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Will China dominate the future?

CM 19/05/2021 1

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After a two-hour conversation with President Xi Jinping in February 2021, President Joe Biden tweeted that if the United States did not “get moving,” China is going “to eat our lunch.” A follow-up White House communique highlighted Biden’s “fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses [of one million Muslim Uyghurs] in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan.”

Biden’s comments must have been music to the ears of the staff of the Halifax International Security Forum, a Washington D.C.-based organization for international government and military officials, strategists, academics, journalists, and business leaders, dedicated to strengthening cooperation among democratic nations.
In the fall of 2020, HFX published China vs. Democracy, in which Robin Shepherd (HFX vice president, former Moscow bureau chief of The Times of London, author of A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem With Israel and Czechoslovakia: The Velvet Revolution and Beyond) drew on interviews with 250 experts to refute the “conventional wisdom” that an economically vibrant PRC would over time provide more freedom for its people, as a “foreign policy miscalculation of historic proportions.” Shepherd makes the case that China, “the most powerful authoritarian state in history,” has become a “virus that endangers the world.” And he maintains that effective deployment of the “almost unimaginable power and wealth and technological prowess of the United States,” in concert with its “vast array of allies,” will force “regime reconfiguration” in China.
Shepherd mobilizes a considerable amount of evidence to substantiate his claims about the malignant motives and bad behavior of China’s leaders. Citing internet censorship, an infrastructure of surveillance, detention, indoctrination, incarceration and torture, and the crackdown on advocates of democratic autonomy for Hong Kong, Shepherd reveals that Freedom House has placed China in its lowest category: “Not free.” Capitalist, nationalist, and Leninist, China, he predicts, may produce “an even more complete form of totalitarianism than Stalin could have dreamed of.”
China’s economy produces 70% of the world’s counterfeit goods. PRC operatives steal intellectual property from governments and corporations and target advanced weapons systems. China controls many of the world’s most important supply chains.
China uses social media to spread propaganda and disinformation; its 75 Confucius Institutes in the United States subvert academic freedom. The One Belt One Road Initiative (on which China will spend $1.3 trillion by 2027) and “debt trap diplomacy” give Beijing financial leverage over dozens of infrastructure-starved countries on almost every continent. With a defense budget of $200 billion a year, a seven-fold increase since 2000, China has extended its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. A 2020 report of the Pentagon concluded that the PRC now surpasses the United States in naval shipbuilding, ballistic missiles, and integrated air defenses.
 “Unless this behavior is rebutted, and rebutted firmly,” Shepherd writes, “there is no real-world prospect of its aggression petering out.”
China vs. Democracy contains no shades of gray. China’s leaders, Shepherd insists, are “obsessively focused on staying in power” and dominating the world. Acknowledging that they have raised the standard of living in their country, he hastens to add, “no one should forget” that the communists “caused a lot of the poverty in the first place.”
Although he does not examine actions by Western powers that may have threatened or harmed China, Shepherd deems PRC interference in world affairs “unprecedented and unprovoked.” Although intelligence reports were “neither definitive nor easy to understand,” Shepherd declares that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was right to ban Huawei from building Great Britain’s 5G infrastructure: “where there is even the slightest risk to national security, sovereignty or democratic rights, Chinese tech companies must either be excluded completely or regarded as guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.”
China vs. Democracy concludes with a bucketful of recommendations. Some of them – that democracies should pool resources and find synergies on artificial intelligence, and a call for government-supported research and development – are eminently reasonable, but vague. Others – making India the sixth permanent member of the UN Security Council; releasing African nations from debt; implementing investment in Latin America “to rival the Marshall Plan”; pushing Mexico and Canada to increase their defense budgets – seem distant from a threat Shepherd deems dire and imminent.
A few – a pledge that democracies will stop business activities that aid and abet China to oppress its people, and cease buying or trading products made by forced labor or the result of counterfeiting or intellectual property theft – seem costly, impractical, and likely to provoke retaliation by China. And one – defense departments of democratic nations should formalize their relationship with HFX “as a ready-made hub for the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas in a race to the top to meet the challenge from China” – is self-serving.
Awash in arresting aphorisms (“Uninterested in exporting communist ideology, China wants cash, not comrades. It is more Marks and Spencer than Marx and Engels”), China Vs. Democracy exudes confidence in its analysis. That said, it seems to me the jury is still out on whether HFX and company will turn out to be seers or scaremongers.
The writer is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.
By Robin Shepherd 
Halifax International Security Forum (HFX)
Free download: halifaxtheforum.org/china-handbook/en/


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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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