American Wonder, Chinese Magic
By Dr. Chidi Amuta
The architecture of a new world order may just be sketching its untidy outlines. Today’s axis of strategic equilibrium is a deformed triangle with two and half sides. The two sides are the United States versus China with a supporting undefined half role for Vladimir Putin’s neo-Tsarist Russia. But by far the more consequential axis of relevant engagement or even possible confrontation is the Washington-Beijing axis. The original episodes of sporadic friction between the United States and China over trade could have been passed off as an offshoot of Donald Trump’s bullish economic nationalism. But lately, matters have spilled over into the treacherous territory of conflicting claims of national security infringements by both sides. This is where diplomatic showmanship ends and toying with unintended strategic accidents begins.
Perhaps it is fortuitous that less than 100 days to the US presidential election, relations between the two major contending global powers is assuming a more gritty texture. From frequent squabbles over trade and tariffs, the rhetoric of rivalry has included conspiracy theories over the origins and itinerary of the corona virus as well as the politics and international economic implications of its spread. Only last week, the unease degenerated into reciprocal diplomatic bad behavior and even outright nastiness.
The US shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas and sent the diplomats there packing home. In a toned down disproportionate reciprocity, the Chinese closed the US Consulate in the south western city of Chengdu. Given the very temperamental disposition of today’s White House, the possibility that there will be more drama in relations in the days ahead can be expected.
The ramping up of tension between Washington and Beijing falls squarely into the predictable diplomatic habit of the United States. American foreign policy and domestic politics always need an external adversary to animate them and conveniently divert attention from serious worries at home. When there is no enemy in the horizon, Washington creates or simulates one. It is a rare stretch in American history when there is no adversary. It could be Chile under Salvador Allende or Libya under Muamar Ghaddafi. It could even be Manuel Noriega’s Panama or Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela.
The real underlying unease of the current situation is the possibility that for the first time in history, the outcome in two consecutive US presidential elections could be determined not by the power of American voters but possibly by the machinations and meddling of contending powers, namely, Russia (in 2016) and perhaps China (in 2020). Unlike in the Cold War years when Soviet subversion of US power took the shape of direct arms competition and ideological disinformation, the target today is the bedrock of America’s global credibility: its democratic foundation as embodied in the electoral process whose highest point is the election of the US president. The new instrument of choice is ironically information technology and cyber espionage, an area where the US ought to be the undisputed global leader.
However, unease about the possibility of Chinese meddling in the forthcoming US presidential elections may be far fetched and could miss the point. It does not capture the entirety of what is at stake between Beijing and Washington. In many ways, Mr. Trump has merely put the inevitable confrontation with China on fast forward. Whether we like it or not, a face-off between the two powers remains permanently inevitable. The only way that the US can maintain its present hegemony is by sabotaging China’s economy or distracting China diplomatically just to frustrate or delay China’s imminent prevalence.
Correspondingly, China’s road to global pre-eminence can only lead through rapid economic ascendancy and constantly feeding off America’s known vulnerabilities, namely, its appetite for credit driven consumerism and new found incremental retraction from the global stage. In every sense, then, both powers are feeding off each other’s present vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
The United States is busy with a public health pandemic with equally apocalyptic economic consequences. It has had added to its plate a far reaching social and historical civil unrest. Fired by Trumpian divisiveness, America’s long standing and systemic anti black racism has returned to haunt it. All these are happening hot in an election year in which America’s first populist demagogue and elected autocrat is seeking re-election. Modern democracy has never faced a more grave existential test and threat in its best exhibition place.
For China, this may indeed be the season of the ‘good cat’. As the late Deng Xiaoping, author of China’s liberalization and opening up once remarked: ‘It doesn’t matter if it is a white cat or a black cat. As long as it catches mice, it is a good cat.” Therefore, while the United States is busy with its major existential complications, China has literally gobbled the hitherto autonomous province of Hong Kong after 22 years of semi autonomy and relative freedom.
A draconian national security legislation has been drafted overnight and decreed into effect from behind closed doors to make Hong Kong a legal part of mainland China’s communist dictatorship. A new regime of restrictive laws against free speech and assembly have been pushed into effect, making misdemeanors like riding a motor bike with signs that demand freedom for Hong Kong residents violations of national security. Those who breach the new legislation are likely to be repatriated to mainland China to be tried and viciously punished.
In similar vein, Chinese troops have exchanged fire with Indian troops at their common border for the first time, ending 42 years of uneasy peace and diplomatic skirmishes on a testy border relationship. While America is busy, China has once again been flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea and frightening its Asian neighbours in what is clearly a neighbourhood scaremongering exercise. Similarly, Chinese authorities have tightened their repressive tactics around the ethnic Yuguirs whose freedoms are being curtailed through a less than transparent forced encampment policy. Clearly, China has defined its sphere of influence and signaled its global aspirations. It has the money, the demographic gravity and apparently a clearly defined foreign policy strategy to step into the yawning gap being created by America’s newfound isolationism and retreat into bullish nationalism.
Prior to the current quagmire of health and economic pandemics in the United States, Donald Trump had embarked on a programme of serial dismantling of the post -World War II global order and its architecture of multilateralism and global co-operation on major challenges. He had taken the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, the World Trade Organisation and very lately the World Health Organisation. He had similarly thrashed the Iran Nuclear agreement as well as major trade agreements. Even in the midst of the pandemic, he is threatening to reduce or totally withdraw US troops stationed in Germany and parts of Europe since the end of the Second World War.
Similarly, US support for NATO has been reduced to a transactional equation in which some book keepers at NATO headquarters tally the contributions of individual nations and decide on who is falling short on contributions. No one can say how this will affect Article 5 in the event of an armed attack on any NATO member. In the process, the original trans-Atlantic alliance on which the security of Europe and the West has been hinged for the past 75 years has been exposed to the idiosyncracies of individual national leaders.
It is shocking that in dismantling the subsisting liberal international order, it did not occur to Mr. Trump and his inchoate ideological handlers in the White House that other ambitious aspirants to global power pre-eminence would be waiting to fill the vacuum thus created. It is an elementary law of big power supremacy politics that no hegemonic power voluntarily goes into self remission. Secondly, when a pre-eminent power declines as a result of its own internal contradictions, it leaves a vacuum which is quickly filled by other rival powers.
China ,which is the supreme contender for global pre-eminence to the United States, has seen in America’s present challenges a further opportunity to push its advantages and accelerate its advancement. Prior to the current covid-19 and other convulsions in the United States, China would appear to have designed a policy that steps in wherever America misses its steps. Chinese official support for Huawei, the leading manufacturer of 5G equipment, has continued to unsettle the United States. Even as recently as the United States decision to pull out of the World Health Organisation, China was on hand to fill the vacuum. Total US annual financial commitment to the WHO is estimated at about 1 billion dollars. Bill Gates alone supports WHO with $500 million annually. The Chinese have stepped in with a pledge of $2 billion in support for the WHO over another 2 years, thereby cushioning the effect of the US withdrawal. The rest is history.
The jury is still out on whether the onset of the corona virus pandemic in China was an accident, a natural development or an act of programmed biotechnology warfare designed to advance China’s economic advantages. While the corona pandemic is still raging everywhere else, China has largely got the virus under control except for occasional negligible outbreaks here and there. In the meantime, it has secured tremendous economic advantages as the leading global manufacturers and exporter of testing kits, respirators, ventilators, medical protection gear, reagents, therapeutic drugs and possibly a vaccine.
The confrontation between Washington and Beijing has more far reaching implications and meanings. Clearly, the authoritarian communists have proved more efficient managers of the Covid-19 emergency irrespective of where the virus originated from. It would appear that the regime of stiff controls enabled the Chinese to quickly lock down and isolate affected provinces. They deployed an army of contact tracers and most significantly, deployed their new found technological advantage in developing apps that use the footprints of individual cell phones to trace persons who may have been infected or who have visited locations of likely infections. They erected hospitals overnight, mass produced personal protection equipment, deployed a combination of western and Chinese therapeutics and generally regimented the virus into remission and retreat in the shortest possible time.
What is more remarkable is that the Chinese have been able to convert the adversity of this pandemic into an economic advantage. As first movers in the technology of testing, protection gear and basic therapeutic products, the Chinese have received the largest orders from governments around the world for covid related imports. At the height of the covid crisis in Europe, the Swiss government ordered supplies worth $500 million from China. Similarly, Jack Mar, the Chinese founder of Alibaba ordered in excess of 2 million sets of personal protection gear and ventilators from Chinese firms for shipment as gifts to different African countries in aid of their Covid-19 emergency efforts.
As it were, then, both China’s authoritarian political system and state dominated capitalism would seem to have fared much better than western democracy and private equity dominated capitalism especially in the United States in dealing with this virus. No amount of propaganda can disguise this fact especially with the continued bungling of the corona virus challenge by the United States administration.
The Covid-19 emergency may have provided an opportunity to place the confrontation between China and the United States in bold ideological relief. But it does not of course exhaust the strategic contests at play. Prior to the Covid-19 challenge, the Chinese penetration of the global landscape had been systematic and apparently programmed. China has provided infrastructure loans to African countries at concessionary rates. These loans have often come with Chinese expertise and loads of manpower. Chinese lenders have avoided the usual conditionalities that imprisoned African economies in debts that were difficult to service or pay. In many cases, the Chinese have steered clear of meddling in the internal affairs of countries where they do business except in selling arms to the side that must, in their estimation, win in a conflict situation.
For us in Nigeria, the frost between Beijing and Washington has only tangential diplomatic implications but vastly consequential economic import. With massive Chinese infrastructure loans to fund our rail and airport modernization programmes, Nigeria will become increasingly tethered to the global economic stranglehold of an ambitious China. We already owe China an estimated $80 billion in various categories of loans and concession arrangements. Already, China’s competitive advantages have made it the most attractive destination for Nigeria’s small to medium scale business travellers and new contracts.
Even after Donald Trump, it is unlikely that the United States will ever regain a priority of place as either a source of international finance outside the Bretton Woods circuit or of direct bilateral assistance. Its position as a strategic ally will last for the remaining short tenure of fossil fuels as a global energy source. Clearly then, the future of our national interest is best served by the prospects of an expanding China than a retreating United States. It is a choice between two hegemonies, one declining and the other ascendant.
Barring an accident of tragic bad judgment by either side between now and November, relations between China and the United States will survive the US presidential election. This assurance derives from the sheer quantum of money at stake in that relationship. Curiously, China’s long term interest is better served by a Donald Trump continuation in the White House. The more America pulls back from the world, through isolationism and nationalism, the more space there is for China to fill the abandoned space.
The reversal of the nationalist trend by a Democrat victory will restore some of the threatened global liberal order, bring back some of America’s global involvements and thus stall China’s expansionist roller coaster ride. For China, then, Donald Trump may be a short term economic irritation but he is a long term strategic asset. For the United States, on the other hand, China may provide immediate campaign season distraction in a season of domestic catastrophe but still remains a formidable economic partner.
The present drama between the two super powers is only a dance of competing jealous lovers on the world stage. The real strategic engagement lies several decades ahead, when China is fully ready both diplomatically and militarily.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?
Domestic violence is a violence or other abuse in a marriage.
Domestic violence could involve any body but I’m looking at it in a family setting between a man and his wife.
Domestic violence includes
- Physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religion reproductive and sexual abuse.
Many people are going through a lot in marriages today, some Christan homes inclusive. This has caused a lot of harms in homes, churches and the society at large. So many women have lost their lives in the process,men inclusive but women are mostly at the receiving end. And they endure mostly even to the point of loosing their lives. This they do because of:
- The love they have for their spouse
- Because of their children
- What the society will say about them
- Because of their faith and religion.
Please when beating and sexual molestation becomes the case in your home, there’s need for separation.
Now in as much as the Bible frowns at divorce, I don’t think it’ll be reasonable for one to remain in an abusive marriage where his/her life is a stake. The same children you think about will still be maltreated, neglected and will be forced to face horrible situations the moment you are gone. The same society you are thinking of what they will say will still blame you for not speaking out on time. Your making heaven is even very slim because I don’t think your heart is clean in that condition. Your bad thoughts, unforgiveness and bitterness is enough to send you to hell. And instead of you to commit murder, I think you should separate if that’s the only option left.
Many women are going through alot. When a domestic violence involves life threatening abuses, there’s need for you to seek for help.
Many women have died in this process. Pls being born again doesn’t mean your brain should be suspended. Yes divorce is a sin but you shouldn’t die either because you are married. You are being asked to keep praying often times, yes but you could do that also while away. Many women are dying silently. Women please speak out in such conditions, don’t keep quiet. Make sure the problem is not from you. Make sure you are not the cause of it.
I have seen a woman beating blue black by her husband. Not once not twice. Infact the man always use cane,belt etc on her. And she’s asked to keep praying. What if she die one day? What if she couldn’t take it any longer and tries to defend herself and kill her partner in the process, what will be her lot?
Women should take the necessary steps the moment they see that things are getting out of hand.
Try to see how you could save the situation by involving your spiritual leaders, your both families,the people your partner respects so much and if there’s no changes please take a break while you pray and take the necessary steps to save your marriage.
Pls note that your being away is for the mean time. Even while away you are to remain and keep your body. It’s not a time to go about messing up. If you do that you are commenting sin. You are to maintain sexual purity. Even when your partner is doing otherwise. The only time remarriage is possible is when one partner is dead. See Romans 7:2,1cor.7:39.
Neighbors should as well look out for their fellow women/men. Please speak out for them. Some of them are in a tight corner and can’t help themselves.
Stay tuned for the next post on this same topic!
Say no to domestic violence.
What’s your take on this? Share your opinion.
Will you allow your daughter, sister, brother,son go through domestic violence?
What will you have them do;the abused?
By Chika Helen Nwabueze’
LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD
LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD
By Oladimeji Ramon
A group, the Federal Social Democrats, says the credibility and integrity of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have been diminished by the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.
According to the group, the Lekki incident has eroded the admiration that Sanwo-Olu won with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group, in statement on Sunday signed on its behalf by Olutola Mobolurin, also condemned the harassment of #EndSARS protest leaders through the freezing of their bank accounts and stopping them from travelling outside the country.
The FSD’s statement was titled, ‘Statement by the Federal Social Democrats On the #EndSARS Movement and Violence in the Wake of Lekki Shootings.’
The group said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and youths; his credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.”
Though the group condemned the destruction of public assets and looting that trailed the shootings at the Lekki tollgate, it said the mayhem pointed to the alienation of a large number of youths from society by government.
It said, “The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterised governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long-term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies.
“Some of the ‘hoodlums’ responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and ‘the toughies’ that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections.”
The group said the organisers of the #EndSARS protests deserved commendation for the resourcefulness, transparency and accountability which they demonstrated.
The group condemned “the growing reports of compilation of names of the assumed leaders and facilitators of the protests for government reprisals.”
It said, “Those that are being targeted are reportedly being prevented from travelling outside Nigeria while accounts of some have been frozen. This is hardly the hallmark of a democratic government that is interested in dialoguing with the youths or learning positive lessons from the #EndSARS protests. It is also a violation of the spirit of government’s acceptance of the 5 for 5 agenda. The President should stop all these acts of witch-hunt.”
The FSD solicited support for the Lagos State Government to rebuild and replace the vandalised public assets.
APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED
APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED
• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday
By Richard Partington
The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.
The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.
Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.
The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.
Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.
Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.
The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.
The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.
It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”