For all those who either see China as the Yellow Peril or the 21st Century Economic Wiz a dose of sobriety should be applied. As the situation stands the world economy simply cannot work as effectively and efficiently without China’s participation. However it is also truth that China is taking abusive advantage from a worldwide institutional framework created after WWII that has systematically assisted China’s development goals Thus the West needs to come to grips with fact that China is very much like an engine in a hydroelectric dam that needs to be synchronized and tuned with the rest of the engines for power to be generated evenly and smoothly. Lack of synchronization among engines has always spelled explosion.
China’s engagement to the international system perhaps is the single most important agenda item for the US and Europe in this decade. And while the Europeans seem to be quite unsettled by the approach taken by the Trump Administration in its dealings with China, the truth is that this tactic has had the merit of prompting a worldwide rethinking of the role that China should paly in the world economy and in the fight against inequality and poverty.
Given that China today is the sole country with manageable levels of debt to GDP and with significant monetary reserves China could be the best US ally in securing development in Latin America and Africa. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, for instance could become a partnership with Europe and the US to deploy the much needed infrastructure that is holding back development in Latin America and Africa. Further, should China seriously embrace its own advancements in solar technology it could instantly become the environmental leader of the world while giving an employment boost to many blue collar workers in the US who lost their jobs when China’s competitive edge got stronger than that of the US in steel and renewable energy production. The sole solar conversion of China would make the Paris Agreement on Climate Change needles . And lets not even enter the discussion of 5G here both Europe and the US are lagging behind China in a very serious manner. Further the upcoming growth wave after the impact of Covid19 has been fully absorbed will catapult trade between Europe and Asia with Africa absorbing part of the European value chain. This will demand a much better infrastructure that that prevailing in the Western hemisphere.
The moment has thus come to remind China that its current economic success would have never been possible without the liberal world order created after WWI. And that in spite of not having China at the table in 1945 the post war years have embraced the vision of China development by means of preventing the USSR from bombing its nuclear facilities; by turning Japan into a liberal democracy and by opening the doors of the World Bank and the WTO. Now China’s economy is reeling from the covid19 impact. And recovery will be impossible without Western demand for Chinese products and services. Thus the time has come to request reciprocity to the West and to have China participate in restructuring the liberal order that has accounted for the most formidable wave of development and human progress recorded by history of which China has been a beneficiary.
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