I am indebted to Lisa Yuen from Vancouver for the following report of the 6 October 2020 meeting of the Quad in Tokyo attended by the four Foreign Ministers of the USA, Japan, India and Australia. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State attended the meeting to urge the remaining three countries to take the U.S. side in a confrontation with China. He failed and his address clashed with those of his host.
The former Indian ambassador M. K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Quad won’t fly:
“Above all, China has no messianic ideology to export and prefers to set a model by virtue of its performance. It is not in the business of instigating regime change in other countries, and actually gets along rather well with democracies.
China has resources, including money, to offer its partners, whereas, the US budget is in chronic deficit and even routine government operations must now be funded with debt.
That initiative same initiative will sink in Europe just as fast as the Quad initiative has sunk in Asia and for the very same reasons. China is not an ideological or military danger to Europe. It is an economic behemoth and relation with it need to be carefully handled. They require respect and talks and not sabre rattling.”
Bhadrakumar made some telling points;-
- China is not trying to spread the gospel of Communism.
- China’s model is based on just one matter – performance.
- China has no interest in bringing about regime change in any other country.
- China gets on “rather well” with the democracies.
- China has valuable aid to offer.
- The US, by comparison, offers debt
- Quad has failed in Asia.
- Quad will fail in Europe.
- China is not a military threat to Europe.
- Relations with China require respect and talks and not sabre rattling.
The US is losing. It is a declining power. Its best times are behind it but history teaches us that leading powers never know how or when to leave the stage. They cannot face failure. They hang on. They threaten and cajole and bully but gradually power and influence drains away and the country becomes shadow of its former self. This has been a given fact throughput the centuries and the present is no different.
The US will hurl insults at China and seek to bring it down – see the recent speech in Washington by National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien entitled How China Threatens American Democracy. This speech has two meanings – the US is desperate and China is on the rise. In his speech O’Brien ran up many negatives about China;-
- China is a threat to US democracy
- Chinese aggression must be confronted
- The Communist Party of China is a Marxist-Leninist party.
- President Xi Jinping is the successor to Marshal Josef Stalin
- China collects data about individual Americans
- Eg; health records, posts, texts, social security numbers, credit scores and passport numbers
- China has retaliated against Australia because it called for investigation of coronavirus
- China installs telecommunications equipment in the UN
- China leverages free speech in US.
- Chinese companies in the US are linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army
- And more of the same
This speech was a justification for Trump’s hard line policy on tariffs and trade against China which even a hard line anti-China writer, Edward Luce, admits has failed;-
“Some of his actions have clearly backfired. His trade war has done nothing to shrink the US-China deficit that he inherited.”
These are desperate times for Trump and the US, and the US is lashing out. Pompeo said in Tokyo what O’Brien said in Washington. It is the same song. It failed in Tokyo and, even with a more politically inclined audience, it will fail in Washington.
The former Indian Ambassador was right. His judgment was correct. People will not follow the US. China has no wish to become a superpower. It wants no military bases overseas or aircraft carriers carrying out military manoeuvres off San Francisco and Los Angeles. Certainly its economic achievements will command respect but not subjugation or intimidation. The best way to handle China is, first, to recognise that it is here to stay for the next one hundred years. Second, it is not going away or withdrawing into itself. Third, China’s goal is prosperity for its people in trade and business co-operation with countries who want prosperity for their own population.