By step­ping up its hubris, is Wash­ing­ton driv­ing to­ward a dead end?

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM - By Fabio Mas­simo Par­enti Page Ed­i­tor: yu­jin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

The strong­est states, ac­cord­ing to the neo-mer­can­tilists, give life to in­ter­na­tional regimes (mone­tary, com­mer­cial, pro­duc­tive, etc.) to ad­vance na­tional in­ter­ests, then refuse to ad­here to the prin­ci­ples and rules when they en­ter into con­flicts with their own in­ter­ests. In this way it is pos­si­ble to ex­plain the with­drawal of the US from in­ter­na­tional agree­ments such as the Paris Agree­ment, crit­i­cisms of the safe­guard clauses en­vis­aged within the WTO, the threat to exit from this or­ga­ni­za­tion, and so on.

For this rea­son, many ob­servers talk about the end of the lib­eral or­der be­cause the de­fec­tion of the leader is be­com­ing a con­stant.

How­ever, the world is no longer unipo­lar and there is less room to do what one wants, as seen in the tug of trade war with China.

The au­thor­i­ties in Bei­jing have re­it­er­ated that they would come up with coun­ter­mea­sures against the new round of tar­iff in­creases. No­body emerges a win­ner from the trade war. This has al­ways been Bei­jing’s po­si­tion in fa­vor of fair trade with the US. Ini­tially, a year and a half ago, the launch of the new im­port tariffs wanted by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was of­ten weighed up. Ob­servers avoided us­ing the word “war” and the Chi­nese in par­tic­u­lar were cau­tious. To­day the au­thor­i­ties in Bei­jing are de­nounc­ing the un­re­li­a­bil­ity of the US more strongly.

Al­most 17 months af­ter the trade war be­tween the two na­tional pil­lars of the world econ­omy be­gan, it is in­creas­ingly ev­i­dent that we are in the midst of a strate­gic con­flict pro­voked by the US, which is fight­ing it with all its means.

Sanc­tions on lead­ing Chi­nese high­tech com­pa­nies, with var­i­ous bans on the sale of Amer­i­can com­po­nents; all kinds of pres­sures against the Chi­nese 5G and re­lated bi­lat­eral agree­ments around the world; sup­port and provo­ca­tions on Taiwan and Hong Kong af­fairs, which are China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs, where doc­u­mented US in­ter­fer­ence (not to­day) is in­tol­er­a­ble for China. Go­ing for­ward: crit­i­cism on China’s Xin­jiang’s anti-ter­ror­ism and anti-ex­trem­ism mea­sures is build up on in­for­ma­tion ma­nip­u­la­tion; at­tempts to widen the field to cur­rency com­pe­ti­tion, the re-emerg­ing ones’ ac­cu­sa­tions of cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion were not valid years ago, and they are not to­day, with an in­creas­ingly in­te­grated and open China. Not to men­tion the afore­men­tioned dec­la­ra­tion on the re­form of the WTO. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to move from an ex­treme po­si­tion to its ex­act op­po­site, even within a few days.

China, for its part, con­tin­ues to an­tic­i­pate the ob­jec­tives of its eco­nomic pol­icy plans and to ac­cel­er­ate in­no­va­tion, re­search and the de­vel­op­ment of its in­ter­nal mar­kets.

High sav­ings, wage growth, sup­port for do­mes­tic de­mand and re­struc­tur­ing of sup­ply side are the cor­ner­stones of the Chi­nese “new nor­mal” to sta­bi­lize the eco­nomic growth, at least since 2008. The West, on the con­trary, loses bits and pieces, by fore­shad­ow­ing the ad­vance of a new great cri­sis.

Once again, it is ne­olib­er­al­ism, with var­i­ous neo-mer­can­tilist nu­ances, that is in the dock, while China con­tin­ues to ex­per­i­ment a sui generis model.

When a lib­eral and neo-mer­can­tilist coun­try, in al­ter­nate phases, fears its own al­leged hege­mony, it risks mak­ing more and more dan­ger­ous ma­neu­vers. With China and Rus­sia be­ing closer than in the past, how­ever, there is no room for mil­i­tary so­lu­tions. There­fore, the US re­lies on all the other levers, but cur­rently with lit­tle suc­cess. The au­thor is as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of Ge­og­ra­phy/in­ter­na­tional Studies (ASN), teach­ing at the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute Lorenzo de’ Medici, Florence. He is also mem­ber of CCERRI think tank, Zhengzhou, and EURISPES, Lab­o­ra­to­rio BRICS, Rome. His lat­est book is

Fol­low him on twit­ter @ fabiomas­si­mos

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