Friday, July 17, 2020

Coronavirus News (178)

James Ferguson illustration of Martin Wolf’s column ‘The world falls apart as the US withdraws’

The world falls apart as the US withdraws An administration that cannot govern makes a stark contrast with China ........  Covid-19 has not transformed the world, at least so far. But it has accelerated its development, technologically, socially and politically. .........  The west has valuable assets in any competition for influence with China. Many still admire its core values of freedom and democracy. Western cultural and intellectual influence remains far greater than that of China.  .......   The US has been able to create and sustain long-lived alliances of like-minded countries. If one adds together the nations that naturally align with the US, including those of Europe, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australasia and, increasingly, India, their economic and political weight remains huge. .........   Mr Trump’s is a post-values US. It is also post-competence. .......  if the state does not work, nothing does. The Trump administration appears determined to prove this hypothesis. .......  An alliance of liberal democracies dedicated to creating a counterweight to China in some areas, while co-operating successfully with it in others, is conceivable. But it will not happen if the US does not recreate itself as a functioning state led by a president who does not admire every authoritarian he meets. .........  Yet modern China has weak foundations, too. ........  Some people seem to believe that artificial intelligence and the reaping of vast quantities of data will allow central planning to replace the market. Nothing is less likely. The driving force of change is the ideas inside people’s heads. No one can plan for that. People need the incentives to create new and challenging things. Will today’s more oppressive Chinese state nurture that? ......... On the one side, then, we have a rising despotic superpower, but one with real frailties. On the other, we have an incumbent superpower that has lost its way. ..........   The problem is not so much Mr Trump as that so many Americans want him to lead them. The western crisis is a crisis of values. We can overcome it. But it will be hard.

Bar chart showing GDP per head at purchasing power parity in thousands of dollars in 2019 for various countries

US and China: edging towards a new type of cold war? Trust between the countries has deteriorated during the pandemic and is close to its lowest point since 1979 ........  Chinese historical figures who supported democratic ideals and helped in the 1940s to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which remains a bedrock for liberal values today. ........... Facing historic job losses and behind in the polls, US president Donald Trump has moved to blame China for his administration’s struggles in responding to coronavirus. .........  “This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this,” Mr Trump said of the pandemic this week. “It could have been stopped in China. It should have been stopped right at the source, and it wasn’t.” He has claimed that the virus came from a Wuhan lab. ........   The announcement on Thursday that trade talks between the two countries were still on track was also a reminder that the substance of superpower relations can often differ from the rhetoric. ........   While this new era of geopolitical rivalry may differ in important respects from the US-Soviet Union tensions between 1947 and 1991, irreconcilable differences in political values and strategic ambitions are eviscerating trust. .......  “The level of trust between China and the US is at its lowest point since diplomatic ties were first established in 1979” ...........    Military conflict was not likely and ties could still be repaired if wise actions were taken. “But the risk is that the boom years of globalisation will be over and we might see the global system breaking into two parts,” he says. “That would greatly slow down global growth and developing countries would have to side with one of the two camps.” .......   “The root cause [in deteriorating relations] is the fundamental difference in ideology between the US and China,” he argues. “Between 1978 and 2012, the Communist party put aside its communist roots and focused on developing economic strength. Once China succeeded economically, the CCP went back to refocus on its original intentions [of building socialism].”  .........  China’s ties with the US for most of the past 40 years have been founded on an inherently unstable equation. Each side was willing to play down ideological differences and strategic tensions in order to benefit from economic co-operation. For decades, this bargain delivered impressive commercial gains; China’s annual gross domestic product expansion has averaged just over 9 per cent since 1989, making it the prime locomotive for global growth............   the rounding up of the US spy network in China starting in 2010 ... At least 30 spies are reported to have been executed in the sweep, leaving US officials “shell shocked” by the accuracy of Chinese counter-intelligence. ............ Many in Beijing blame the tensions on the insecurities of a superpower in decline: in Washington, they fear the overconfidence of a great power on the rise. ....... total Chinese investment into the US fell to $5bn last year, down from a recent peak of $45bn in 2016, when Chinese companies were much more free to acquire US counterparts. ........  pressure from American companies — particularly in industries such as semiconductors that depend on Chinese demand — will not allow anything close to a complete “decoupling” of supply chains.  

Subi Reef in the South China Sea: Chinese president Xi Jinping told the US in 2015 that his country would not build military fortifications on man-made islands in the region. A year later, satellite photographs showed Mr Xi had lied

Late Soviet America  Like the Soviet Union in its final years, the United States is reeling from catastrophic failures of leadership and long-suppressed socioeconomic tensions that have finally boiled over. For the rest of the world, the most important development is that the hegemony of the US dollar may finally be coming to an end. ..........  the president is deeply incompetent and “stunningly uninformed.” If it wasn’t obvious already, the whole world now knows that the US lacks any strategic orientation or coherent executive leadership. ..........  like statues of Lenin during the collapse of the Soviet empire, statues of Confederate leaders are being toppled just about everywhere. ............  The Soviet Union had a large, complicated planning and resource-allocation apparatus that attracted the society’s best-educated people, only to consign them to unproductive and frequently destructive tasks. The US has Wall Street. ...........   Under President Donald Trump, America has become an international embarrassment. ....... Harold James is Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University

Fauci Live with Zuck

No comments: