China has adopted a Late Western economic model as the most efficacious methods of global hegemony.

With President Trump’s rhetoric about “America First,” criticism of China on a deeper level than the shadow-boxing of prior U.S. Admirations and a commitment to renegotiate trade deals, and the prospect of a new policy of protectionism, China has been prompt in claiming the role of leader of globalization.

While it is still difficult to see how Trump can proceed with his “America First” economic policies, given the leading roles that have been granted to Goldman Sachs executives in his administration, the rhetoric has provided an opening for China’s leadership bid. Goldman Sachs has expressed concern at Trump’s intentions. The bank which perhaps now more than any other bank has become synonymous with globalized plutocracy, has warned investors of a possible trade war between the USA and China. Sue Chang reporting for Market Watch wrote:

“‘Trump has been publicly critical of U.S. trade policy for decades and made it a key aspect of his campaign; we see little reason to believe that he will not follow through on these commitments in general terms,’ said Andrew Tilton, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Goldman Sachs, in a report he co-authored with Alec Phillips, senior U.S. political economist… ‘With the new U.S. administration only a couple of weeks old, it’s hard to be confident,’ said Tilton. But he remains hopeful that the two largest economies in the world will reach a mutual understanding and avoid a showdown.”[1]

As Vanity Fair headlined, Wall Street is “terrified” of a trade war with China.[2] While some tough talking between the USA and China over a few decades meant exactly nothing in real terms, and business relations proceeded regardless, it is worrying that the unpredictable White House maverick might mean what he says.

China at Davos

China declared its readiness to assume leadership of the globalization process at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos during January 17 to 20, 2017.  Prior to the conference, Jiang Jianguo, head of the State Council Information Office, stated at a meeting of the World Trade Organization at Geneva what the intentions of President Xi at the forum would be:

“President Xi would go to Davos to push for development, cooperation and economic globalization in order to build ‘a human community with shared destiny.’ ‘With the rise of populism, protectionism, and nativism, the world has come to a historic crossroad where one road leads to war, poverty, confrontation and domination while the other road leads to peace, development, cooperation and win-win solutions.’”[3]

Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, in a briefing on Davos, said that “China would respond to the international community’s concern over globalization by putting forward Beijing’s opinions on how to ‘steer economic globalization toward greater inclusiveness.’ Li said criticism of trade protectionism leveled at China, by Trump and others, was unjust. ‘Trade protectionism will lead to isolation and is in the interest of no one,’ he said.”[4]

Sam Dean reporting for the Daily Telegraph stated that Xi Jinping launched into an effusive defense of globalization at the first day of the WEF, and that Xi “set the tone for the week-long conference.” “‘No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,’ he told delighted elites from the world of business and finance.”[5]

“President Xi is the first Chinese leader to attend the World Economic Forum, and he has swept into Davos as the champion of free trade and the unlikely guardian of the international order, throwing down the gauntlet to the incoming Trump administration with a theatrical flourish, notes our man on the ground, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.”[6]

WEF Response

The WEF reaction to the Chinese position at Davos is zealous, as Anna Bruce-Lockhart, editor for WEF, writes: “As America and parts of Europe contemplate protectionism, and globalization and free trade come under threat, can China emerge as a leader in the new world order?”[7] Xi had told the Davos meeting that China was ready to assume nothing less than leadership of the world:

“In his opening address, Xi told a packed conference hall that the Chinese were ‘leaders of our times’. He said his country was ready to make globalization work for everyone, and not just the few. ‘The people of all countries expect nothing less from us, and this is our unshirkable responsibility as leaders of our times,’ he said.”[8]

China as the center of the world is not a new idea. To the contrary, it is very ancient. During her formative stages Chinese emperors coalesced through conquest sundry Asian ethnicities into a Chinese civilization and a Chinese people. A strong, centralized state welded the disparate elements together. The Chinese emperor was regarded as no less than “Emperor of the World.” He had a “Mandate from Heaven.’ China was the “Middle Kingdom;” the axis mundi. The emperor embodied the divinity, and performed annual rites at an altar in the Forbidden City to ensure that the cosmos would continue in orderly fashion. When King George III offered numerous blandishments of commerce to China, the Emperor Chia Ch’ing replied that China does not need anything from a foreign power, and that the King of the British Empire is obliged to acknowledge his subservience to China’s Throne, writing: “My capital is the hub and center about which all quarters of the globe revolve. Its ordinances are most august and its laws are strict in the extreme…”

Given its heritage, China does not play second fiddle to anyone. Previously they used the rhetoric of liberating the world with Maoism; now they use the rhetoric of free trade globalization, again with messianic rhetoric; promising to usher a new age of human progress and happiness.

In the name of a “multi-polar world” China assumed a partnership with Russia on the pretext of opposing U.S. globalist hegemony, during which time China seems to have achieved all its goals and left Russia in the dust, assuming the leadership role over much of the Far East and Central Asia that was once the domain of Russia. When America pursued world hegemony behind the banner of globalization, China posed as an opponent of globalization in partnership with its old enemy, Russia. BRICS always was an unlikely challenge to globalization, given that the idea had been hatched at Goldman Sachs,[9] which poses the question as to whether it was intended to be the back door to subverting Russia and others? However, Goldman Sachs considers the idea as a failure.[10]

Now China presents herself as the leader of globalization, for the sake of humanity.

The WEF report states further:

“Xi also emerged as a global voice on free trade. Speaking only two months after US President Donald Trump announced plans to ditch the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Xi called for nations to reject the protectionism threatening multilateral trade agreements and embrace the win-win potential of interconnected growth. ‘We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy,’ he said. ‘No one will emerge as the winner in a trade war.’… As America’s status as the world’s foremost economic power hangs in the balance, does the world stand ready to embrace China’s rising star?[11]

Indentions Addressed to New Zealand

Prior to his leading a 200 member delegation to New Zealand Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addressed a letter “to New Zealand, with love,” outlining his free trade agenda. Against a long background of industrial dismantling and asset sales, about which New Zealand political and business coteries remain jubilant, China proposes that New Zealand is integrated into a regional Pacific trading bloc. Since Trump withdrew the USA from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, scuttling a primary aim of Trilateral capitalists, China aims to assume leadership in creating an alternative Pacific bloc. China is already well established in other island states within Polynesia and Micronesia. Li wrote of this Pacific offensive:

China and New Zealand should take real actions to advance regional economic integration, to inject greater driving force for regional and even global economic recovery and the resumption of robust growth… We need to jointly uphold world peace and regional stability, promote economic globalisation, build an open world economy, and make new contributions to the development and prosperity of our region and the world.”[12]

At a press conference in New Zealand the true face of China behind the grinning, handshaking and other such diplomatic niceties which have brought it a long way since the Red Guards “water boarded” deviationists, Premier Li nonetheless showed how thin the façade is when Chinese omnipotence is questioned. Even the mainstream news media has called it an implied or veiled threat. The question was raised regarding a current enquiry into the dumping of state-subsidized Chinese steel onto New Zealand. The Chinese response at the time, late last year, was to threaten retaliatory measures against New Zealand dairy and kiwifruit exports.[13] The investigation is ongoing. When a pressmen raised this with Li the response was again a “veiled threat,” with reference to New Zealand dairy exports.

One Belt, One Road

New Zealand was the first developed state to enter a free trade agreement with China. However, because of New Zealand’s debt levels it was also an early victim of self-inflicted privatization, notably by a Socialist Government under the well-meaning but hijacked Prime Minister David Lange, after which ex-Labour Party ministers such as Trevor De Cleene, Roger Douglas, and Richard Prebble, good socialists all, showed their true color, and jumped aboard the free trade express and formed the libertarian Act Party, and Mike Moore became head of the World Trade Organization.

New Zealand was an easy victim for China’s blandishments, like a small island state or an African basket-case. Now Premier Li has come offering investments in infrastructure, as well as the opportunity to supply the coolie labor, since New Zealand’s own ample pool of unemployed would not be sufficiently servile. Although this has been denied, a reference (below) by Mr. Jacobi of the New Zealand China Council in regard to the free flow of labor might suggest otherwise.

A particularly perceptive article by Sam Sachdeva for Business Day cites a report by credit rating agency Fitch Ratings, which states that investments might have more of a political agenda than a viable economic motive.[14] Certainly geopolitics would seem to be the motive for China’s investments in other Polynesian nations such as Fiji and Tonga. New Zealand is bigger and whiter, but just as prone to such economic blandishments. Canterbury University international relations professor and China specialist Anne-Marie Brady states that apart from economic expansion, “There are also geopolitical considerations, with China trying to boost its leadership credentials through ‘soft power’ as the United States increasingly looks inward, having withdrawn from the 12-nation TPPA free trade deal under Donald Trump.”[15]

Some commentators are seeing the Li delegation as part of the “One Belt, One Road” or “New Silk Road” $1 trillion initiative launched by China in 2013. This is intended to establish a link from China across Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe, “by funding hundreds of infrastructure projects.” New Zealand China Council executive Stephen Jacobi enthused:

“It’s…so that goods and services and people and capital and technology and everything can flow along these routes in a more modern way. So it’s really an economic development strategy, and it’s also an integration strategy: it’s trying to bring all of these economies that are located along this Belt and Road closer together and to join them up more seamlessly.”[16]

Mr. Jacobi’s message is unequivocal: the free movement of capital, resources, labor and technology. Apparently this supposed “belt and road” includes every region of the world; it must have many twists and turns.

Mr. Jacobi’s candid statement is the stuff of conspiracy theory, and if alleged by a lesser mortal would be ridiculed. It is notable that Mr. Jacobi refers to “people” in the same context as “good and services and capital and technology,” and obviously sees no wrong. It is a materialistic mentality that regards people in economic terms: homo economicus as the next stage of human development, to be treated as commodities like everything else has become a commodity. Peter Sutherland, a founding director of the World Trade Organization, European Union commissioner, presently United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, recently retired chairman of Goldman Sachs, along with much else, has said much the same thing, and has lambasted the rise of “nationalism” and “populism.”[17] Mr. Jacobi in far away New Zealand has referred to people “fearing” what they do not know in regard to criticism of China’s globalization and investment agenda. It is the old bogeyman of condemning opposition to the de-humanization of humanity for the sake of economics, as “xenophobia” and “racism.” The Left are fellow-travelers with the oligarchs in such issues and receive their financial patronage.[18] In this regard it is also notable that Premier Li had special praise for New Zealand’s “diversity,” and alluded to the numbers of Chinese students etc. who come here; a reminder of what New Zealand owes to its Chinese benefactors. Any question of New Zealand’s relationship with China is typically met with allegations of “racism.”

Conclusion

While the British Empire sought a railroad from the Cape to Cairo, Chinese ambitions see no limit. The “New Silk Road” spans the globe. The era of a new dawn in human happiness has for a long time been experienced by Tibet, where China works symbiotically with Western capital in exploiting the mineral wealth of this “special economic zone,” regardless of its ancient heritage and ecology. China has adopted a Late Western economic model as the most efficacious methods of global hegemony after the futility of Marxist dogma at its most excessive: Maoism. American exceptionalism might be undergoing a deviation, but the same outlook has been taken up by China, even using similar messianic rhetoric as the USA about world economic prosperity, progress and happiness. Western capital is pleased to hitch its wagon to another state that also has the weaponry to impose its will on reticent nations, even if only implied in the politest way possible.

References

[1] Sue Chang, “Goldman Sachs warns investors to brace for a looming trade war with China,” Market Watch, February 10, 2017; http://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-warns-investors-to-brace-for-a-looming-trade-war-with-china-2017-02-09

[2] http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/02/why-wall-street-is-terrified-of-a-trade-war-with-china

[3] “China, Xi to promote globalization at Davos, not war and poverty,” Reuters, 11 January 2017; http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/11/chinas-xi-to-promote-globalization-at-davos-not-war-and-poverty.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] Sam Dean, “Davos 2017: Chinese leader Xi Jinping says there will be ‘no winners’ in a trade war as World Economic Forum begins,” The Telegraph, January 17, 2017; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/01/17/davos-2017-breaking-news-updates-world-economic-forum-begins/

[6] Ibid.

[7] Anna Bruce-Lockhart, “Is China the new world power? The view from Davos,” World Economic Forum, January 20, 2017; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/china-new-world-power-davos-2017/

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Dreaming with BRICS, the path to 2050,” Goldman Sachs, http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/archive/brics-dream.html

[10] “Goldman’s BRICS era ends as fund folds after years of losses, Bloomberg, November 9, 2015; http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/archive/brics-dream.html

[11] Anna Bruce-Lockhart, op. cit.

[12] Li Keqiang, “To New Zealand, with love,” NZ Herald, March 27, 2017; http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11825980

[13] Sam Sachdeva, “MBIE launches investigation into Chinese steel dumping,” Business Day, December 23, 2016; http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/87920079/MBIE-launches-investigation-into-Chinese-steel-dumping

[14] Sam Sachdeva, “What doe Chinese investment mean for New Zealand?”, Business Day, March 30, 2017; http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/90921865/what-does-chinese-investment-mean-for-new-zealand

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “EU accused of buckling at the knees in the face of populist attitudes to immigration,” Irish Times, June 13, 2014; http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/eu-accused-of-buckling-at-the-knees-in-the-face-of-populist-attitudes-to-immigration-1.1830642

[18] K. R. Bolton, “Soros raising $10 million for anti-Trump revolt,” Katehon, January 23, 2017; http://katehon.com/article/soros-raising-10-million-anti-trump-revolt