Tue | Jul 27, 2021

Norris McDonald | Soaring eagle, leaping dragon: Titans clash in world affairs

Published:Sunday | May 5, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) attend the meeting at Friendship Palace in Beijing Friday, April 26. Several world leaders met over two days to fine tune China’s US$5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative.
Norris McDonald
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World leaders met in Beijing between April 26 and 27 to fine-tune China’s US$5 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). President Donald Trump was absent, but President Vladimir Putin of Russias along with roughly 40 other head, of states, attended.

The BRI is China’s President Xi Jingping’s creative, global vision. It will link ports and roads to China. It will be a very important source of investment for capital formation and industrial development in the developing countries. Therefore, whereas the previous government gravely erred by not pursuing the port development, the present government made a wise decision to sign the memorandum of understanding signaling Jamaica’s intention to participate in the BRI.

China invested US$11.9 billion in 55 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean countries. These BRI participants see China as a new source of investment that is vitally needed to promote economic growth.

AMERICAN OBJECTIONS

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence told a recent meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, in Papua New Guinea, that China is trying to “saddle the world with debt”.

Pence said that the countries of the world ought to stick with America, who “doesn’t coerce or compromise your independence.”

Mike Pence clearly forgot about America’s ongoing coercive attitude towards Venezuela. Neither did he remember Jamaica’s own experience in the 1970s; Nicaragua now, and what about Haiti, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yugoslavia, who lost their sovereignty by force? Didn’t he remember that?

There is no doubt that China’s rapid advances are causing anxiety in America. This was the subject of a phone call President Donald Trump reportedly made to former president Jimmy Carter to complain about how China is “getting ahead of America”.

Emma Hurts, of National Public Radio, reports that Jimmy Carter told Donald Trump that China is ahead because America wasted money on wars and military spending.

“Do you want to know why China is ahead?” It is because “the United States is the most warlike nation in the history of the world”, Carter said in remarks made public.

Jimmy Carter told Donald Trump that “China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they are ahead of us (America) in almost every way… that’s why we are not able to economically compete”.

According to Jimmy Carter, the US wasted roughly US$3 trillion on military spending, while China has put her money into infrastructure development.

“And I think the difference is, if you take US$3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you’d probably have US$2 trillion left over. America would have high-speed rail railroad, bridges that aren’t collapsing, properly maintained, and our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong,” he said.

ECONOMIC SUCCESS

Because of its economic success, China was able to pull 800 million people out of poverty in 30 years.

“This is a great story in human history,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said.

But the story does not stop there.

Since 1979, because of China’s mighty economic clout, it is the leading engine of growth in the world economy. This has given China the ability to peacefully compete with America while, simultaneously, flexing its financial muscle through projects such as the BRI.

The Chinese Dragon is on the rise. The Chinese currency, the yuan, is now a global currency that many countries use instead of the American dollar in international trade.

Kimberley Amado writes that “China wants its currency, the yuan, to replace the US dollar as the world’s global currency.”

The signs are already there on how this can be achieved. Since China is the world’s largest purchaser of petroleum products, it has pushed aside the ‘petro dollar’ and introduced the ‘petro yuan’ as the new benchmark against which all purchased oil prices are to be determined.

TECHNOLOGICAL EDGE

China’s 5000MH microchip for self-driving motor cars is the world’s first. Another major first is the development of high-speed 5G communications. Also, China recently landed a space probe on the dark side of the Moon, the side that is not visible to Earth. This is another truly remarkable scientific and technological feat, another first in history.

It is because President Donald Trump fears that America is losing its technological edge that there is an increasing tendency to use politico-military means, in the form of national security threats, against both America’s allies and, purported foes, China, and Russia?

Carl von Clausewitz, a 19th-century German military strategist, was clearly right when he said that “war is a continuation of economics”.

What we are seeing today is a world in a virtual state of war as superpowers America, Russia, and China jostle for a competitive edge.

But as the two major titans – the Soaring Eagle America and the Leaping Dragon China – battle for supremacy, let’s remember that the American failures that Jimmy Carter outlined to President Trump, are not just a “Republican thing”.

President Barack Obama allocated US$2 trillion to build new, smart nuclear bombs, but in my opinion, did not allocate huge sums towards research and development in new technologies.

Meanwhile, America is lagging behind many countries in science education, mathematics, and technology.

And unless America can get her act together and seriously invest in public education, science technology, and research and development, it may well continue to lose its once-dominant global technological edge.

That is just the bitta truth!

- Norris McDonald is an economic journalist, social researcher, and political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and miaminorris@yahoo.com.