Tuesday, 11 November 2014


In the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Beijing in November 2014 has proved that China is evolving into a power broker between US and Russia. Focusing primarily on trade, monetary, and other macroeconomic issues, the Chinese government has been trying to ameliorate relations with the US by striking a deal on tariffs in technology as well as other trade issues, including the larger one of forging greater free trade by supporting the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). China has even gone the extra mile to ameliorate relations with its rival Japan, realizing that it has no choice but to cooperate otherwise there is a net loss in terms of both economic and geopolitical influence in Asia with the US benefiting from the weakening of these two neighbors.

 China’s efforts to forge greater global stability using economic issues as catalyst are taking place against the military-solutions oriented policy that the US has been pursuing toward Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Oddly enough, China is using the APEC summit to deflect attention away from that crisis and its modalities and toward a diplomacy based on macroeconomic issues. Clearly, the rate of Chinese growth has slowed, its “shadow banking” may be creating greater uncertainty than officials wish to admit, its currency may not be as solid as the regime wishes, and its efforts to help stabilize Russia against US-EU sanctions have been costly for now, though with longer term benefits.

For its part, China wants regional and international economic integration because it is now confident of its global economic position emerging as the most promising for the 21st century. In an interview with a Chinese news service, Obama had to deny that US policy toward China is based on containment at all levels from economic to political and military. Without commenting on the US containment policy, Beijing has stressed that the world economy is not stable and it needs further efforts through greater regional and global integration. 

It is incredibly odd that the US started as the cheerleader of globalization under the guise of the New World Order a generation ago, but it is now China taking that position and the US much more guarded.
Realizing that smaller nations are cautious when larger ones propose models of economic integration, China has tried to reassure the world that it is not after creating a “patron-client” integration model, that is one based on NAFTA where Mexico is the client state and US the patron deriving most of the benefits; or Germany using its creditor status to dominate the debtor nations in the Southern and Eastern periphery of Europe.  "China does not want to control or steal from anyone, nor does it want to marginalize any country… It wants to totally change the old way of winner-takes-all mentality."

The reassuring rhetoric aside, China is aiming to become the world’s number one economic power, at least for now. After signing free trade agreements with South Korea and Japan, it is now scheduled to do the same with Australia. However, the monetary policy of China is more tightly controlled by the quasi-statist regime than the market-pegged currencies of its trading partners, thus giving China a distinct competitive advantage. However, because so many multinational corporations are now operating out of China, the benefits are as much for them making greater profits owing to low production costs as they are for the Chinese economy and government. .

Emphasizing that Beijing wants both economic and political harmony between nations, without using uneven terms of trade to take advantage of the weaker ones, China has been presenting itself as a broker of stability and harmony rather than a power hungry nation trying to impose its hegemony. The government in Beijing even goes as far as assuring people around the world that it wants social harmony and social justice, not exploitation that many smaller nations fear from the stronger ones. This is an obvious reference to the US and northwest European countries that have been pursuing models of integration aimed at hegemony.
These days when all the focus of the US is on reviving the old Cold War, resorting to unilateral military solutions and covert operations to destabilize as many of its foes around the world as possible, China comes along trying to make its mark on the world scene through global economic integration that Beijing deems catalytic to eventually becoming the world’s dominant power.

While US Republican congressmen and advocates of militarism are arguing over the types of military solutions for various regional crises around the world, the Chinese are working hard to present themselves as the catalysts to global stability and harmony. Clearly, their actions are hardly reveals anything approximating altruism as they wish to imply. However, the issue here is what model of world development and stability best serves the interest of nations, the one that the US has been projecting or the one that China is presenting?  

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