The Real Threat to the West
In today's increasingly chaotic and unpredictable world, many threats face the ‘Western World’ such as the increasing aggression and ambition of the Russian Federation under President Putin, the ever-present threat of radical Islamist terrorism, the countries who indirectly support it, and the ineffectiveness of the West's leaders. However, I'd argue that the biggest threat to the rule-based and human rights centered order which the West created after the Second World War is one country: the People's Republic of China.
To be clear, this is not an attack upon the ordinary people who live under the brutal and Orwellian regime of the Communist Party of China, those people are just as much a victim of the regime as any other country suffering under the malevolent influence of the CPC as they have no choice in who governs them. That being said, it is time for the West to prioritize those who pose the most genuine, credible and long-term threat to the West.
The Democrats and ordinary Americans alike are rightfully concerned about Russian influence in the upcoming presidential elections, however, in some ways, the Russian Federation is on the decline. As the columnist, Leonid Bershidsky in the Moscow Times states, “The sanctions account for 0.2 percentage points of that difference, the oil price drop for another 0.6 percentage points. Though the unfortunate combination of factors made Russia fall behind its large emerging-markets peers and the European Union’s post-Communist member states, the effect of the shocks has been relatively contained.”
This quote was in response to the IMF's prediction, which the columnist called "counterfactual," that "from 2014 through 2018, the Russian economy grew by an average of 0.5 percent a year; yet according to the IMF's calculations, the rate could have been about 1.1 percentage points faster had it not been for three factors: Western sanctions over the annexation of Crimea, the drop in the price of oil, and the fiscal and macroeconomic responses to these shocks." However, it is clear that the aggressive and imperialistic Putin has caused damage to his own country's economy by the action he has taken in office despite the relative containment of these effects.
In short, the Russian Federation might seem frightening to the West with its expansionist and imperialist foreign policy and Putin’s usage of information warfare to achieve desired results in Western elections but it certainly isn’t as threatening if you put it in context. Which leads me to my main point, the People’s Republic of China has surpassed the Russian Federation as the largest and increasingly most credible threat to the West.
The People’s Republic under the leadership of the President of the CPC, Xi Jinping, has undertaken a series of economic projects which, if unchecked, would ensure that the People’s Republic would become and remain the dominant political and economic power in the world for many years to come.
One of the most alarming to those who are aware is the “Belt and Road” initiative which aims in part to ensure that the People’s Republic is the dominant power in the developing world and other parts of the world, especially throughout Asia.
On September 6, 2019, the People's Daily, the main English translated newspaper of the People's Republic reported the following, “We are willing to promote external trade and two-way investments with Arab states in order to pursue win-win cooperation so that businesses can conduct exchange and dialogues,” said Chen Jian’an, Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), during his opening speech at the Third China-Arab States Business Summit which was held in China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Sept. 5.”
This Summit is just one of the aspects that the Central People’s Government is trying to achieve and its aim is to overtake the United States as the premier political and economic power in the world. The Arab world has been closely tied to the United States since the Americans helped Saudi Arabia set up their oil industry, one of their most lucrative and stable sources of income since the founding of the country in 1932.
There has always been an uneasy nature between the alliance of political convenience of Arab countries, which practice forms of government and judicial punishment that Western nations find barbaric. US Presidents of all political stripes have in private, and sometimes publicly, called upon Arab countries to adopt more rights for their citizens including democracy and basic rights for LGBTQ minorities and women in particular.
So, it would be logical to conclude that autocratic Arab leaders would prefer to work primarily with a country which does not guarantee human rights to its own citizens and form an alliance based purely on economic need and mutual benefit. This alliance would secure the standing of the autocratic leaders themselves, leading to a placation of their desire for political freedom and present a chance for the People’s Republic to bring another region under their political and economic influence.
Even more concerning is China’s expanding influence in the African continent which as readers will know needs economic development urgently. This is the greatest opportunity for the Central People’s Government to, in essence, control an entire continent’s foreign policy towards China purely by economics as the African countries which they are working with owe massive debt to Chinese banks. Furthermore, these banks all fall under the purview of the Central People’s Government due to the state-controlled aspect of the economy of China.
As Fair Planet reports, “According to the Center for Global Development, by the beginning of this year, eight countries that had signed up for the Belt and Road initiative were at a risk of defaulting on loan repayment. These countries that are the poorest in their areas including Djibouti, Pakistan, Mongolia and Laos among others owe more than half of their foreign debt to China.” It continues, with one of the prominent lines after being “In cases of inability to service these loans, debt diplomacy applies where either the loan is forgiven in exchange for silence on key issues like human rights violations, political influence or China acquiring strategic equities as was the case in Sri Lanka.”
In short, there has been confirmation that the Belt and Road Initiative is a double purpose program benefiting China for the most part. The infrastructure projects, the loan forgiveness, all at the cost of the individual nation's sovereignty over its foreign policy and voice on issues such as human rights abuses in the People's Republic. It is a devil's bargain in all but name and the cost to the nations who fall prey to this trap and don't get out of it quickly will be immense for a long time to come.
The ever-growing expansion of this economic and political trap dressed up as an economic development program comes at a time when the United States and Europe are grappling with their own existential crises including the Trump Presidency, the Brexit Debate in the UK and the continuing populism of both Western and Eastern Europe. The Central People's Government can sense that the West is weak at this time and is using this time of weakness to ensure its domination, both economic and political, for the next century to come.
I urge the Trump Administration and the West, in general, to put aside petty differences and remain focused on the big threats facing the Western way of life as we know it. Furthermore, one despairs at how the self-caused weakness of the West has enabled the CPC to become a force more powerful and malevolent than it has any right to be in a just and fair world.
Despite Trump being the epitome of “America First,” if he wants to truly stop the malevolent CPC and its client state, he must focus on preventing the Belt and Road Initiative, which ensures the dominance of China over large swathes of the world by investing in underdeveloped nations at a rate unprecedented in modern times.
These underdeveloped nations need political stability and infrastructure, both of which the United States can provide in different and non-interventionist ways. Otherwise, it is only natural that they will gravitate to the most attractive offer on the table, which is China’s offering.
Furthermore, it has to be said that the People's Republic isn't going anywhere for some time despite my disgust at its government's actions. We need to find a balance between containment of its economically and politically expansionist government and acceptance of its existence. This is vital for the health of the world as otherwise, the world will lack basic human rights to a larger extent than is allowable morally at this time.
Action must be taken and soon. Otherwise, I think unfortunately that a large part of the world will never see a truly democratic government in their lifetime or for many years.