Summary: US borrows trillions to wage war in foreign lands. China helps build other nations’ transportation infrastructure to connect them for mutual trade. Which program will work better? Their secret advantage over America is seen in every day’s news headlines.
This is how great nations rise, reported by the NYT: “Behind China’s $1 Trillion Plan to Shake Up the Economic Order” by Jane Perlez and Yufan Huangay. Excerpt…
“Chinese engineers are drilling hundreds of tunnels and bridges to support a 260-mile railway, a $6 billion project that will eventually connect eight Asian countries. Chinese money is building power plants in Pakistan to address chronic electricity shortages, part of an expected $46 billion worth of investment. Chinese planners are mapping out train lines from Budapest to Belgrade, Serbia, providing another artery for Chinese goods flowing into Europe through a Chinese-owned port in Greece.
“The massive infrastructure projects, along with hundreds of others across Asia, Africa and Europe, form the backbone of China’s ambitious economic and geopolitical agenda. President Xi Jinping of China is literally and figuratively forging ties, creating new markets for the country’s construction companies and exporting its model of state-led development in a quest to create deep economic connections and strong diplomatic relationships.
“The initiative, called ‘One Belt, One Road’ looms on a scope and scale with little precedent in modern history, promising more than $1 trillion in infrastructure and spanning more than 60 countries. …
“Mr. Xi is aiming to use China’s wealth and industrial know-how to create a new kind of globalization that will dispense with the rules of the aging Western-dominated institutions. The goal is to refashion the global economic order, drawing countries and companies more tightly into China’s orbit. …
“‘President Xi believes this is a long-term plan that will involve the current and future generations to propel Chinese and global economic growth,’ said Cao Wenlian, director general of the International Cooperation Center of the National Development and Reform Commission, a group dedicated to the initiative. ‘The plan is to lead the new globalization 2.0.’
“Mr. Xi is rolling out a more audacious version of the Marshall Plan, America’s postwar reconstruction effort. Back then, the United States extended vast amounts of aid to secure alliances in Europe. China is deploying hundreds of billions of dollars of state-backed loans in the hope of winning new friends around the world, this time without requiring military obligations.
“Mr. Xi’s plan stands in stark contrast to President Trump and his “America First” mantra. …”
Contrast China’s ambitious global infrastructure construction program with America. We’re investing in global war while our infrastructure rots (getting a D- in this year’s report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Picture of the new railroad station in Wuhan (central China).
China’s advantage over America
The center of world’s economic power moved during the past few centuries from East to West. Poor leadership drove China’s decline, while the major western nations had strong (ruthless, greedy) leadership. Now the reverse is true. Bet on brains, spirit and social cohesion rather than the West’s greater wealth and military power.
China has advantages ignored in most tallies of its condition. First, economic growth makes most problems easier to solve. It creates new wealth to be shared, reduces social stress, and facilitating building a consensus about national policy. It produces new income with which to solve problems. Success boosts morale and strengthen the bonds between leaders and citizens. Unfortunately, these dynamics work equally well in reverse. Economic stagnation breeds disunity and dissension. It saps national morale.
But it has a far larger advantage: good leadership. Wise and far-sighted decisions are the largest force-multiplier. Weak leaders delay key decisions, and then make short-sighted — even foolish — choices.
America vs. China
China is reducing pollution, increase energy efficiency with cutting-edge power systems, and building state-of-the-art transportation systems. They have successfully reduced population growth (avoiding the crowded dystopia India has created). They are building a network of partners around the world, linked by loans and trade agreements.
We’re doing the opposite. Our economy is locked into slow growth, with decaying infrastructure, discredited foreign policies (endless discord, mad wars), and no rational energy policy. We have spent 15 years tearing down the international regime the Greatest Generation built after WWII. Who is the exceptional nation in today’s world?
Every two years we vote. The results reveal who we are. Is our true nature a nation of good leaders and active citizens, working together to build a great future? Or are we a rodeo clown show, at which the world laughs?
We have enough time to do better starting in 2020, if we begin now. We will be what we want to be.
For More Information
See Wednesday’s post: Stratfor explains how China’s Belt and Roads Initiative might reshape Europe.
- Will China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank begin a new world order? It’s more important than the skeptics believe, less threatening than the doomsters say.
- China takes the lead in supercomputing while America sleeps.
- Stratfor: China builds a new Silk Road for the 21st century.
- Good news from China about climate change! — Weaning China off coal.
- Stratfor gives us the good news: Red China Goes Green.
- Stratfor: Trump risks a trade war with China that cannot be won.
To learn more about China’s new Silk Road…
See China’s Asian Dream: empire building along the New Silk Road. by Tom Miller (senior Asia analyst at GaveKal). From the publisher …
“Under Xi, China is pursuing an increasingly ambitious foreign policy with the aim of restoring its historical status as the dominant power in Asia. From the Mekong Basin to the Central Asian steppe, the country is wooing its neighbors with promises of new roads, railways, dams, and power grids. Chinese trade and investment presents huge opportunities for China’s neighbors, and its ability to build much-needed infrastructure could assist in the development of some of the world’s poorest countries.
“Yet China’s rise also threatens to reduce its neighbours to the status of exploited vassals. In Vietnam and Myanmar, resentment of Chinese encroachment has already incited anti-Chinese protests, and many countries in the region are seeking to counterbalance its influence by turning to the US and Japan. Combining a concise overview of the situation with on-the-ground reportage from over seven countries, China’s Asian Dream offers a fresh perspective on one of the most important questions of our time: what does China’s rise mean for the future of Asia and of the world?”