GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
In February 1972 US President Nixon broke the mould of international affairs when he arrived in Beijing and shook hands first with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and then with Chairman Mao Zedong. At a stroke world, politics changed.
Remember the context. The US had held strong to its fundamentally flawed Domino Theory which asserted that if one country falls to the Communists, the rest will follow and the US would become isolated. The US drew a line in China in 1949, in Korea in 1951, and in Vietnam in 1964. The US was wrong. There was no world conspiracy to create Chinese satellite states across the world and the time was right in 1972 to bring China in from the cold.
Today 50 years on despite the Trump initiated trade war against China, the two-way US-China trade amounts annually to more than $600 billion. The hope of Washington under successive Presidents – Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George Bush, Clinton, George H Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden – has been that the US would be able to bend China to their will. It has not happened and only now is the World beginning to understand that China is in charge of its future.
The widespread assumption was that more contact, more business and more prosperity would bring about a change in the dynamic of Chinese politics. A growing class of billionaire entrepreneurs would acquire increasing economic rights in China. These rights would lead, inevitably, to the growth of political rights and the installation of a Western democratic system of government that would bring about the marginalisation of the Communist Party of China and its eventual demise.
It has not turned out that way. Washington got it wrong. The Party proved itself to be resilient, determined and capable of “Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. Western strategists have had to think again. But they are in uncharted waters. They have never been here before. China is clear about its path but the West is confused and uncertain. What to do? Which way to go?
TOMORROW – 15 FEBRUARY 2022
THE CHINA CHOICES FACING THE WEST