The Russia-China vote

The Russia-China vote

November 03, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and cross-posted with Asia Times

Whatever the geopolitical and geoeconomic consequences of the spectacular US dystopia, the Russia-China strategic partnership, in their own slightly different registers, have already voted on their path forward.

Here is how I framed what is at the heart of the Chinese 2021-2025 five-year plan approved at the plenum in Beijing last week.

Here is a standard Chinese think tank interpretation.

And here is some especially pertinent context examining how rampant Sinophobia is impotent when faced with an extremely efficient made in China model of governance. This study shows how China’s complex history, culture, and civilizational axioms simply cannot fit into the Western, Christian hegemonic worldview.

The not so hidden “secret” of China’s 2021-2025 five-year plan – which the Global Times described as “economic self-reliance” – is to base the civilization-state’s increasing geopolitical clout on technological breakthroughs.

Crucially, China is on a “self-driven” path – depending on little to no foreign input. Even a clear – “pragmatic” – horizon has been set: 2035, halfway between now and 2049. By this time China should be on a par or even surpassing the US in geopolitical, geoeconomic and techno power.

That is the rationale behind the Chinese leadership actively studying the convergence of quantum physics and information sciences – which is regarded as the backbone of the Made in China push towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The five-year plan makes it quite clear that the two key vectors are AI and robotics – where Chinese research is already quite advanced. Innovations in these fields will yield a matrix of applications in every area from transportation to medicine, not to mention weaponry.

Huawei is essential in this ongoing process, as it’s not a mere data behemoth, but a hardware provider, creating platforms and the physical infrastructure for a slew of companies to develop their own versions of smart cities, safe cities – or medicines.

Big Capital – from East and West – is very much in tune with where all of this is going, a process that also implicates the core hubs of the New Silk Roads. In tune with the 21st century “land of opportunity” script, Big Capital will increasingly move towards East Asia, China and these New Silk hubs.

This new geoeconomic matrix will mostly rely on spin offs of the Made in China 2025 strategy. A clear choice will be presented for most of the planet: “win win” or “zero sum”.

The failures of neoliberalism

After observing the mighty clash, enhanced by Covid-19, between the neoliberal paradigm and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the Global South is only beginning to draw the necessary conclusions.

No Western propaganda tsunami can favorably spin what is in effect a devastating, one-two, ideological collapse.

Neoliberalism’s abject failure in dealing with Covid-19 is manifestly evident all across the West.

The US election dystopia is now sealing the abject failure of Western liberal “democracy”: what kind of “choice” is offered by Trump-Biden?

This is happening just as the ultra-efficient, relentlessly demonized “Chinese Communist Party” rolls out the road map for the next five years. Washington cannot even plan what happens the day ahead.

Trump’s original drive, suggested by Henry Kissinger before the January 2017 inauguration, was to play – what else – Divide and Rule, seducing Russia against China.

This was absolute anathema for the Deep State and its Dem minions. Thus the subsequent, relentless demonization of Trump – with Russiagate topping the charts. And then Trump unilaterally chose to sanction and demonize China anyway.

Assuming a Dem victory, the scenario will veer towards Russia demonization on steroids even as hysterical Hybrid War on China will persist on all fronts – Uighurs, Tibet, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan.

Now compare all of the above with the Russian road map.

That was clearly stated in crucial interventions by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Putin at the recent Valdai Club discussions.

Putin has made a key assertion on the role of Capital, stressing the necessity of “abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favor of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.”

Putin once again stressed the importance of the role of the state: “The state is a necessary fixture, there is no way […] could do without state support.”

And, in concert with the endless Chinese experimentation, he added that in fact there are no economic rules set in stone: “No model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that.”

Pragmatic Putin defined how to regulate the role of the state as “a form of art”.

And he offered as an example, “keeping inflation up by a bit will make it easier for Russian consumers and companies to pay back their loans. It is economically healthier than the deflationary policies of western societies.”

As a direct consequence of Putin’s pragmatic policies – which include wide-ranging social programs and vast national projects – the West ignores that Russia may well be on the way to overtake Germany as the fifth largest economy in the world.

The bottom line is that combined, the Russia-China strategic partnership is offering, especially to the Global South, two radically different approaches to the standard Western neoliberal dogma. And that, for the whole US establishment, is anathema.

So whatever the result of the Trump-Biden “choice”, the clash between the Hegemon and the Top Two Sovereigns is only bound to become more incandescent.

Can You Smell What the Chinese Are Cooking?

ZENITH NEWS -Can You Smell What the Chinese Are Cooking?

Pepe Escobar

Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist

October 30, 2020©

Less than a week before the game-changing U.S. presidential election, the real heart of the geopolitical and geoeconomic action is virtually invisible to the outside world.

We’re talking about the fifth plenum of the 19th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, which started this past Monday in Beijing.

The plenum congregates the 200 members – and another 100 alternate members – of the civilization-state’s top decision-making body: the equivalent, in Western liberal democracy terms, of the Chinese Congress.

The outline of what will be the 14th Chinese Five-Year-Plan (2021-2025) will be announced with a communiqué at the end of the plenum this Thursday. Policy details will be streaming in the next few weeks. And everything will be formally approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2021.

For all practical purposes, this should be regarded as what China’s leadership is really thinking.

Meet “China’s system”

President Xi has been quite busy, delivering an extensive work report; a draft of the five-year plan; and a full outline of China’s top targets all the way to 2035.

Xi has been forcefully stressing a “dual circulation” strategy for China; to increase the focus on the domestic economy while balancing it with foreign trade and investment.

Actually a better definition, translated from Mandarin, is “double development dynamics”. In Xi’s own words, the aim is to “facilitate better connectivity between domestic and foreign markets for more resilient and sustainable growth”.

One spectacular achievement we already know about is that Xi’s goal for China to reach the status of a “moderately prosperous society” has been met in 2020, even under Covid-19. Extreme poverty has been eliminated.

The next step is to deal long-term with the absolutely critical issues of crisis of global trade; less demand for Chinese products; and varying degrees of volatility caused by the unstoppable rise of China.

The key priority for Beijing is the domestic economy – in tandem with reaching key tech targets to enhance China’s high-quality development. That implies building high-end, integrated supply chains. And then there’s the tortuous road of implementing necessary institutional reforms.

Crucially, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is “guiding” companies to invest in core technology; that means semiconductors, 5G applications, the Internet of Things (IoT), integrated circuits, biomedicine.

So everything is, once again, all about the Chip War – which is at the heart of AI, 5G, supercomputing, quantum computing, material science, biotechnology, new energy vehicles and space science.

China’s leadership is very much aware that the real high stakes revolve around the next generation of chip technology.

Enter the concept of China’s system: or how to fight the “U.S.-initiated cold war in high technology”.

“China’s system” has been developed by IT expert Ni Guangnan. It aims to “replace U.S. technologies in core areas including the key IT infrastructure, in which the U.S.-led IOE system, an acronym for an IT network based on major three supplies – IBM, Intel and Oracle – have the monopoly. With self-developed servers, database and storage, the system could be based on chipsets with lower performance with no need for 14-nanometer (nm) or 7-nanometer chip fabrication – prime targets of the U.S.-led crackdown.”

Various calculations in China roughly agree that by the end of this year the economy is set to be 72% the size of the U.S.’s. The State Council forecasts that the Chinese economy will overtake the EU in 2027 and the U.S. by 2032.

But if measured by PPP (purchasing power parity), as both the IMF and The Economist have already admitted, China is already the world’s largest economy.

The fifth plenum once again reiterates all the goals inbuilt in Made in China 2025. But there’s more: an emphasis on the “2035 vision” – when China should be positioned as a global tech leader.

The “2035 Vision” concerns the halfway point between where we are now and the ultimate target in 2049. By 2035 China should be a fully modernized, socialist nation and a superpower especially in science and technology and Defense.

Xi had already stressed it way back in 2017: China will “basically” realize “socialist modernization” by 2035. To get there, the Politburo is seeking an extremely ambitious synthesis of “scale, speed, quality, efficiency and safety”.

Beyond Westphalia

Considering that the Trump administration has been engaged on a relentless offensive since May 2018, it was only since last July that the CCP leadership has been consistently preparing China for what it considers a lengthy and fierce struggle with the U.S.

That has elicited quite a few comparisons with what the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping referred about Mao Zedong in 1938. Mao at the time said that China should “be on the defensive first before gathering enough strength to fight to a strategic stand-off and eventually win the ‘protracted war’” against the Japanese invasion.

Now we have a weiqi strategy all over again. Beijing will only launch what amounts to a concerted counterpunch across the chessboard when it’s able to close the tech gap and establish its own domestic and global supply chains completely independent from the U.S.

Beijing will need a major soft power P.R. operation to show the world how its drive in science and technology is aimed as a global good, with all humanity benefiting, irrespective of nations. The Chinese Covid-19 vaccine should be setting the example.

In a recent podcast discussing one of my latest columns on Lanxin Xiang’s book The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics,

Brazilian China expert Elias Jabbour came up with a stunning formulation.

Jabbour echoed top Chinese scholars when he stressed China won’t behave as an aggressive Westphalian state: “The subversion of Westphalia by China came from the fact it incorporated the Russian Revolution to 1949. China is laying out for the future an order that may subvert Westphalia.”

So what we have here is that the foremost concept of Xi’s China – whose best English translation reads as “community with a shared future for humanity” – is actually the subversion of Westphalia. A subversion from within.

Jabbour reminds us that when Mao said that only socialism may save China, he meant save it from the treaty of Westphalia, which facilitated the dismemberment of China during the “century of humiliation.”

So in the end a strategic marriage between Marx and Confucius in Xi’s China is more than feasible, transcending geopolitics as we know it, which was born as a national ideology in France, Germany and Britain.

It’s as if Xi was trying, as Jabbour noted, to “go back to original Marxism as a leftist Hegelianism”, geared towards internationalism, and mixing it with the Confucius view of tianxa, “all under heaven”. That’s the master idea behind “community with a shared future for humanity.”

One can always dream that another world is indeed possible: think of a cultural renaissance of the overwhelming majority of the Global South, with a fruitful cross-fertilization of China and Asian economies, the evolving decolonization struggle of Latin America, and the weight of the African diaspora.

But first, the next Chinese five-year plan has got to roll.

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