The story of the Chinese economy is truly miraculous – how this nation of over 1 billion people transformed itself into the mega-global powerhouse Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road development strategy, proposed by China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”), the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (“SREB”), and the oceanic Maritime Silk Road (“MSR”).
The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network.
In the past few years, the focuses were mainly on infrastructure investment, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, and iron and steel.
However, while China spent the better part of the past 50 years as a relatively closed society, it has now recently flowered to bloom and is now actively engaging with the West as well as with Africa and South America to expand its influence and engage in project finance and loans, flush with billions in cash, ready to take on the world.
Ironically, the United States is going in the opposite trajectory, adopting a more protectionist and closed-off society, like Britain’s Brexit phenomenon, after having spent the past 50 years openly engaging with the world, but now retreating into the shadows of “America-First” philosophy, focusing on taking control of its own economy and people.
This of course is paving the way for a Chinese-dominated global society, which can be both good and bad for global society.
Even though the Chinese are poised to take on the world as its economic global leader, there are still many things that they can learn from the United States:
(1) The rule of law;
(2) checks and balances within government;
(3) an end to dynastic wealth transfer and uber-oligarchy society;
(4) tolerance of different races, religions, viewpoints, and creeds;
(5) independence in starting and building business;
(6) healthy skepticism of government; and
(7) the spirit of ingenuity and invention.
China can also learn a great deal from America when it comes to placing human rights and civil liberties at the forefront of their culture, but this can also prove to be disastrous as Americans are currently experiencing a distinct balkanization of its people hitherto never seen before, with different factions of society at each other’s throats on a seemingly endless and daily basis – blacks versus whites, women versus men, gays versus straight, muslims versus jews versus christians, and other myriad social problems such as epidemic opioid addiction, breakdown of the nuclear family, sexually transmitted disease, and wide scale poverty.
Things aren’t helped when it seems that the rich newly emerging oligarchs in America seem to be actively fomenting and funding America’s recently visible deep fractures in society on behalf of their foreign brethren in international high-level business and banking.
This was the major reason China closed itself off in the first place, healing itself and licking its chops after the colonial plundering of its wealth and society by the Europeans, British, Japanese, Germans, Russians, French, and Portuguese.
China continued to be divided up into these spheres until the United States, which had no sphere of influence, grew alarmed at the possibility of its businessmen being excluded from Chinese markets.
In 1899, Secretary of State John Hay asked the major powers to agree to a policy of equal trading privileges. In 1900, several powers agreed to the U.S.-backed scheme, giving rise to the “Open Door” policy, denoting freedom of commercial access and non-annexation of Chinese territory. In any event, it was in the European powers’ interest to have a weak but independent Chinese government. The privileges of the Europeans in China were guaranteed in the form of treaties with the Qing government. In the event that the Qing government totally collapsed, each power risked losing the privileges that it already had negotiated.
The erosion of Chinese sovereignty and seizures of land from Chinese by foreigners contributed to a spectacular anti-foreign outbreak rebellion in June 1900, when the “Boxers” (“the society of righteous and harmonious fists”) attacked foreigners around Beijing. The Imperial Court was divided into anti-foreign and pro-foreign factions.
Extraterritorial jurisdiction was abandoned by the United Kingdom and the United States in 1943. Chiang Kai-shek forced the French to hand over all their concessions back to China control after World War II. Foreign political control over leased parts of China ended with the incorporation of Hong Kong and the small Portuguese territory of Macau into the People’s Republic of China in 1997 and 1999 respectively.
China then closed off behind its Communist Iron Curtain, and the rest is history.
America’s pre-occupation and entanglement in foreign wars and the idiotic self-defeating “war on terrorism” after September 11, 2001 exhausted both its economy and its people, until the clamor grew so loud that the people began to rebel and demanded that its doors be closed to immigration and foreign entanglements.
Enter President Donald Trump who rose to power based on these American sentiments demanding that the doors be closed and that focus be paid to its own people and societal problems.
Now with the recent meeting by and between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in November 2017, no starker contrast could be shown – and the roles of both super global powers have been dramatically reversed – one side protectionist and cautious (United States) and the other engaged and poised to take on the world (China).
However, just like China can learn from the United States, the exact opposite is also true. America can also greatly learn from China in:
(1) focusing on educating its people and encouraging study, rather than just having fun drinking, doing drugs, and having promiscuous sex without respite;
(2) encouraging strong family values and the nuclear family unit, as this fosters stronger, more balanced children and citizens, while warding away dependency on the state;
(3) curtailing organized and systemic corruption by jailing and punishing those business and government leaders who enrich themselves and their coffers at the expense of the populace;
(4) limiting addictions to social media, mindless video games, and brain rotting entertainment fanfare;
(5) zero tolerance policy for addictions of any kind;
(6) encouraging hard industrious work and focus on the self and family;
(7) avoiding stupid foreign wars, colonial behavior, and entanglements with other nations’ internecine conflicts and policies, and focusing on building and strengthening the nation itself;
(8) encouraging and fostering responsible mature behavior, rather than abject and self-destructive social stupidity;
(9) patriotism and love of country above all else.
It is important that China and the USA meet somewhere in the middle, and learn to cross-pollinate to cooperate with one another, and lead the inevitable global community into the future, supporting and encouraging each other as they go, without encroaching on or offending one another as time passes down through the centuries.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.