:21

    Time is coming to openly and honestly admit: the days of Western supremacy are coming to an end. No “empire” lasts forever.

    • old geezer
      April 2, 2019 at 23:22

      your social ranking score just improved, comrade.

      you will still be able to buy toilet paper this month

    • Brian Winsor
      April 3, 2019 at 18:30

      The truth hurts, doesn’t it. It’s okay, you’ll eventually come around to accepting reality.

    • old geezer
      April 4, 2019 at 11:44
    • Josep
      April 8, 2019 at 23:28

      Any attempt to replace the US dollar (fiat) with an alternative currency (e.g. one backed by oil) led to the USA using military action to force continued use of the dollar. For instance, when Saddam Hussein decided to sell oil in euros instead of dollars, America’s response was to execute him. Just for the crime of not using dollars. In other words, countries are forced (at gunpoint) to use dollars. How’s this for enslavement?

  9. old geezer
    April 2, 2019 at 10:38

    So the geniuses who run eurabia are ticked off at DJT for telling the emporer he has no Paris Treaty clothes …. then they kiss the toes of a real emporer whose country puts one coal fired power plant on line every week.

    I must be missing something, my knuckles are bloody.

    • rosemerry
      April 2, 2019 at 19:56

      You are missing the changes in China’s environmental policies and actions. Even Australia’s coal is scorned!Solar panels on sale at home and abroad, innovative transport and waste treatment, China is far ahead of the West (except, maybe, Germany!), and the 30 years of one-child policy , so derided by the individualistic West, has vastly reduced the population growth that would have occurred.

    • old geezer
      April 2, 2019 at 23:19

      like i said, my knuckles are bloody, good thing i don’t have to breathe peking aire

      i understand the emperor is on board with china going nuclear.

      he is after all a trained engineer. are their engineers better than our engineers ?
      or are their “socialists” just better than our “socialists.

      hey rosie, where do you live, shanghai ?

    • Tom Kath
      April 3, 2019 at 00:16

      I see by your title, your spelling, grammar, and smart arsed bigotry, that you are actually a teenager. At least rosemerry can write properly.

    • old geezer
      April 4, 2019 at 11:57

      are you sure ?

      but i did learn a new word last week, ad hominem.

      i read somewhere who ever succumbs to that method is admitting he has lost the debate.

      sorry about my knuckles, but what was bigoted ? actually, their “ socialists “ are demonstrably better than our “socialists”. can you say tiananmen square ? sure, i knew you could

      ps i wasn’t an english major

  10. mike k
    April 2, 2019 at 10:35

    Europe needs to let go of the fake memes of the US Empire’s program of world dominance. Backing the wrong horse in the world sweepstakes is a losing proposition.

  11. AnneR
    April 2, 2019 at 09:22

    A disappointing piece, all together. One gets (or this one did) the sense throughout that Lawrence has nostalgia for the post WWII US determined set up that is both NATO and the EC-EU, for and a trust in the trans-Atlantic relationship, and a distrust of all things Russian and Chinese.

    Huawei is “controversial” – meaning in fact that the USA can’t cope with the reality that China is ahead technologically. And Huawei’s products are, so far as I’m aware, cheaper than are, say, Apple’s – a weirdness, really, given the fact that Apple is produced in China and I doubt that it pays its Chinese workers more, or sufficiently more to warrant its exorbitant prices. Hauwei’s existence does not, as Lawrence suggests, mean anything more devious, underhanded than say an American product (whether the hardware or the programs) via which the NSA noses around (and has done for years). If the NSA (and other like US and UK entities) can, without much comment and even less opprobrium, spy on everyone around the world via their electronic devices, then why is it viewed as absolutely beyond the pale when – if – Russia and China do, or would do, the same? Indeed, why is it acceptable for corporate-capitalists in the shape of, e.g. Amazon and FB, to also “know” everything about you via your electronica so that they can profit from that (and probably pass on data to the secret spy agencies of the US), but not any company from those demonized countries?

    As for NATO (let alone the EU) – it is long past its use date. Long past. Europe is an integral part of the Eurasian continent (even the British Isles which once upon time had no water between them and the continental mass). Instead of threatening Russia (via the US’s military hardware right on Russia’s borders) and denouncing its legitimate moves, it should stop being the vassal of the US that it is and seek rapprochement and cooperative relations with all of its Eurasian neighbors.

    • oldgeezer
      April 2, 2019 at 10:45

      So much for freedom, eh ? Me thinks you’ll make a great slave.

    • AnneR
      April 2, 2019 at 12:46

      Slave? Hmm. So far as I am aware this country (US) still considers those it imprisons to be slaves. And the vast majority of the population are hardly “free,” whatever that might mean. Moreover, the US believes itself to be the planetary hegemon (i.e. imperial power, dictator extraordinaire), able to remove governments, leaders it likes not, that do not comply with its corporate-capitalist diktats, alter their forms of governance in order to enable US corporate-capitalists to run utter roughshod over their countries environments, indigenous, plunder their natural resources. The FUKUSIS countries worship Mammon AND Moloch (the latter feeding the former while getting rid of as many “unpeople” as possible). Why would one admire, prefer relationships like that???

    • old geezer
      April 4, 2019 at 23:30

      you make my point.

      you do not know what freedom means. it shows, and you’re not the only one.

    • Josep
      April 8, 2019 at 23:07

      AnneR hits the nail on the head. If you’re going to accuse her of not knowing what freedom means, try defining it in your own words. Good luck!

  12. Jeff Harrison
    April 1, 2019 at 23:37

    Oh, and by the way, Patrick, I note that your map has Crimea as a part of Ukraine and not Russia.

    • rosemerry
      April 2, 2019 at 20:04

      Why on earth would Americans, specialists in destroying sovereign nations, pretend they know more of USSR history and why Kruschev “gave” Crimea, with the important port, to Ukraine, at a time when nobody dreamed that the USSR would break up? Crimea was always Russian , the Battle of Sebastapol is deeply embedded in Russian history, the people there voted to rejoin Russia. Putin saw at once when the USA helped overthrow the Ukrainian elected President that the Port would become a NATO base and acted swiftly and there was no loss of life. Compare with Kosovo or Golan.

  13. Jeff Harrison
    April 1, 2019 at 23:35

    Don’t get too excited, Patrick. Elsewhere on Consortium news your colleague Mr. Spannaus reports that Italy is saying that there would be restrictions on deals with China and that Italy would continue to kowtow to the United States (well, Mr.Giorgetti didn’t exactly say that second thing but that’s what he meant). Italy is, I suppose, symbolic and, as such, has gotten people’s attention. I would hope that the Europeans take note of Washington’s continued attitude that we can essentially tell Europe what is acceptable behavior for vassal states who think they are sovereign and concluded these bilateral deals in Euros and Yuan to prove otherwise.

  14. Joe Tedesky
    April 1, 2019 at 23:24

    No matter how hard you try to sell yourself along with your product the client always reserves the right to ask, ‘what’s in it for me’. How long do you accept inferior service until you finally find a new service? Basically what I’m saying is this mindset I’m pointing too is also how countries work when allowed to act in their own sovereign interest. It’s true how you catch more bees with honey. So while China lubricates the geopolitical world with forward reaching improvements the USA throws sand into the gears bringing the nations effected by it’s instigating to a grinding halt. When Europeans see ME migrants running rampant through out their countries do these same Europeans associate China to this human overflow or do they see the stamp ‘Made in America’ written all over these refugees of forever war?

  15. nomad
    April 1, 2019 at 22:32

    This is an economic war between the U.S. and China. However, China working on making deals with U.S. allies:
    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/cold-war-us-china-trade-allies-by-minxin-pei-2019-03

    If China is able to get enough allies doing business with them, this will hurt U.S. trade, influence, and its economy.
    Talk about the Art of War grand strategy and stratagem of systems.
    If you can’t attack the U.S. directly, attack their allies.

  16. Tom Kath
    April 1, 2019 at 20:53

    The concluding passages are extremely astute. Westerners expose only their own intentions by ASSUMING that China would impose its own ideology on other nations. Let alone unilateral world dominance.

    • AnneR
      April 2, 2019 at 12:47

      Absolutely – your summation, that is.

  17. KiwiAntz
    April 1, 2019 at 19:04

    Joanna Lumley recently starred in a Documentary show series about the ancient Silk road which went into great detail about the wonderful, centuries old History of Trade that formerly existed between China & the Eurasian Continent! Marco Polo & Italy played a pivotal role in the past? Now Italy has taken a step to rekindle that alliance? China’s ambitious Belt & Road Initiative is recreating this modern day interpretation of the ancient Silk Road. For China its all about Trade, Trade, Trade. But for the dying Empire called America, all they see is Geopolitical Dominance & a competing & rising Power rival? China builds things, America bombs & destroys things! That’s the stark contrast between the two Powers? China plays a non zero sum game towards its Trading partners in which both sides wins & both get something from the Trade whereas America plays a zero sum game of Imperial theft & pillage of other Countries resources which benefit only them & their Corporate cronies? Is there little wonder why everyone is abandoning the American disaster Capitalism model of the US in favour of China & it’s win, win policies! Trump’s ridiculous MAGA strategy is blowing up, in his & America’s face & causing its own isolation & downfall in a World that’s increasingly becoming multipolar? America can jump on the peace train & join the Silk road to prosperity & Trade or continue on its deathcult mission of endless Wars & chaos, accelerating its decline & irrelevance on the World stage!

    • Mike Sokolowski
      April 2, 2019 at 12:17

      KiwiAntz; Excellent synopsis, thank you.

    • April 2, 2019 at 12:32

      Please be mindful of the Tibetans and Uighers.

  18. Eric32
    April 1, 2019 at 19:01

    The Chinese intent is to capture resources to produce from, and markets to sell into, for their own country’s welfare. That doesn’t fit with curing the employment and earnings problems of common people in already developed nations. The upper 10 pct of Italy and other developed nations will probably find a way to make money from this, at least for a while, but I think the main model for this is what the US has experienced in de-industrialization.

    And, of course, de-industrialized nations get weaker and weaker over time, economically and militarily.

  19. SocraticGadfly
    April 1, 2019 at 18:59

    Kowtowing, is what this is.

    OTOH, Lawrence’s last graf is pretty weak.

    It almost invites a reading between the lines that there’s no third option for democratic countries dealing with China other than neoliberal “engagement” and the self-delusion that will change China and neoliberal passive “acceptance” of dealing with China economically and folding on political philosophy when deemed economically necessary.

    Related? The West has never insisted that other nations conform to its political standards in exchange for economic advantage. We continue to buy Saudi oil and let it do whatever it wants, as an obvious counterexample. We do at times claim to want the outward trappings of democracy (post-1989 Russia) but not always even then.

    So, kind of a meh piece overall.

    Maybe Lawrence can give us a Forensicator fluffing update next.

    https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2018/08/shirtlost-dumbshit-zach-haller-actual.html

    • Tom Kath
      April 1, 2019 at 21:03

      Your tolerant benevolence towards Saudi Arabia is scarcely borne out in Venezuela, Libya, Iraq………..

    • KiwiAntz
      April 1, 2019 at 22:40

      SocraticGadfly are you for real? “The West has never insisted that other Nations conform to its Political standards in exchange for economic advantage”? Thats what you said & its a complete joke? If, what you state has a modicum of truth to it, then why is the American Empire so hellbent in Regime changing & overthrowing other Countries Govts in conflict with their western values? What do you call America’s Criminal use of economic sanctions & meddling to overthrow a democratically elected Leader & Nation, like in Venezuela? Or the other lawless Military adventures by the US to illegally invade & destroy Nations like Iraq, Libya & Syria in order to steal those Countries resources & to sanction others like Russia, Iran via the weaponisation of the US dollar Banking System of SWIFT to bend others to their corrupt will!! Give me a break & I’d take China’s soft power approach any day over your flawed Western interference model!

    • Mike Sokolowski
      April 2, 2019 at 12:10

      ‘The West has never insisted that other nations conform to its political standards in exchange for economic advantage’. So you are saying that when Washington claims they are placing sanctions on, invading covertly or overtly, manufacturing regime changes/coups or simply bombing sovereign countries back to the stone age it’s all in the name of bringing them “Freedom and Democracy” and nothing else?

    • AnneR
      April 2, 2019 at 12:57

      Iran – both 1953 and now? Iraq? Guatemala? Libya? Syria? Afghanistan (rare metals very likely why we won’t leave any time soon)? Venezuela? And those are only the places we changed (or tried to) the governments by force and violence, fomented coups with the intent of controlling the natural resources. There are plenty of other examples – like Vietnam, Korea, Chile for example – where there was no direct economic plunder in view – where we have decided that the governments had to go because *we* didn’t like them. And we don’t give an eff what chaos, destruction we (or our proxies) cause in the process of getting what we want: the more the merrier, ‘cos its over there, not here.

Comments are closed.