Cold War II and Akbar Ahmed

Mr Akbar Ahmed, who is currently a Professor of International Relations and holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, School of International Service in Washington, D.C. and served as the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland, has written an article titled ‘Humanity’s Ledger’ published in the portal The Friday Times.

In this article he writes ” We are at this very moment once again in a Cold War, a Cold War II, between the US and China, and at a threshold which may well be the swan song of the human race in a final nuclear apocalypse ”.

Having correctly assessed the world situation, however, Akbar Ahmed does not go deeply into the matter, and its causes, and instead dilates on Samuel Huntington’s book ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, Henry Kissinger’s view, books of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, and irrelevant things like Australian vasectomies, the works of Rumi, Shakespeare, Keats, Hafiz, Ghalib, and the messages of Ram, Buddha, Guru Nanak, Confucius, Jesus and the Quran.

I regret to say that Akbar Ahmed has no idea of the realities, and has indulged in sentimental claptrap and balderdash. So let me explain.

In the 1930s and 1940s Nazi German imperialism was the real danger to the world, and not British or French imperialism. This was because German imperialism was rising and expanding, and hence aggressive imperialism, while British and French imperialism were only defensive. While the latter only wanted to hold on to their colonies, the Nazis wanted to conquer and enslave other countries. Hence the Nazis were the real danger to the world.

Similarly, today the danger to the world is not from America but from China, because the Chinese are on the road of aggressive expansionism in the world. With their massive industry seeking markets for its goods, and with their huge 3.2 trillion dollar foreign exchange reserve hungrily seeking avenues for profitable investment, the Chinese are today aggressive imperialists, and the greatest danger to the world. It is true they are not presently expanding militarily like Nazi Germany, but they are aggressively expanding economically by penetrating and undermining the economies of many countries of the world.

In the last decade Chinese overseas investment has skyrocketed. Today the Chinese are almost everywhere, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and of course USA and Europe. Their Belt and Road Initiative is a network of roads, railways, oil pipelines, power grids, ports and other infrastructure projects connecting China with the world. It aims at improving infrastructure and connectivity between China and the rest of Eurasia in order to dominate it. China’s focus is often on vital infrastructure like ports e.g. Gwadar in Pakistan, Piraeus in Greece, and Hambantota in Sri Lanka, the aim being to get a strategic foothold in these countries.

By selling goods at less than half the price at which the American or European manufacturer can afford to sell ( in view of his higher labour cost in Western countries ), the Chinese have destroyed many American and European industries. Now the Chinese are seeking to capture the markets and raw materials in underdeveloped countries by dumping goods at very low prices so as to make the local product uncompetitive. Pakistan, for instance, is flooded with cheap Chinese goods.

While capturing foreign markets, the Chinese were carefully protecting their own by high tariffs. It has to be said to the credit of President Trump that he called the Chinese bluff, and bluntly told the Chinese that this won’t do. You can’t have 25% tariff on import of automobiles into China when USA imposes a tariff of only 2.5% for import of cars into USA.

Trump imposed tariffs on several Chinese goods and announced more in the future. To this, the Chinese announced retaliatory tariffs, but that hurt Americans little.

It is well known that the Chinese have no business ethics, and that is why many American and European companies are reluctant to hire Chinese from mainland China as they often commit espionage of industrial secrets.

Since I am an Indian, I would like to refer to China’s economic relation with India.

As is well known, India was a Brtish colony till 1947, and the British policy was broadly to keep India unindustrialised. However, after Independence a certain degree of industrialisation took place in India and we started manufacturing goods which we had to earlier import.

Now the Chinese have, to a certain extent, penetrated our market at the expense of our domestic industries. An article entitled ‘How Chinese companies are beating India in its own backyard’ published on 12.12.2017 in The Economic Times gives some interesting details. Indo-Chinese trade is heavily skewed in favour of the Chinese. Indian exports to China are of 16 billion dollars, mainly of raw materials. But its imports from China are of 68 billion dollars, mainly of value added goods like mobile phones, plastics, electrical goods, machinery and its parts. This is typical of the relation between a colony and an imperialist country.

Chinese companies use aggressive pricing, state subsidies, protectionist policies and cheap financing. In certain sectors Chinese companies dominate the Indian market e.g. in the telecom sector, 51% of which has been captured by the Chinese. Indian homes are full of Chinese goods e.g. fittings, lampshades, tubelights, etc.

The Chinese today, though calling themselves socialist, are in fact imperialists, for like imperialists they seek foreign markets and raw materials to capture, and thus enslave other countries. Presently their expansionism is economic, not military, but one never knows when military conflicts may break out.

To ignore this danger will be behaving like an ostrich, like Neville Chamberlain, who kept thinking Hitler was no danger until it was almost too late.

What must the world do in this situation ? The first requirement is to recognise this danger, and the next is to form multinational alliances against it. This will not be easy, because the Chinese have suborned leaders of many countries, e.g. Srilanka. But it must be done to prevent enslavement by the Chinese.


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