China Emerges to Fill a Vacuum Left by the West
The American century is over, and the Chinese century has begun.
As the United States rapidly withdraws from its past role as a global policy leader in culture, diplomacy, foreign aid, manufacturing technology, international banking and even climate change, China has emerged to take over the leadership in many of those areas, and this will have a significant impact on the world.
The more we know and understand about China, its culture and its intentions, the better prepared we can be for the rapid and dramatic shifts that are starting to occur and that will accelerate in the near future.
The Opening the United States Is Creating
Across an enormous physical and geopolitical ocean from China, the ascendancy of President Trump and his “America First” directives have brought with them some of the most headscratching, whiplash-inducing changes in global policy in a long time. Consider just these few examples as a starting point:
On NATO: Until just last month (April), Trump had declared NATO was obsolete and of little value. While he has now offered some praise for NATO’S past accomplishments, he is still saying the other member countries are not contributing their fair share of defense budgeting. He has also not involved them in any of his recent military moves in the region, creating even more instability.
On climate change: In a 2012 message on Twitter, Trump notoriously stated that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Since taking office, Trump has moved to roll back many previously tough emissions-control regulations in the United
States, using Executive Orders as the means for doing so. His partner in crime running the Environmental Protection Agency, the corruptand-getting-more-corrupt-by-the-minute agency responsible for managing national greenhouse gas emissions policy, has rapidly begun rolling back EPA requirements for factory emissions, automobile exhaust controls and everything possible associated with fossil-fuel prospecting. The words “climate change” are also now in the process of being banned from any discussion on the topic, as is all climate change research previously conducted within the EPA. Trump is also directing massive cutbacks in the monitoring of critical emissions information via NASA and national climate research within the EPA and the National Oceanographic and Aerospace Administration and is eliminating much of the background scientific analyses that go with it. It is also likely that Trump will turn his back on the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accord as well.
On international treaties: The Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement was certainly fatally flawed and deserved to be dropped by any U.S. president. But just dropping it and not coming up with a counter-policy has left a regional mess. Trump has also famously declared NAFTA to be a very bad deal for the United States and has declared his intention to overturn it. He has even vowed – in violation of many other treaty arrangements – to consider a tax on goods imported from countries he believes have benefited unfavorably. Trump has also come out strongly against the United Nations (UN) as a body that doesn’t ever get much accomplished and for which the United States is paying way too much to keep going.
On currency policy: Until about a week ago as of this writing, Trump had called China a currency manipulator that deserved some drastic sort of trade response. He has backed off on that – but only because many people around him apparently convinced him that while that may have been true once, it is no longer a dominant part of China’s policies and Wall Street and its international banks are guilty of currency manipulation.
On foreign policy: Trump’s foreign policy so far has consisted primarily of bashing specific countries, claiming that he as the master deal maker could redo treaties everywhere to vastly improve the U.S. position and cuddling up to the Russian Federation and Vladimir Putin. That last part is being rewritten these days as the United States continues its new military actions in the Middle East – but even then it appears to be more about raising Trump’s ratings than anything else. Trump and his team have also begun their own form of saber rattling when it comes to handling North Korea’s intercontinental missile and nuclear weapons tests by sending in a much bigger part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet than before. It is a show of force rather than a policy, though, with no clarity behind the moves.
On foreign aid: Although the detailed numbers are not public on the issue, the Trump-driven White House Budget submitted for consideration to the House of Representatives backs up Trump’s own past declarations that he thinks foreign aid is wasteful. The U.S. State Department itself is getting a budget cut of 32% from previous numbers. Much of that will come out of foreign aid of all kinds, money often given to help stabilize a region and help keep it close diplomatically. Insiders also say that the internal recommendations within the State Department could cut U.S. funding for the UN by as much as 50% from current levels. Considering that the United States currently supplies about 22% of the UN’S total budget and 28% of its peacekeeping budget, these cuts would create havoc for the UN if they are implemented as planned.
In Comes China
With a United States lacking in consistent, thoughtful and statesmanlike direction on all of these issues, it is no surprise that one or more countries have entered to take the lead on many issues.
Regarding the Middle East, Russian President Vladimir Putin has attempted to take the leadership role, in part fueled by his previous stronger support by Trump and by his country’s strong connections with Syria and Iran.
The far more powerful player in the game is China, however. Unlike Russia, it is far stronger economically and through its pure financial and trade clout can drive international diplomacy in the way few other countries can. In the past several
decades, it has also been slowly and carefully crafting its moves to become such a powerful economic force, through careful leadership from the top as it transitions from pure communism as its leadership approach to one with a strong entrepreneurial and almost capitalistic economy – in some respects.
As examples of how China has moved in to fill the gap of leadership, consider the following moves:
The Belt and Road Initiative: A Master Plan for World Trade with China
A major guiding vision for what China is doing is what is referred to as the “Belt and Road Initiative.” Taking its lead from the ancient concept of the Silk Road, which helped ancient China connect with the rest of the world to transform its onceisolated civilization, this one includes two separate connection routes to bring China closer to the rest of the world – and the rest of the world closer to China.
There is a land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt,” a set of China-backed infrastructure and trade agreements that connect China to Europe, Central and Western Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, primarily by land.
There is also what is referred to as “The Maritime Silk Road,” which connects China via the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. In this second route, keys to the process are a series of highly developed ultra-modern ports along China’s coastline plus strong alliances with many of the parties involved along the way.
As envisioned by the planners, these two “roads” cover 63% of the world’s population, 35% of the world’s merchandise trade and 30% of the world’s GDP. These trade routes are also designed so that China can connect with 48% of the population along its routes within a maximum of five hours.
China already dominates U.S. trade. This master “Belt and Road Initiative” will bring all of South and Southeast Asia in connection with China quickly and will soon link rapidly growing Africa, emerging markets in Central and Western Asia and the “old guard” of mainland Europe into its grasp quickly.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with headquarters in Beijing, is an international investment bank with objectives like those of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund but aimed very much at Asia as its investment target rather than the world in general. As it says in its own descriptive materials, “The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a new multilateral financial institution founded to bring countries together to address the daunting infrastructure needs across Asia. By furthering interconnectivity and economic development in the region through advancements in infrastructure and other productive sectors, we can help stimulate growth and improve access to basic services.”
The AIIB was founded in December 2015 and opened up for business in January 2016. In only a little over a year since that time, it has amassed total investment capital of $92 billion, contributed for the most part by contributions from member nations.
Within the Asian region, its members include Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Non-regional members include Austria, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Others such as Canada have been approved for membership but are pending entry until they have paid in their necessary capital contributions.
Notably missing from the group are the United States and Japan, both of whom have been invited but have declined to become part of it. The United States is out, regardless of what else it says publicly about the organization, primarily because it sees this China-dominated alternative as a threat to its own economic clout. Japan is out because the United States pushed it not to join, as it has done less successfully with a number of
other regional and non-regional members.
The investments already approved by the bank clearly indicate it is following through on its chartered intent. Examples include the following:
• Bangladesh: Natural Gas Infrastructure and Efficiency Improvement Project (approved March 22, 2017)
• Indonesia: Dam Operational Improvement and Safety Project (approved March 22, 2017)
• Azerbaijan: Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) to be co-financed with the World Bank (WB) (approved December 21, 2016)
• Oman: Railway System Preparation Project (approved December 8, 2016)
• Tajikistan: Dushanbe-uzbekistan Border Road Improvement Project (approved June 24, 2016)
China is very much driving the bank’s agenda and is getting much of the credit for the results it is already achieving.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
Even while the TPP agreement was – rightly, according to many – going down in flames as a possibility, a regional alternative trade pact based in Asia was already rising as an alternative.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement actually took form among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community member nations going back to an initial set of meetings in 2012. Driven very much by Chinese objectives, it now includes the following member states: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
Together its member states represent 30% of the global GDP and almost half of the world’s population. With this group having its own strongly concentrated trade association, as well as one strongly linked to the already-wellorganized ASEAN member group, the potential for strengthening trade among its members without much concern about the rest of the world is very strong.
This is not to say that this trade deal is necessarily a great one for its participants. But it’s the existence of the trade agreement and its leadership that is the most significant issue here.
China as a Global Manufacturing Hub
With a clear strategy to become one of the biggest (if not the most dominant) technology centers in the world, China has made its mark on modern industry in record time.
It has done so by providing internal subsidies, infrastructure support, employee training and whatever else it takes to become the resource of choice for a large percentage of the world’s electronic companies. Positioning itself that way, using its cheap labor as its leverage, has also enabled China to develop its own capabilities as one of the most skilled electronic chip, subassembly and complete product manufacturers in the world.
Take the move by Apple to manufacture its smartphone and ipad products in mainland China. What that has done for Apple is to make possible some of the highest-margin products in the world
while still controlling supply chains very tightly. What it has done for China is to learn how to make exactly those same types of products and all of their major sub-assemblies and with quality and performance characteristics that are recognized as best in class in many ways. It has also allowed China’s own smartphones to unseat Apple and global leader Samsung in many Chinese submarkets.
This is similar to the strategy used by Korea to become a global player in the automotive industry, something that started first with Japanese auto companies setting up shop in Korea for lower-cost sources of manufacturing for their own vehicles. From the technology transfer and employee training involved, Korea was able to develop its own strong automotive manufacturing capacities first, followed by the ability to develop its own new technologies and car designs.
For China, what this means is that it is becoming skilled in many of the advanced manufacturing technologies first (just like South Korea) and then building on that with its own tech and advanced design capabilities on top of it. It has been so successful in some industries – such as photovoltaic-cell production and solar-energy-plant development – that it now dominates the world in these critical new infrastructure technologies.
China also requires most companies doing business in China to have Chinese business partners rather than allowing their foreign direct investments (FDIS) to go into wholly-owned local subsidiaries of a company from outside China. This partnership means it is difficult for any foreign company to avoid the technology transfers involved.
All of the policy involved in this, like in all of the other areas described here, comes from the “top” of the leadership ranks in China and is part of the “master plans.”
China, the single largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, has created a pollution mess of a staggering magnitude.
This covers things from its intense, severe smog throughout the country to having such high levels of algae in the waterways that Olympic events once almost had to be canceled because of both issues.
And yet now, in the time of Trump, China has emerged as the perceived leader in realizing the importance of taking an active role in dealing with the results of its emissions. China’s government officials had said for many years that, as a developing country, it should not have to cut back on emissions while developed countries have been dumping high amounts of carbon dioxide pollution into the air for hundreds of years.
Today, however, in the face of such terrifying smog within its own borders, perhaps, as well as realizing that leveraging the need to do something about that could help position the country well from a global perspective, China has reversed those statements. It is not yet as well organized about what to do about climate change as other countries, but it is now taking many strong actions to deal with it all. And its leaders are at least not in denial about the reality of climate change and the human causes of most of it (unlike Trump and many in the U.S. Congress right now).
Like the United States has done for many decades, China is learning to use the magic of foreign aid and foreign investment to extend help while also locking in strategic international partnerships.
That can take many forms, but common threads to most of the funds given out in this area are related to infrastructure development, disaster aid and student scholarships of one form or another. The funds are administered by the Department of Foreign Aid within the country’s Ministry of Commerce, which gives one idea of how the country thinks of foreign aid: It assists with commerce. Depending on the item being funded, the monies provided can be in the form of outright grants, interest-free loans or concession loans.
That last category covers loans for which China receives some sort of concession from the country or organization receiving the loan. This can be in the form of guaranteed priority access to something connected with what is being
funded. In the case of funds to support mining or oil drilling, for example, it could guarantee China priority access to some of the rare materials being mined or drilled for, often at a lower-than-normal price. Other forms of concessions that are known to exist are conditions China may ask for to restrict access to whatever is being funded, based on who are China’s friends and who are not.
Up until the end of 2009, China had already provided funds for a total of 2,025 infrastructure projects. These included projects related to farming, water distribution, conference buildings, education facilities, power supply, transport and industrial facilities of many kinds. There are also secondary-source financing arrangements that China engages in, by sponsoring Chinese companies doing work in Africa to effectively “buy down” the price of potential contract bids within the countries where those companies are doing the work.
Just in the past year China used its foreign financial outreach to advance its interests through the following investments and foreign aid:
• Africa’s Integrated High-speed Railway Network: a major project to connect all of the continent’s capital and major cities by rail
• China’s Silkroad International Bank (SIB) opened its doors in Djibouti, located on the Horn of Africa, precisely along the Maritime Silk Road
• Beginning construction of the 90-acre China Naval Base in Djibouti, right next to those run by the United States and Saudi Arabia (Japan has also recently decided to expand its naval base in Djibouti as a counterbalance to the Chinese one.)
• Largest ever Ethiopian Paper and Pulp Mill, built by a Chinese engineering company with China’s backing
• The Africa Union Mission in Somalia: $1.2 million came from China
• Built multiple new islands in the South China Sea to establish its dominance over that important shipping, fishing and military region (China notably ignored the Hague Tribunal’s ruling last year that it had no right to build those islands or to seize ones already present there.)
• Committed to plans with Egypt for the development of seven ports along the Suez Canal and helping support Egypt in creating a major international logistics hub, all of which will support China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative
• China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign wealth fund, acquired 19% of Prima Coal, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s largest coal miner
• $1.6 billion in foreign direct investments in Indonesia
• $24 billion of new infrastructure investment commitments for the Philippines
In addition to the above, just in the past six months China has held notable high-level meetings in person in Africa with the Republic of Congo, Guinea, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. Asian meetings are too numerous to count but have expanded notably in the Philippines since President Duterte expressed interest in exploring alternatives to the United States as a principal ally.
As might be seen in what is listed above, the emerging nations of Africa are often some of the biggest beneficiaries of Chinese foreign investment. Although exact figures are still hard to come by, it is estimated that around 50% of Chinese foreign aid is being funneled to Africa even now. One major by-product of these investments and aid are concessions such as those discussed above, in the form of low prices and control of unique and precious natural resources available on the African continent. A second payoff is in Africa’s positive view of China as a benevolent partner who is perceived to be without any hidden agenda. That last part is far from the truth, however, but the partnerships are considered vitally important as African countries grow in economic and political importance globally.
China has also begun making waves recently by
making major policy statements about several international issues.
Support for an Independent Palestinian State
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a joint press conference with Palestine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-maliki on April 13 in Beijing. There, Wang demanded an end to Israel’s continuing illegal occupation of Palestine and said there must be an independent Palestinian state.
With what is becoming a defining characteristic of the current Chinese administration on major global policy matters, Wang went on to take even stronger diplomatic positions in this matter. He called for an immediate restart to Israeli-palestinian peace talks, which have ground to a complete halt as Israel has stepped up its continued construction of illegal settlements. He also strongly criticized the U.S. administration and Congress for continuing to support Israel’s apartheid-like policies.
He also pointed out that Palestinians are still being blocked from their independence despite the UN having passed Resolution 181, which called for the creation of that Palestinian state over 70 years ago.
China has recently stepped up its involvement in the Palestinian issue. Last year, as part of a major speech he gave at the Arab League, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country would be giving US$7.6 million in aid to Palestine.
In response, Palestine’s al-maliki expressed his appreciation for what China was already doing for his people and hoped it would take on an even bigger role for them in the future. “We do encourage China to do more of this kind of approach, to see peace ultimately achieved in our region,” he said.
Actions and Warnings Regarding Escalating Tensions with North Korea
Handling any kind of diplomatic situation involving North Korea would be tough for any country, but China has more than stepped up to the task.
With China being one of the few countries in the world that actively trades with North Korea (for coal), it has a unique opportunity for direct leverage. So, in February, when it was clear North Korea was going to continue escalating its missile launches and nuclear testing, China told North Korea it was immediately canceling all coal orders with North Korea. North Korea chose to ignore the decision and shipped coal anyway, only to have its barges laden with coal turned away by China in mid-april.
In the meantime, Trump, again lacking any strategy to go with his words, kept telling the world how big a problem North Korea was and that he would solve it. Rather than go after increased sanctions, as many others would have done, he supported a move from his military for a significant increase in U.S. naval warship presence along the coastal regions of South Korea.
With Trump being seen by many world leaders as highly reactive, concerns have already been expressed throughout the world that Trump might launch his own, possibly preemptive, missile strike against North Korea directly. Fortunately for the world – perhaps, anyway – China’s President Xi had just met with Trump while those tensions with North Korea were rising. And China took to the world stage afterwards to urge caution in the North Korean conflict and to encourage both sides to remain calm.
It is true that North Korea’s leadership is sufficiently unstable and unpredictable that even the best political minds in the world have not figured out a good way to deal with the country. China itself is having challenges knowing how to exert trade/ sanction pressures on North Korea while urging caution from South Korea, the United States and U.S. allies. It is also seen in the awkward position as not being able to afford a complete meltdown of North Korean leadership, even though Western countries may see that as a good goal. For China, if the government of North Korea were to fall for whatever reason, migrants from North Korea could flood into China’s adjacent territories, looking for food, housing and water. At best that would put a massive drain on China’s resources; at worst it would create major instability that could take a decade or more to resolve.
China has also upped its willingness to participate in multi-party discussions on the situation and is growing even more flexible as to the form of those discussions. As China’s Foreign Minister Wang
Yi said on April 14, “As long as it is talk, China is willing to support it: Either it is formal or informal, one-track or dual-track, bilateral, trilateral or quadrilateral.”
For the time being, China is taking the very public position of encouraging thoughtfulness and calm in a very delicate political situation and using tighter sanctions rather than the open threat of war to bring a halt to North Korea’s military moves. Whether that strategy will work or not is unclear, but it is clearly a strange world where China is perceived as having the voice of patience in these matters.
The Culture of Chinese Leadership – and Why It Works
Just as the United States was founded with one set of guiding principles, which have influenced all generations since, so too is the situation with China.
For the United States, the country’s founders came to the North American shores determined to fight for things like religious freedom and standing up for the rights of individuals. Government was a means to an end rather than a guiding central force to control everything. That may seem hard to imagine in modern times, considering all the ways in which the federal government manipulates modern life. But the culture of the founders has continued as a pervasive part of the way citizens are brought up, with support for independence, the Constitutionally protected concept of free press, the Constitutionally designated concept of a government that is highly decentralized through the states and the ability to fight for what one believes that is built into everything that happens in the United States. Whether it works in practice is less the issue; it is the collective culture that matters. It is also why many believe that, no matter how much the leadership in America may choose to overreach its Constitutionally allowed boundaries, there is a point at which the American citizenry will push back and revolt.
In China, the culture was also set long ago and is equally embedded in its psyche. For millennia, within the government in China, even when the country was broken into smaller states in ancient times, the idea of an almost godlike central leadership was part of what everyone understood and accepted. Part of the reason for this was a belief that those at the top had access to unique knowledge and skills that others did not.
To this day, the Chinese still believe that, and their state structures support it. It is part of why most decisions are made “at the top” on almost everything, both in government as well as companies. China’s court institutions, something those in the Western countries see as the means by which government wrongs can be righted, also report to the same top of government channels, with the effect that no matter what is decided, it cannot happen without the direct involvement of and buy-in with government leadership.
Another factor working to support this culture is the virtual blockage of alternative opinions and even facts from entering the country’s media conversations, in the press, via television and radio and even in social media. Internal social media accounts in the country must be formally registered, with contact information, passport data and more, to quickly identify the source of any communication that may be let out in the country through any means. That also extends to access to outside news sources and search engines, which block the distribution of any contrary opinions throughout the country.
The effect of the above for all is to continue to reinforce the message that senior Chinese leadership is always “doing the right thing” and is doing so “with the best information” for the greatest common good. There may be occasional protests and crackdowns on them, but those are rare, and information about what really happened in each case is quickly silenced. Add this to the thousands of years of history of a people always looking up to its government leaders at the top to make those decisions and you have a country very much ready to support and follow the leadership in charge.
The Subtle Roles of Tai Chi and Qigong
One of China’s sources of power is its very ancient culture and its belief in and utilization of chi, or the life force. The most visible aspect of this part of Chinese culture is tai chi, a meditative exercise that consists of specific fluid movements and
coordinated breathing. Less known and more powerful is qigong.
Qigong has long been part of Chinese culture. A Neolithic vessel estimated to be nearly 7,000 years old depicts a priest-shaman (wu xi 巫覡) in the essential posture of meditative practice and gymnastic exercise of early qigong.
Qigong takes the concepts in tai chi to an even higher level. It is a holistic approach to bringing body posture, movement, breathing and meditation together. It has the end goal of not just harnessing qi (chi) but also helping its practitioners cultivate and balance that life energy. With guiding roots for the practice going back to ancient days before original Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian philosophies, qigong offers those who study and practice it rigorously over an extended period the means to become superhuman.
Qigong masters can store chi to use for immense strength, the ability to withstand extreme temperatures and miraculous hands-on and remote healing. In a very advanced state of qigong called bigu, a person can go months or even years without eating.
Chinese soldiers practice qigong to make themselves more effective.
Although a full exploration of these two practices and related ones is a much bigger subject than can be covered here, at a minimum the very presence of these practices points to a strong embedded cultural belief in the Chinese people’s ability to bring to power energies beyond what most of us could possibly imagine. Being able to actually produce the results promised by these practices takes that a major step further, in ways Westerners and those unfamiliar with them can only imagine.
Together with the strong embedded cultures described earlier, the practices of tai chi and qigong give the collective force of the Chinese people a power that is far stronger and more united than perhaps many realize.
What Is Next for China and the Rest of the World
With the master plan of the “Belt and Road Initiative” in place, China’s strong economic power (which it itself drew on by actively pulling in American contracts for everything from clothing to technology and then reverse-engineering those disciplines for its own use); China’s leadership on trade, investment infrastructure and foreign aid; and China’s rapid expansions in almost every line of business in the world, China is in the strongest position of perhaps any country to deal with many issues. So whether it is a geopolitical, environmental, financial and/or trade crisis that has become the crisis of the moment, one can be sure that China’s presence, preferences and influence will soon be felt greatly on these matters more than most Western countries.
For the rest of the world, what is perhaps most important to realize is that China’s global plans to dominate world affairs, the economy and even the control of most of its critical resources are already well-seeded.
In Asia, China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” drives much of how it is bringing North Africa, Europe, Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia together. The AIIB, while featuring major investor countries from throughout the region and now growing worldwide, constitutes yet another way in which the country is seizing the initiative to act as the local “godfather” guiding how these massive concentrations of wealth and the world populations will evolve. The RCEP trade agreement builds on that with other benefits and controls, creating yet another topdown-driven leadership opportunity for China, with built-in walls to keep the West away.
China is also very consciously targeting the continent of Africa as a source of strong future allies. This is still very much in the incubation stage, but as the next years play out, those infrastructure investments, gifts of friendship and
concessions given in the form of the control of important natural resources may turn out to be far more valuable than almost any other form of transactional gains in the world.
It is important to also note that China had the wisdom to not only build a naval base on that continent (in Djibouti, on the strategic Horn of Africa) but also to establish one of its Silk Road banks in Djibouti.
It is even possible, probably later rather than sooner, that China’s currency may soon begin to take over as the baseline currency for many international transactions. When that begins to happen, the Western dominance in financial affairs will be very much in trouble.
In parallel, the Western countries’ economies continue to weaken, as do alliances such as the European Union (EU), the UN and even the military defense alliance NATO. With leadership in Western countries being ceded to inept and corrupt amateurs such as Trump, power-hungry heads such as the newly empowered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, leaders such as Russia’s Putin (with their unique skills of leveraging the power of chaos) and the new elected officials emerging in Europe who may be even more ready than the United Kingdom to dissolve the EU, there is more room than ever for what appears to be a stable and well-thought-through sort of leadership such as what China currently offers the world.
More than ever, it appears this is becoming not just “Asia’s time,” as a famous regional banking ad once described things a few years ago. It is now “China’s time.”
Map of China’s Master Plan for the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to drive trade between China, Asia, South Asia, Europe, and Africa.