China's new imperialism is a cause for concern not only for Western democracies, but also for Russia, Japan, and India, as well as for developing countries that are heavily indebted to China as a result of its belt-and-road policies and other investments.

   It is hardly an exaggeration to regard Xi Jinping's China as a matter of global concern. With each passing month, with each passing year, China's already huge economy becomes even more dominant because its economic growth outpaces the progress of most other countries.

   Earlier hopes and assumptions about China's peaceful and cooperative intentions have evaporated in Hong Kong. The brutal crackdown was followed by a series of verbal and military threats against Taiwan and border skirmishes with India. The spat with Australia and the turmoil in the South China Sea demonstrate China's imperialist ambitions, ignoring its neighbors and aiming to establish itself as lord and master in Southeast Asia and the adjacent Pacific.

   To ensure that the world notices the iron fist behind Xi Jinping's expansionism, China has again increased its defense spending and continues to upgrade and modernize its military. Taking a cue from Russia, China appears to be developing the infamous hypersonic technologies that can nuke any place on Earth, and against which there is no defense.

   Most troubling, however, is Xi Jinping's new economic strategy aimed at increasing China's self-sufficiency. When a country seeks economic autonomy, alarm bells usually ring among its neighbors.

   In this interdependent, globalized world, who needs autarky unless the country is preparing for conflict, for war? China's ambition to become economically independent suggests two alternative explanations: Either Beijing expects foreign aggression and wants to defend itself, or it is itself planning a war against another country or countries. In either case, the conflict can be expected to be extensive, i.e.,  at world war level.

   Only a global sized conflict would justify autarky. Autarky without a looming global war makes no sense: it sacrifices the benefits of international competition and participation in the world economy for no reason.

   China's current policies are not ephemeral: they are likely to remain fundamental for a long time, as Xi Jinping has already secured his lifetime tenure at the helm.

   The consequences of China's long-term strategies are rather unpleasant for the rest of the world.  As China's economic (and military) weight continues to increase each year, Mr. Xi can wait and watch his power grow. One day, China will be the elephant in the room and will have overtaken all other economies. The world economy will then largely consist of China and the seven dwarfs (US, EU, Japan, Russia, India...).

   At that point, nothing will threaten China's supremacy. There would be no danger of another world war, as the new Pax Sinica would likely prevail for generations to come.

   Why, the world will ask, has Beijing's planned economy proven so superior to the liberal economies of the dwarfs?

   The answer is simple: because a planned economy can direct all activities toward a political goal, such as autarky and world domination.

   Liberal economies are by definition chaotic because they are geared toward maximizing individual and corporate wealth and pleasure. Even if politicians recognize that a country, such as China, is a common enemy and should be constrained, individuals, in their pursuit of profit and growth, will happily continue to trade with that country and help increase its power.

   China's quest to become self-sufficient, if successful, would mean that China's economy could exist (for a time) without the world, but the world could not exist without China. The current global shortage of microchips is just a taste of the shortages that would occur if China - the workbench of the world - stopped supplying the electronic and mechanical devices that all countries have grown accustomed to and depend on. The shelves of millions of dollar stores and China stores would be left empty.

   Two major powerhouses are currently striving for world domination: the Islamists and China. Let us hope none of them will succeed.

John Wantock

 

 

Update

China is watching you without your knowledge. With the support of the Chinese government and cheap sales to conquer the market abroad, Hikvision has become a global video surveillance heavyweight. The company would allow China to engage in espionage, according to information from The Atlantic.

Hikvision is a Chinese company specialized in the design of video surveillance equipment. This company, owned by Chinese public funds, has become one of the most important actors of the sector, but it seems to leave an open door to spying for the Chinese state.

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