After World War II, military tensions escalated between the United Sates and the Western Bloc, and powers in the alliance of the Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union and later joined by China. This conflict brought the world close to a nuclear war, but fortunately ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991. However Covid-19 has open Pandora’s Box and we face a new cold war.
China has always aspired to be a world leader. After the Mao years the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted a different strategy and opened its economy, while keeping a very strong hand on the political ideology and autocracy. The western world believed that opening trade with China would allow the regime to soften its stance and allow political freedom. Far from being the case China has now reached the point of being the next protagonist in a new Cold War.
In the late nineties China was still considered as ‘a developing country’ by the World Trade Organization (WTO). This status gave China several trade exemptions and also funding from western countries including Canada. For years China has used these privileges to bolster its coffers. Western countries used China’s massive cheap workforce to produce many goods. To the extent that China became the major supplier of many manufacturing products, including pharmaceuticals. The rest of the industrialized world concerned themselves with climate change, and transferred many of their manufacturing activities to China to alleviate themselves of their so-called carbon foot print. These decisions caused unintended consequences, including massive trade deficits and large debts resulting in the U.S. owing $1.09 trillion to China.
An autocratic Chinese government put this new found wealth to endear themselves in Africa and other developing countries. Gaining footholds in these countries and exploiting their natural resources. China also started funding international organizations and gained their confidence. In addition they build their military budget and have now the third if not second largest military force in the world. While the Obama administration was appeasing the Middle East and Iran, China was building artificial islands in the China Sea expanding its reach into international waters.
Covid-19 the virus which has gripped the entire world in a pandemic, whether it was manufactured or came from a wet market originated in Wuhan, China. There are conspiracy theories about the Chinese handling of the virus; Germany's Der Spiegel published the allegations, citing intelligence from the country's Federal Intelligence Service, known as the 'Bundesnachrichtendienst' (BND). According to the BND: 'On January 21, China's leader Xi Jinping asked WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to hold back information about a human-to-human transmission and to delay a pandemic warning. It is also reported that China cornered the market for surgical masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), while selling defective baldy needed equipment to the rest of the world .The devastating aftermath of the pandemic will still have to be measured in months to come. From and economic point of view the damage will be enormous. I believe that 20% of businesses will never again operate the same way. While up to 25% of the workforce may have to find employ in alternative and new jobs.
Hate or love President Donald Trump, in retrospect his stance against China has been correct. While I still do not like tariffs, Trump was able to get new trade deals through the imposition of tariffs against Chinese goods. I also believe, may be wrongly, that Covid-19 and its handling by the Chinese government may have been retaliation against Trump for winning concessions on trade. China has been waging a silent cold war against the Western world for quite some time, but politicians have been blind to this subterfuge. The handling of many of the world’s problems through organizations like the United Nations, where China has a veto has in fact made things worse. The Chinese philosophy is based on long term strategy and they have waited until now when their leader Xi Jinping, has been able to garner supreme leader status to flex their muscle.
The real problem is: what are Western Nations going to do about the rise of China? Unfortunately, despite the clear indication of China’s strategy to supplant the U.S as leader of the world, the hate for Trump is going to prevent a strong response. Take Canada for example; Trudeau who suffers from a huge inferiority complex vis-a-vis the U.S. more specifically Trump, is actually funding China and the WHO. His obsession with getting a seat on the U.N Security Council, where he believes he will have more power, blinds him from the geopolitical realities that face us.
The global economic damage caused by Covid-19 should not be used to promote socialist and environmental agendas, which in some form got us to where we are today. In fact it should be used to reform many of our global institutions and the way that we trade with each other. We can no longer rely on one major supplier in the supply chain. We must bring back certain industries from China, and use other friendlier sources like South Korea and India. The costs incurred could be easily recouped by Trump refusing to repay part of the debt owed to China. Is it legal for Trump to do so? I don’t know, but what is really important is for the U.S and its NATO allies, Australia, New Zealand, Japan as well as developing nations like India and South Korea to work together against China and its ally Russia, in a new Cold War that will not be restricted to earth but extend into space.