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The last duel. Usa-China confrontation

 

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Usa has to consume less, China has to consume better. Otherwise they will consume fast all global resources, considering among them even atmosphere and water.

Basically and with all the limits of a journalistic simplification, that are the main reasons threatening the future of the world. Most of instability, wars, social struggles, political turmoil, religious “supposed” clashes risk to fall in the cup of Usa-China confrontation, taking a dangerous shape and a poisoning taste. Till now this is a “problem” apparently with no solution. At stake is the new world order: it will be in the  Euroasiatic side or still in the old Euroatlantic bank? We use the prefix “Euro” just as geopolitical reference, because actually Europe doesn’t count to much politically but could be a “loot” (a big market and a producer of high technology) for both sides in the confrontation. That is the main reason that brought Washington to secure Europe form Eastern Moscow influence and dangerous bonds, putting a big foot in Ukraine. That is the reason why Usa need Turkey as ally to secure Southeastern border of a weak Europe and to stabilize ME (a huge and long term task). Washington to defend its hegemonic power has to keep control on both Atlantic and Pacific rim lands and keep a strong grip on sea ways. The engine of Us economy needs a global system to work at a proper pace: fast. Indeed America has the biggest submarine fleet in number and high technology warfare and a mighty naval surface force with 11 Navy carriers strike groups that gives to Us power projection capability a stunning advantage that will last for a long time yet. Not need to mention the Us strategic power.

China, in the other side, is pursuing a comprehensive anti-access/area denial capability but it is not able, yet, to project its military power at sea and far from mainland. At the same time most of Chinese supplies and commercial trades take the sea ways instead inland routes. It follows the international trend with 90% of trade taking the route of sea. The revamped “Silk route” initiative, till now, is more a wishful thinking than a reality. China is also the first world ship builder in deadweight tonnage. And shipping is the life blood of global economy. That is the reason, among others, because China has an absolute need to control South China Sea area and find alternative way to the Malacca strait choke point, both at sea and sponsoring the build of a new waters way through an inland channel. Sonda strait has limitation for ship size, Lombok needs more days of navigation. These are some of the reasons because confrontation is taking
place at sea.

Just to make some examples and to have an idea about what is moving behind the scene of Usa-China game. “Us commitment to Asia has not to be underestimated, and to do so would be a severe miscalculation” that is the mindset inside the inner circle of Ash Carter, Us Defense secretary. White house, in the last year, has been strengthening alliances, fostering key partnership, reinforcing institutions, promoting trade and investments links, and with the new Maritime security initiative signed on table of ASEAN, stated, without any doubts, its new stance in the region. Not to mention the pressing on Japan to play a new regional security role, that needs, of course, to get rid of the Japanese constitution limits.  Even Singapore Air force facilities have a key role for Us Sigint/Elint activities, as well Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are key partners in regional security policy. The Freedom of navigation operation in South China Sea, last month, with the Uss Lassen sneaking around contested islands waters, seems to be more a China tutoring mission than a direct challenge to Beijing. At least listening DoD officials statements: “China is more likely to play a constructive role regionally and globally when Usa and our allies and partners demonstrate our resolve to uphold the principled international order”. But could be an illusive understanding, despite Washington ME disengagement and “micromanagement” in the war against IS, Us foreign policy became quite assertive if not aggressive in recent years.

In the other side, China will surely tighten rules about religious freedom till the end of the year. The spread of false informations trough social media is now under criminal law rule; the over 600 millions of “netizens” are every day  more hungry of free news. Chinese communist party is weak, it missed the complex task to deal with social, economical and cultural huge changes of the last years. Heavy pollution and massive new urbanized people needs are just the tip of the iceberg of a long list of problems. Some observers think that the one party system is approaching to a dangerous crisis. History will tell us. Beijing even played a role in stopping the so called Green economy, an Obama first term strong policy. It was bogged down by the Chinese will to enter in the production business, not just selling the raw resources necessary for the industry (China is the world main producer of required rare lands). And Beijing holds almost half of Us debt  in Treasury bonds (a race with Japan about who is the first Us creditor). But a huge debt is usually a “problem” for the creditor.

We need a brief historical flashback to understand better how the past shaped the present confrontation framework. After the Berlin wall fall (Mauer fall) Usa took advantage of its system “victory”. In 1994 in Algeri conference of Wto, the new map of power were drown, with new rules and rulers. Globalization started to run. At that time was not so bad, specially for development countries, given the new economic chances they received. But in 1998 problems came. Europe social-economic system rigidities pushed the Old continent to a constant system downgrading. A European “one currency” framework needed  homogeneity of taxation and mobility of work forces, just to quote some requirements among several. So the predictable swap among “high tech content” productions and “high intensive labor” productions did not work. With the first that should have concentrate in area like Europe (and 1st world) and the second supposed to spread all over the so called Third world to give new chances of development. It was not as planned. Financial globalization was soon out of control. The world was too much complex to fill a “one model” development and IMF and WB made some mistakes that ignited local, regional then global financial crisis. The more, Usa showed a stagnant salaries trend. So politics started to blink eye to Wall street, to build an artificial development model, sort of “incestuous” relation between politics and financial interests. Easy money policy lead Us citizens to increase their properties folder (and their debts) instead their salaries. Us Federal control rules over financial trade system were weakened. The bases of disaster were established.  The economic slow down, after  9/11/2001, probably was just steeper than expected, because Us economy was already in trouble before the “Great event” of terror. Anyway crisis after crisis the Us economic wealth was steadily erased. So came probably the decision (thanks to new extraction technologies too) to start to exploit the inland strategic reserves of oil, that pushed Usa in the oil market with the will to lead the production scene in the present and the future. The forecasted end of hydrocarbons age  (several times announced) could had given the  political illusion of a sound long term project.    

The “Pacific duel” sees no solution on the horizon, because of weakness of politics in both sides. Nobody in Washington or in Beijing has the political strength to tell to its people “downsize your life standards” or “consume/produce more correctly”.

Copyright Derin Ekonomi – published on December 2015 issue

.

Pierre Chiartano

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
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