Two weeks ago I discussed the baby steps that China and Russia are taking toward creating an alternative financial infrastructure to the SWIFT Network and the Washington Consensus (read: Wall Street Consensus). The steps may be small, but they’re all going in the same direction: away from a US/NATO-led world order and toward a world where there is a China/Russia-led alternative.The latest example of this Chinese-led world order will be on display in Beijing in mid-May, when heads of state from 28 different nations convene the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The forum comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity between China and a bevy of countries along China’s proposed trillion-dollar “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “Maritime Silk Road” known as the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI).
This diplomatic activity, much of which has been making headlines in recent weeks, includes:
- A pledge to deepen cooperation between Greece and China as part of the BRI.
- A commitment to strengthen ties between Egypt and China under the BRI framework.
- An offer to involve India in the BRI, starting with the BRI forum in Beijing next month.
- An agreement between Russia and China to “conjugate” their relationship in the BRI and in the Eurasian Economic Union.
- And even, incredibly, an invitation for the US to join the “symphony” of the BRI and the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
And that’s just the headlines from April. You may not know it if you’re only consuming #fakenews from the western MSM propaganda outlets, but the American-led world order of the post-WWII era is being severely tested right now.
So it looks like freedom is on the march and the globalists are on the run. Right, gang? We’ve got this globalism thing licked! Bye-bye, American Empire and hello, peace, cooperation and stability!
…If only. Sadly, as I stressed last month, these new initiatives aren’t really steps away from globalism, they’re just steps toward the creation of a different global order. Globalization 2.0, if you will.
But don’t take my word for it. “Globalization 2.0” is exactly what the Chinese government is calling it. Meet the new globalization, only cosmetically different from the old globalization.
In its recent article on “China’s Belt and Road Initiative ushers in ‘Globalization 2.0’,” the (Communist Party mouthpiece) People’s Daily contrasts the post-WWII, American-led “Globalization 1.0” of “aggressive” economic growth and “imbalanced development” with the balanced, inclusive growth of the beloved Chinese Communist Party’s Belt and Road Initiative. The article quotes “renowned Chinese experts” from the (Communist Party-run) Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who make the case for the government’s proposed globalization reboot with all the patriotic fervor of an academic with a gun barrel pressed to his temple:
According to Zhang Yunling, director of the academic division of International Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), humanity entered the era of “Globalization 1.0” after World War II, focusing on connecting the world via multilateral and regional cooperation. Prior to 2008, Globalization 1.0 has indeed promoted rapid economic growth, but the anti-globalization trend is always waiting, ready to strike, as imbalanced development between regions and communities is inevitable, Zhang noted.
The Belt and Road Initiative, on the other hand, offers a distinctly Chinese way of looking at global governance and cooperation.
“The versions of globalization led by the East and the West are different. The West tends to be more aggressive, while the East emphasizes inclusiveness. That makes homogeneity one of the key factors in cooperation, but we are trying to show that heterogeneity does not necessarily get in the way of cooperation,” said Ren Jingjing, another expert with CASS.
Nor is this “Globalization 2.0” meme a mere one-off by an underpaid, overworked ChiCom propaganda writer.
“AIIB is recharging globalisation,” blares a China Daily headline.
The BRI “helps to usher in a new era of globalisation” explains a draft communique for the BRI Forum.
“Will China Assume the Leadership of Globalization?” asks the Foreign Policy Journal.
Are you beginning to get the picture?
The Chinese government is, naturally enough, framing this globalization reboot as a flowering of peace, cooperation and development with its Eurasian partners…and, hey, look at that, there’s a bit of economic benefit in there for China, as well! Who would have thunk it?
The cynic might subtly suggest that, in fact, the entire BRI is about economic benefit, namely securing access to important foreign markets along major global trade routes for China’s export-dependent economy. After all, a project like the construction of a $1.3 billion dollar railway from Khartoum to Port Sudan, financed by Chinese “development aid” through export credits, is at least as valuable to the Chinese government—which is looking to get oil from the interior of Africa out to a port where it can be shipped back to China—as it is to the people of Sudan. And the Chinese get a way to put their enormous foreign reserves—built up over decades of huge trade surpluses—to better use than by buying up US Treasuries.
The Chinese hail these self-serving aid projects as paragons of “win-win cooperation,” but perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it’s “win-win-win cooperation,” with the first two wins being China’s and the third, smaller “win” falling to the recipient country (like crumbs from the master’s table falling on the dog).
But even that cynical view of China’s globalization spree isn’t quite cynical enough.
As the Indian Economic Times points out, there are aspects of the BRI that simply do not make sense from a purely economic point of view. Like the proposed $62-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is an umbrella for a number of infrastructure investments that China is making in Pakistan, from transportation network construction to energy projects to the development of special economic zones. But, as the Times notes in a recent editorial on the project: “Even Pakistani analysts have questioned its economics.”
So what is the CPEC really about?
“Responding to Indian concerns about the CPEC passing through territory that is still legally India’s — Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Aksai Chin — Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi recently said that the CPEC was an economic project for the ‘purpose of serving economic cooperation and development. It has no direct link with political and boundary dispute.’ Wang then dangled a carrot, stating, ‘Obor is for common development of all participants. So, we welcome India to take active part in building the Obor.’”
Or, to translate from the diplomatic doublespeak: “This project totally isn’t about politics, boundary disputes or geopolitics…but we’ll let you in on it if you settle your boundary disputes!”
In other words, China is putting itself in the driver’s seat of India-Pakistan rapprochement through its infrastructure investment in both countries. The strategy becomes even more evident when India and Pakistan’s pending accession to the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization is taken into consideration. China is using its economic might to build geopolitical clout, and at the same time reshaping Eurasia in its own image.
The signs of this strategy are everywhere, but they’re buried deep behind the headlines of stories about China’s growing bilateral and multilateral trading relationships. And even those headlines aren’t being reported in the western mainstream press (surprise, surprise).
Like this story about Iran’s relationship with China. As part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program, the P5+1 countries stipulated that Iran must redesign its Arak heavy water research reactor to minimize plutonium production. Annex 1 of the JCPOA begins by addressing Arak and stipulating that it is repurposed for “peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, including testing of fuel pins and assembly prototypes and structural materials.”
So guess who is taking the lead in overseeing this work? If you guessed China, then give yourself a check mark. It has just reached an initial agreement with Iran on the commercial contract for the reactor redesign. “China will do the follow-up work with all parties involved in accordance with the comprehensive nuclear deal and the consensus reached by all parties,” Chinese spokesman Lu Kang gloated at a press conference announcing the deal.
Oh, and hey, look at this headline from three days after news of the agreement broke: “China, Iran agree to promote Belt and Road cooperation.” Gee, I wonder if there’s any connection here?
Once again, China is using its economic carrot to steer geopolitical events.
For those of you who are still thinking that anything is better than the American-led globalization of the last 50 years, I have some bad news. As I’ve pointed out many, many times in numerous reports over the last few years, it is the same cabal of globalists who created the current mess that is shepherding China’s rise and the creation of the Chinese-led “globalization 2.0.” Although I’ve provided numerous examples of this in the above-linked reports, one only has to look at the latest headlines to find yet another example of this false dialectic at work:
Meet the new globalization, same as the old globalization.
The only thing left to say is that the false choice between the Chinese-led world order and the American-led world order are not the only options on the table. It is still possible for free humanity to withdraw its participation from the statist systems of control (economic, financial, monetary, political, commercial and social) that under gird this system of regional competition for global dominance. But if this is a race to the finish line, then free humanity is far behind and time is running out.