Americans need to stop equivocating and admit that China is in a payback situation vis a vis the Western world that abused it for centuries. As a geographic point of comparison, after bringing war to both Asia and the United States, the other major Pacific power, Japan benefitted from America’s determination to spread neo-liberal ‘democracy’, while China defeated Washington’s efforts to prevent it from adopting Communism. Seventy-some years later, the economy inspired by Socialism with Chinese characteristics is poised to replace America’s undisputed but tragic rule.
China’s success isn’t limited to its ability to produce and ship tens of thousands of masks and other indispensable medical supplies to the four corners of the world: its rise challenges the entire economic structure that supports neo-liberal power. As the battle over the latest IT technology, known as Five G, heats up, its largest purveyor, Huawei, is banned from the US to avoid competition. Amidst the technical and political discussions around the ban, The Atlantic magazine showcased Huawei’s unique ‘campus’ (Silicon Valley’s new word for ‘headquarters’), located near Shenzhen, in southern China.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei was not only inspired by American business models, he decided that the buildings of his live-in headquarters would replicate European landmarks such as the city of Heidelberg or Oxford University. For those who fail to get the message, three black swans cruise the gardens’ lush waterways: A ‘Black Swan’ is a significant economic event that no one foresaw.
Huawei’s Ox Horn Research and Development Campus illustrates China’s innovative way of competing with the biggest empire the world has ever known, but it also draws attention to the historical difference between China’s path to modernity and that of Europe. Although both came out of World War II severely damaged, Europe was already a ‘modern’ society, ready to go all—out via the free enterprise system that rescued it from fascism, while largely peasant China had to fight the pro-American Kuomintang for control of the most populous country in the world. (The party of Chang Kai Chek still rules Taiwan.) Starting in 1949, under Mao Tse Tung’s Communist government, much of China’s modernization took place in the countryside, along with education, party control and health care. France, on the other hand, having separated church and state in 1905, reaped the full benefit of the now secular universal public education mandated in 1881. (Similarly, the legal code introduced by Napoleon remains at the heart of France’s legal system.)
At the end of World War II, Europe became a ward of the United States, through a Marshall Plan designed to benefit American industry converting from military to civilian production, while China, in its quest for modernization, turned to the Soviet Union.
In the mid-fifties, Mao rejected Khruschev’s condemnation of Stalinism creating a home-grown brand of Communism backed by Confucius, Buddhism and Taoism, while Europe, obeying Washington’s economic diktats, rejected Moscow’s pleas for peaceful coexistence, setting itself up as the kinetic battlefield between the two systems.
The economic crisis of 2008 was papered over by European leaders still in thrall to the ‘Atlantic’ Alliance — note the non-specific designation — however, it did foreshadow the old world’s emancipation. When the Corona Virus struck, Europe obediently criticized China for its initial handling of the pandemic, however it was soon forced to acknowledge Beijing’s timely shipments of urgent medical supplies. President Trump claimed that the US was producing ventilators for its allies, who didn’t know how to build them, just as today he claimed that the US was second behind Germany in limiting the number of fatalities instead of first worldwide in number of deaths. Meanwhile, French healthcare workers demonstrated loudly for reforms, having finally realized the ravages caused by the neo-liberalism foisted upon them by Washington. One lowly health aide stated that: “For the last two decades, we’ve tried to transform hospitals into corporations. Hospitals have to make a profit, and the health system is continually targeted for savings. To think it used to be the envy of the world….”
Covid 19 came on the heels of China launching its Belt and Road Initiative that facilitates trade between Europe and the East by road, rail and sea. Italy was the first EU country to sign on, roundly criticized by its neighbors, who never imagined that China would come to its rescue when it needed health supplies, which it did, in the name of socialist solidarity, a concept almost forgotten in today’s Europe.
When Russian medical supplies arrived, in the same spirit, they were greeted with cries of ‘The Russians are Coming!’ (The Pentagon is successfully preparing the American public for nuclear war against both China and Russia, the first for ‘threatening our ships and bases in the western Pacific’, while Russia has moved an ‘unreasonable’ number of troops to its border with Europe — facing NATO tanks.)
But the most significant episode in the East-West drama did not involve the military. On the heels of the President Trump withdrawing American funding from the World Health Organization and snubbing its remote urgent meeting of heads of state, Chinese President Xi delivered a major address, raising his country’s funding commitment from twenty million to two billion dollars. Although the US media noted the facts without comment, the rest of the world will note that with an ancient civilization at its back, China is the Black Swan that is defeating the deadliest Empire the world has ever seen.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.