Wednesday, October 27

China’s new imperial route

The bipolar structure and balance of power that existed during the 20th century disappeared after the fall of the USSR and gave way to unipolar American dominance. Situation that did not exist since the Roman Empire. This situation is the one that poses the greatest risk to peace, and both the Bush and Trump administrations ignored the provisional and unstable character of unipolar domination. The military dominance led to a radicalization of the imperial project with the erroneous analysis of global threats in terms of international terrorism and the “axis of evil”. The capricious and arbitrary policies of the United States past and present have increased mistrust and have helped to advance the multipolar system in a reasonably short period of time. The candidates to restore that balance vary: from the European Union -Germany-, Russia that seeks to reestablish its influence over the former Soviet space, or other Eurasian empires such as Iran, Turkey, or India, and without a doubt, all analysts agree that China will likely be the new great power throughout the 21st century.

With its national security strategy of consolidating internal control – Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs – China, as it had never been able to do before, allows it to strengthen its fleet and its bases in the East and South China Seas, in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Sea. Strong investments in ports (Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Djibouti and Tanzania), also in the Mediterranean, including building artificial islands, in front of Taiwan. This security strategy joins a commercial strategy that takes up the world of Marco Polo: on the one hand, protecting the maritime routes through the aforementioned oceans and seas – Marco Polo’s return route-, and on the other, weaving a network to link it to its Trans-Eurasian Silk Road. From central China to Iran through the great Central Asia. China does not try to influence the mode of government of other countries, China takes its superiority for granted. (This is something in which it diverges from the democratic universalism of the United States or Europe.) (The return of the world of Marco Polo. War, strategy and American interests in the XXI century. Robert D. Kaplan. RVA Editores. 2019. Collect a study written for the Pentagon in 2016). The challenge that such a Eurasian trading network poses for the United States is obvious. Although Biden expressed his support for “freedom of navigation” at the UN, China increasingly extends its claims to control vast stretches of the Pacific. In the likely event that the US intends to counter China in Asia, the first thing it should do is revert to the pan-Asian trade deal that Trump abandoned in 2016, and that China signed immediately before Biden’s arrival. The European Union also signed an important agreement of great interest for trade and investment in China, immediately before the departure of Donald Trump. Not surprisingly, Biden has not consulted on the issue of the sale of atomic submarines to Australia.

“Free trade works well in a context of liberal democracies but it does not necessarily need them to exist”, “enlightened dictatorships” are also worth it, as Kaplan says in his US strategy proposal. Air and naval power is the most appropriate for US interests, “since it allows projecting power over vast expanses of the planet and without getting bogged down anywhere with interventions by ground forces.” “We have no territorial ambitions in Eurasia.” The land strategy should be secondary and should be subordinated to our air and naval strategy, and not the other way around. “The ground forces are synonymous with occupation; invading implies ruling.” “We must always occupy the intermediate space between neo-isolationism and imperial-type interventionism. ”This is how the exit from Afghanistan is understood.

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