26.01.2016 Author: Vladimir Terehov

Processes in the “USA-China-Europe” triangle

4534334543In an analysis of the new global game, emerging in the post-Cold War period, it is of utmost importance to identify its main players, their purposes (which can generally vary in time) and strategies to achieve them, which are also subject to changes. This is particularly important in the face of emerging obvious signs of the complication and deepening of the game in several regions of the world.

The leading players should include the USA, China, Japan, India, Russia, Europe, who, entering into different forms of cooperation with each other, create various geo-political configurations. A dynamic system of relations in each of them can be regarded as a separate fragment of the emerging global game. As the centre of gravity of the world events sets off to the Asia-Pacific region, special interest is drawn to processes in the “USA-China-Japan-India” configuration.

Recently, however, it became apparent that Europe considered itself as one of the “corners” of the extremely important triangle, two other “corners” being the USA and China. This implies that, despite the certain conditionality in generalisation of the leading European powers (Germany, France, Great Britain) under the category of “Europe,” its use still seems justified.

As NEO noted earlier, Europe is very often regarded in Russia as an absolute satellite of the United States, which is hardly true. These evaluations are based mainly on the behaviour of the European countries in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as a few words usually spoken in an unofficial environment and addressed to Russian officials of different levels.

But the fact that the strategy of the USA and Europe on Ukraine and Syria partly coincide (two “black holes” of today’s global political space) does not mean that Europe acts exclusively “under American pressure.” It is quite probable that the current position of Europe in the Ukrainian and Syrian crisis represents the interests of at least a part of the European establishment. Similarly, the outbreak of the Libyan conflict is rather in the interest of some European players.

As for the wording, why not give the audience what they want to hear and explain own unpleasant actions as the business of the bad overseas “Master.” Especially given that the spectators appear to be still stuck to the (originally delusional) idea of “European integration.”

The fact that the leading European players joined the Beijing-patronized Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), along with the intensive development of economic cooperation with China indicate that the fragment of the global game unfolding in the “USA-China-Europe” triangle (with all the greater involvement of Japan and India) becomes complex and large-scale.

The seriousness of the situation in this triangle can be assumed by recent collisions in its American-European corner, provoked by Washington’s sharp reaction to progress in the long negotiation process between China and the EU on the “market” status of the Chinese economy (Market Economy Status, MES).

In particular, Europe’s readiness to grant MES to China was implied by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne during his visit to China in September 2015. A month later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed a similar intention.

Both statements are remarkable, as they were made immediately after an authoritative expert study by European industry members had been published on possible EU implications of granting MES to China. The main conclusion of the study is that the possible lifting of anti-dumping barriers against China (according to WTO rules, countries with a “market” economy have the right to put the barriers for the goods from “non-market” economies) can result in the loss of up to 3.5 million jobs in Europe.

For this reason, it can be assumed that there is a political motive in the awaited decision by the EU to support China’s desire to obtain MES. Along with the intention to enforce (as a retaliatory measure) the influx of Chinese investments in the European economy, which is in a difficult situation.

It is worth mentioning that in 2001, the WTO gave China 15 years to rebuild its economy according to the requirements that correspond to certain “market” patterns. The transitional period expires at the end of 2016, and it is of utmost importance for China to break through the “All-European” front (which is, in fact, almost broken) and obtain MES.

Reasonably enough, today’s arguments on the “market economy” (as well as “democracy,” “totalitarianism,” “human rights” and other simulacra) increasingly resemble shamanistic conjuring. The level of minimum participation of the state in the national economy, so that it can be named the “market” one, is defined by those who give names.

In this case, Washington is attempting to assume the burden, which, however, has rather political, and not abstract economic (quasi-)scientific considerations. Because the development of the Sino-European economic cooperation means the creation of a solid base for all the other areas of bilateral relations.

But what about the “Western solidarity in the face of common threats?” Or, are these threats becoming all the more varied? – For the USA, China is obviously its main source of threats. And for Washington’s European allies? – Definitely not. Every time Angela Merkel visits Beijing, she is virtually carried in a palanquin (and on the shoulders of the CPC party members, too). Xi Jinping receives equal part of devotion during his visits to Berlin (London, and Paris).

On December 28, 2015 the Financial Times published an article entitled “US warns Europe over granting market economy status to China”. It said that Washington points out the dangerous consequences of a possible “unilateral disarmament of the European trade defence” from duty-free influx of Chinese goods with low dumping cost to the European markets. According to Washington, Europeans will have to pay too high a price for the (speculated) increase of Chinese investments in EU economies.

China did not take long to react. The Global Times publication on this topic says that over 90 countries, including Australia and South Korea (i.e. the unquestioned “market” economies), have granted MES to China. The article by the semi-official China media states with satisfaction the apparent divergence of the USA and the EU positions on this crucial issue (we would also add: “from the standpoint of the new global game”). It is also noted that “European countries led by Great Britain, France and Germany have been actively developing relations with China during the last years, believing that there is a specifically beneficial environment for that.”

In 2016, the aforementioned Global Times (with the same satisfaction) found it necessary to once again state the “doomed failure” of the US attempts to prevent EU from granting MES to China.

Finally, it is important to note that the naming of the main players, such as “Americans,” “Chinese,” “Europeans” is quite generalized. Not only because some of the real players tend not to be in the focus of public attention, but also because of the widely reported split between the elites. Including those at the head of the USA, China, and Great Britain.

For example, in late November 2015, during the discussions of the annual report of the Ministry of Finance in the Parliament of Great Britain, there were allegations expressed against George Osborne for the “sale of British assets” to foreign owners, which implies first and foremost China.

Earlier, there were certain hints in the media that this British politician had connections with the Rothschild family, whose headquarters allegedly moved recently to the “Special Administrative Region” in Hong Kong, a part of the PRC under special conditions. It is hardly a coincidence that the issue of “selling British assets” was raised a month after the triumphant visit of President Xi Jinping to the United Kingdom, previously discussed in the NEO.

And still, despite the varied (and very often random) factors in the analysis of the situation in the critical “USA-China-Europe” triangle, the trend towards strengthening of its Sino-European “corner” seems obvious and irreversible.

Which, of course, does not negate the importance of assessments from the other corners of this triangle, as well as in the geopolitical polygon as a whole. And the geopolitical format involves the world’s leading players in some sort of the new global game.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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