Plain English Version – July 27, 2021
China is challenging the West. What is the West? It is not only nations in Europe or North America. It is countries that practice democracy.
India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia are Western nations that surround China. They worry about China’s size and ambitions. They view China with suspicion. Also, in the West, the United States and most of Europe see China as an adversary.
China is one country against the West.
Which country or which bloc of nations will become the dominant force in the years to come?
China recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its Communist Party. It was a confrontational event. The President of China is Xi Jinping. He rules the country with an iron grip. In his presidential speech, Xi Jinping said, “The Chinese people will never allow foreign forces to bully, oppress or enslave us. Whoever nurses delusions of doing that will crack their heads and spill blood on the Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
Those are pretty strong words from a country no one is thinking of attacking. Of course, much of the speech was for domestic political reasons.
But China has embarked on a campaign to become the leading nation in the world. It thinks that a land run by an authoritarian government will win over democracies. Democracies are not efficient. They have to accommodate the views of different people. They have elections and debates. This makes them slow to react and indecisive.
China has problems of its own. Its population is aging and declining in size. Years ago, the leaders tried to limit families to one child. That worked too well. When parents have more money, they have fewer children.
Now China wants more children. Millions of Chinese are aging and collecting pensions.
Climate change is having a big impact on China. As the economy grew, so did the urban areas. Buildings and subways sprang up. Now flooding is a problem. China is not alone. But programs that divert attention from growth slow down the economy.
China is assaulting its own people. Hong Kong was a center of global business. Great Britain turned Hong Kong over to China on the promise that it would remain a free business area for years to come. Hong Kong was too democratic for China. It is now ending democracy by arresting the leaders.
China decided a Muslim minority of Uyghur people in the province of Xinjiang needed a reeducation program. It included forced labor. Some observers charge that China is committing “genocide” on the population.
Taiwan is an island nation of twenty million people off the coast of China. China says Taiwan is part of mainland China. The U.S. is pledged to defend Taiwan. It is a sore point between China and the West.
Above all, the future of cyberspace is at the heart of the faceoff between China and the West. That battle for control of information is just getting underway.
Worst of all, China is controlling its people. Surveillance is everywhere. Dissent is not allowed. Free expression cannot take place. Can rule by one small group make a nation successful? What happens if things go wrong and there is no way to choose new leaders?
It will make no sense to anyone to see China and Western nations go to war. There can be no winners. But tensions continue to arise on every other front. The drama between China and the West is only starting.
Resource: The New York Times