Dark New World....update

(Euope and China will be meeting soon.....expect the frequency of comments on this topic from Euro politicians to increase, the closer to the meeting itself. The summit takes place in a few days.)

EU 'doesn't take stance on sovereignty' in South China Sea: Mogherini

BEIJING (Reuters) - European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday that the European Union does not take a stance on sovereignty in South China Sea.
Speaking in Beijing, Mogherini said the EU called on all parties to respect legal decisions and uphold the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, including freedom of navigation.
European Council President Donald Tusk said he hoped an arbitration court ruling over the South China Sea that angered China would be a positive moment in resolving outstanding issues in the disputed waters.

( The original post, dated xmas of last year, below.....)

A country, a nation with a sense of destiny is nothing really.   Like a small boy boasting about someday “being somebody”, it is ignored by passersby, and those with prosperity and swagger already in ample possession.   As such, the Old South of pre 1860 America comes to mind.    A sense of purpose, yes, a way of life dear to it, without question.   But the power to enforce its will upon others, not a chance.
But what if that nation with the sense of purpose and being is strong?  Than therefore it is not weak, and its viewpoint must not only be recognized, but taken seriously.   And perhaps even…..feared.

It is simply astonishing how fast, how far China has come from those days in 1989 when it seemed China’s economic future as a nation rested on its ability to convince a group of white men to do a simple thing, every year.   That being to renew their “MFN” status.   Without it, China’s economy simply could not perform the takeoff needed.   It was then one of the most highly sought after pedigrees of recognition.    It was a contentious issue every single year.   Most Favored Nation was something America’s president really wanted for China.   

It was China’s very good fortune to have as leader of America George Bush (that being GB the Wise, as opposed to his son, George Bush the Invader).   Self anointed China Expert, whose experience and qualifications in Asia upon becoming our first representative in Beijing in twenty five years was having been shot down over the Pacific and having briefly run the CIA.  He was the type of Blue Blood that Nixon despised.  

If Bush were Chinese he would have either fled to Taiwan or been thrown in prison.  Yet during Nixon’s administration he landed one plum assignment after another.   Until one fine day he was Our Man in China.

Perhaps someday we may even be able to read in the Heavenly Kingdom Archives the deliberations  of China’s leaders leading up to that fateful day in early June ‘89, which transpired mere “moments” after MFN was renewed for China. 

What if Tiananmen had taken place before MFN was extended?  Would MFN still have gotten the vote?  Of course not.   But it did, and the rest is history.

Don’t all the “demands” by the West for human rights concessions from China seem so quaint now?   So yesterday?   The mere history of China having to depend upon America’s congress, year after year for such special trading privilege seems so quaint today.

Never has a nation become so powerful with so little bloodshed and violence towards other nations, as quickly as China has.  The overly used “without firing a shot” cliché is apt here.   China has invaded no country, nor even really shaken its finger in anger, in order to get its way.   While sycophants will marvel at the “bold strategy” of China, we all know it’s only a matter of numbers, really.     China has lots of people, and the rest of us are all Capitalists right? China’s rise would have been a non story if it was the size of any other Asian country. 

But it’s not, so it is.  China’s rise would have been even faster if Mao had retired many decades before.   Good luck is always a good thing.   Japan had become democratic and the East Asia India company was long gone.   Nothing stood in China’s way.

The leverage of the West over China since it reopened for business in 1978 is the lowest it has ever been.   True for nations as for people, that would be because the more money one has in the bank, the less nonsense from others to put up with.  Sycophants again will here say China has expertly manipulated the West to get what it wants.   And again I’ll say rubbish.

The West rather, for profit, has been more than willing to play China’s Game.  The West wasn’t outsmarted.   At the end of the day it just didn’t give a damn.  Unlike with everything in China, Pride has nothing to do with it, and shareholder returns do.  We simply sold our soul to China, and left the next generation to sort out the details.  And everyone except the Western middle class wins.  Greed, in short has triumphed.   Greed does win in the end.   

But now we are at a new stage in the development of Chinese relations with the West.   China’s growth is no longer just about internally raising its own people out of poverty, but in the eyes of Britain, and Europe and every country in Asia, it is about keeping their own economic growth intact.   In effect, over the last ten years, China has now gained the upper hand in its dealings with the West.   The West now needs China, in order to maintain its own growth and job creation, more than China needs us.  

Europe, in particular, like the slow boil of the frog in the pot, has now over time lost all semblance of leverage over China, without realizing it.   And now they can care less.

This reliance upon China’s continued economic growth is a zero sum game for the United States.   That is, any increase of prestige for China, is an equal decrease for the United States.    It’s a new bipolar world, and in effect, America’s unquestioned superiority over China is now gone, and short of a war, or internal Chinese upheaval, won’t be coming back anytime soon.

Latin America, Africa, Europe all trip over themselves to gain China’s favor.   The West needs China to keep its markets open for their companies.   Their individual companies need the blessing of Uncle Xi to prosper.    It’s an easy decision to make, and in true enlightened, Western fashion, pride has nothing to do with it.   They need exports to China's marketplace.  And for the ability to gain these economic favors that will continue to keep their own economies humming, The West is willing to look the other way, on a lot of things. 

In short the grand coalition of disgust and abhorrence is now replaced by nothing more than symbolic sporadic utterances of “dismay”, whenever China tends to violate those old fashioned rules of moral etiquette we all used to hold so dear.

Yet I’m not here to “fault” China for this.  China’s biggest contribution is its challenge to the “World Order”.   China’s challenge simply exposes all that is fake and unreal about ourselves.   We stand up, and pontificate and preach, and lecture.   That is, as long as we are ourselves prosperous.   It is human nature to tell the poor how to live their lives.  After all, the poor must have done something wrong along the way, yes?

Than when the poor suddenly have a little bit of money to spare we do what?  We stop our lecturing, throw our values by the wayside, and say something akin to “let’s do business together”.     The world is about making money and economic competition among nations.  That’s it.  But it’s a hell of a lot better than the other alternative that America itself has put so many countries through.  (Invasions, upheaval, civil war, death, and just overall fucking misery.)

China, flush with money, is not hesitant to challenge the way we have governed, and is right to see things from a different perspective.  Only China, with its power and new found wealth, and willingness to use it, can change how the West for generations now, has done things.  In short, China and its new found influence will force the West to reform its institutions and how it conducts business with the rest of the planet.  It’s a welcome change.  China must be accommodated, and rightfully so.  Simply because it has money, and no longer has to put up with decisions made by old white men who can’t even find China on a map. 

(What if the American spy plane incident had happened today, and not in 2001?  How would China have reacted?  What if the CIA “accidentally” bombed a Chinese Embassy today, and not in 1999?  How would China react?  How would the West react toward America?  Would it be as forgiving?  Methinks the situation would be much more volatile and dangerous now than then. )

The Rise of China has helped to reveal the West for what it really is, a bunch of nations full of themselves, and fake pretense.  We care not so much about who China has thrown in jail as we do about the rise of our exports to the Heavenly Kingdom.  And finally, because of the rise of China, and our recognition of such, we can finally strip away the illusions we wrap ourselves within, and see who we really are:  a coterie of peoples worried more about our economic self preservation and jobless rates than anything else.   In a sense, China has helped us “get off the couch”, and admit who we really are. 
It’s a new day, brother.  This is not what we’ve become, but what we always were, how we’ve always been, and now we can freely, crassly admit as much.

We are a morally ambiguous planet.  China has helped us understand that.  In short, we are more like China than we wish to admit.   We of Rousseau, Locke and Magna Carta fame, mostly don’t give a shit what happens in China, as long as we can sell another hamburger, or buy another screw.

The slowly rising tension in the South China Sea is too far away for most of us.  Does one think Europe really cares what happens there?  Europe, unlike America is more equipped to live in an Ambivalent Age.   It is a continent of many cultures, and well, things simply cannot be seen in black and white.   It is thus more willing to live within its own constraints.  We Americans don’t have that geographical problem.   Thus our view is less nuanced, and more rigid.   Why is that? 

America has more skin in the game.

While it’s corporate behemoths dominate Europe and seemingly everywhere else, China has studiously kept them at bay.   Google, Facebook, etc, are all banned.    It turns out China was right about the 和平演变。  China’s Elders, xenophobic and unsophisticated all, have always had a blind fear of Western domination through soft power.   Ie it would challenge the ability of these same leaders to control the masses, and in turn ensure they remained both xenophobic and unsophisticated as well.  Alas, these same leaders eventually Won the Day, and many of America’s best companies to this day are locked out of China, not by the People but by their caretakers.

As such America has something more to fight for.  Europe and nearly everyone else simply doesn’t.  
I say “nearly” everyone else.  Japan, and Australia watch with pensive eyes.  Korea tries and stays neutral.    These countries are “screwed” by geography.

But Europe and Latin America can care less.  They have already considered the rise of China a fait accompli.   (And some may even welcome it.)  Yet hasn’t everyone else?   But they’ve taken it a step further.  These nations have all made very strategic decisions.   They have, in essence, thrown their hat into the ring with China.   They can no longer depend upon the American Economic Engine, or even their own, to continue to grow their economies.   The rest of the West is now hedging its bets.   Better to bet upon China for our own economic growth as well.

Isn’t there a price to pay for this?  I’d say there is.  It’s no longer a case of the West agreeing to “look the other way”.   We just don’t care anymore.   We as a Western culture have come to terms with what China is.   And we’ve moved on.  It’s no longer The Plan to fight to engage China on our terms.  We’ve simply accepted we cannot.   It’s our admission  we cannot “change China”.   

China will decide what it will be and become, and so we’ve moved on.   Isn’t this what Enlightened Societies do?   We try and “save a soul”.   But sometimes we fail.   So we move on to the next wayward soul.

Don’t get me wrong.  The West has changed China in ways we simply cannot count.   From their dietary intake, to social mores, the West has influenced Chinese society in numerous ways.   
Where we’ve failed miserably though is our inability to change the direction of the Party.  An insular group of people, unaccountable to the masses, secretive, where Paranoia of the West and shrillness of tone are good for one’s career.

Most of us understand we cannot change China and how it views the world.  We cannot change China from how it wishes to strategically interact with the rest of us.  And that really sucks.  Except that most of us do not care anymore.  We’ve already accepted that China will do as it pleases and sooner or later will get its way.

And that’s on us.  We created this monster.  It is us that traveled suitcase in hand.    Built our factories there,  faxed over the purchase orders and wired over our investment.  We have all made many a foreign currency payment to these factories.   We have mentored many a Chinese.  Hell, we built China.    We made it wealthy, and strong.    We’ve even built its navy.

We gave it the means to buy the Waldorf Astoria, where American Presidents (and probably foreign leaders) will for the first time ever no longer stay, for fear of being bugged. 
Think of how humiliating that is.   The grandest hotel in New York, and now our President will have to go find a Hampton Inn.  

We capitalists will hang ourselves with our own rope, to paraphrase Marx.

I say we already have. 

Where will this all lead?

The only thing standing between China and it getting what it wants is probably America.  But America has already lost the PR battle.   Europe and Latin America and Africa just don’t care what China does anymore.   Their own economic interests prevent them from forever confronting China ever again.  They need China.  Not out of fear, as much as the inner confession that there is nothing they can do to bend this vast country to its will.   We live in a dark new world, where China’s sheer size wins the day.  

This is the New Stability our children will grow up in.

America’s view of China as a potential threat to the World Order is becoming increasingly “so like yesterday”.  No one really cares anymore.  It is America now that finds itself in the minority of nations,   isolated amongst both friends and enemies in how it views China. 

As such China can now rest easy.   This is the New Normal.   A China that will either get its way or punish those that refuse to bend to its geopolitical will.  A time where the United States will for the first time find itself almost alone.   The rest of the world has already shrugged.  It is our fate, and it is a fate we all deserve.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hello John, thanks for your comments above. The above post speaks more to "self censorship" from those with most to lose than anything else. It also speaks to the fact that nations "far away" will simply have other things on their mind, closer to home, which seems to be playing out at the moment. These next few years will dictate the foreseeable future in that region, with consequences we as yet cannot see, as the personalities of leaders we do not yet know, will go a long way towards deciding the direction of the region.


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