China and the US should not go to war

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The US has no Plan B, says Professor Radhika Desai, Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba, on the YouTube Thinkers Forum on 25 January 2024. She goes over paradigm shifts in 2023 on America’s hegemony, including Ukraine and Gaza; the long-term impact on US’s own economy; Russia’s resilience against US-led pushback; questionable durability of the “casino-like” open-market dollar-system; the future of US-China relations; China’s more restrained and globally-inclusive diplomatic stance; and the upcoming impactful elections in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

I should add that America’s so-called Plan A against China has only four blunt coercive tools: (a) US military dominance, (b) US technological lead, (c) the weaponized dollar, and (d) America’s so-called global alliance-network. These are proving less and less effective against China. 

As for (a), China has vastly expanded its military on all fronts. While unwilling and unable to match America’s global military presence and supremacy, Chins is well capable of defending its core interests. This includes a mobile, hypersonic, nuclear-capable Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) System with multiple, separately-navigable warheads, a blue-water navy with more warships than the United States, state-of-the-art fifth-generation fighter planes and bombers, not to mention cyberwarfare and AI expertise. 

As for (b), nano-semiconductor-chips excepted for the time being, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has found that China is leading in 37 out of 44 21st-century cutting-edge technologies. Albeit excluded from the US-led International Space Station project from the very start, which is near the end of its useful life, China has succeed in building and operating its own Tiangong Space Station from scratch. It is the only country able to send a successful robotic probe to the far side of the moon. Its lunar program is picking up speed, partnering with other nations including some advanced countries. 

As for (c), indiscriminate long-arm dollar sanctions have pushed countries in the Global South to bypass the risks of exposure to a weaponized dollar. Some are beginning to transact bilateral trade with China using other currencies including the Renminbi. China’s digital sovereign currency (e-CNY) is gaining traction internationally. After all, China is by far the world’s largest trader and manufacturer. It remains the larger trading partner for 128 countries compared with America’s 57. Seven of the world’s top 11 container ports are in China, including Hong Kong. Even not “Made in China”, China is embedded in myriad products across the globe, including materials. minerals, components and logistics, decoupling or de-risking regardless. 

As for (d), marginalized for decades under US hegemony, the Global South has become more able to defend their national sovereignty and strategic interests. Witness the massive Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) comprising ASEAN countries and their main trading partners. Absent the United States, this is the world’s largest free trade bloc representing a third of global GDP and a third of world population, where China remains a central trading hub.  

More developing countries have also chosen to join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Group as well as the Eurasian Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where China and Russia hold sway. Witness also the more independent tilt of the Middle East and even India. Fact is, most nations in the Global South don’t want to be forced to choose between America and China, which remains a key source for economic development, including trade and infrastructure.

The fixation on coercion to serve American interests often ignores stark realities, including Adam Smith’s ”comparative advantage”. China has been buying a lot of international passenger jets from Boeing and Airbus, as it has yet no comparable alternatives. However, as China is the world’s largest manufacturer, the reverse is true for most of China’s manufacturing output, including its fully-integrated shipbuilding production chains.

According to a report of 19 April in Foreign Policy, Chinese businesses manufacture 96 percent of the world’s dry cargo shipping containers. A single Chinese firm, ZPMC, claims that it supplies 70 percent of the world’s cargo cranes. This compares to U.S.shipyards manufacturing fewer than 1 percent of the cargo vessels that ply the global seas. Using coercive sanctions to turn the table is fanciful. 

All in all, as pointed out by Professor Desai, the days of American hegemony are numbered. The sooner America’s elites wake up from their pipe-dream of perpetuating American hegemony through brute coercion, the better would be the prospects for a more inclusive and peaceful world, where the United States can still play a crucial role.   



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