Dealing with the strategic procrastination of the US-China conflict

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  • Notice by Daud Khan, Leila Yasmine Khan (amsterdam / rome)
  • Inter Press Service

The Western press is full of talk about the gravity of the Chinese. Among the main problems are China’s human rights violations, their stalking of Muslim Uyghurs and their trampling on civil rights and other freedoms in Hong Kong.

This hysteria will grow as China takes more aggressive postures on various issues such as Taiwan reunification (which it will surely do sooner or later); claims various islands off its coasts; and trade and political agreements around the world, especially in resource-rich countries like those in the Middle East and Africa.

Despite all the rants and talk about sanctions and boycotts, as of yet, no one is giving up doing business with China. In 2020, China was the main recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI). In fact, while global FDI has fallen sharply, investments in China hit a record high of over US $ 160 billion – and large Western multinationals are leading the charge in China.

It’s a similar story with Hong Kong. Despite all the criticism of the Chinese crackdown and how it will destroy confidence, Hong Kong’s financial sector is booming. Forbes, a leading economic analysis and news periodical, says Hong Kong remains “a top choice for fundraising, and the city has been the world’s # 1 IPO in the past seven years. over the past 12 years. In 2020 alone, HKEX saw a 24% year-over-year increase in fundraising, raising a total of HK $ 398 billion (US $ 51.3 billion) from of 154 adverts. This is the highest amount in a single year since 2010 …… ”. Western financial institutions are heavily involved.

So, as Western countries continue to do business with China, developing countries are increasingly being asked to make a choice. The position is similar to that of the United States during the Cold War or the War on Terror – either you are with us or you are against us.

But developing countries must remain well aware of the history of the past decades. The United States had no qualms about starting wars and invasions when it suited them; racism, discrimination and Islamophobia are still part of the culture of many sections of society in Western countries; and the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is fueled by their populist parties is gaining ground.

At the same time, developing countries should have no illusions about what it means to be in the clutches of the Chinese dragon. The Chinese may not have had a recent colonial history, but there has been a lot of chaos and bloodshed in their past. Moreover, as many countries are beginning to discover, Chinese friendship, aid and investment sometimes come at a high economic and political cost.

The best strategy for developing countries in the years to come would be to avoid taking sides at all costs; win time; to hem and haw. But what I call “strategic procrastination” doesn’t simply mean indecision or postponement. It also means looking around for the best possible deal, trying to play one side against the other, negotiating and negotiating and negotiating.

The rhetoric of China’s foreign policy is that it does not seek out geopolitical spheres of influence. Rather, he seeks shared prosperity, and his companies have been invited to make deals. This is good news for developing countries and they should make sure they use the Chinese deals to try to get better deals in the US or Europe as well.

If they need to upgrade their computer hardware, they have to compare Qualcomm (US), Eriksson (European), and Huawei (Chinese). If they have to buy or sell agricultural products, they should talk to the Chinese COFCO, the new kid on the block, as well as the four big traditional grain traders (ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Drefus) who have up to now dominated the world. Trade. If they have to build infrastructure, they have to talk to Chinese giants such as China Communications Construction Company as well as Bechtel (USA), or to some of the big Europeans such as Vinci and Skanska.

However, trying to play two superpowers against each other is no easy task. It is certainly risky. And all governments may not be smart and savvy enough to do it right.

What would certainly help is greater transparency and more careful public scrutiny of large government-to-government agreements signed by developing countries – whether with China, the United States, or any other country.

And there is no doubt that with their rich history of NGOs, lobbyists, advocacy groups and whistleblowers, Western countries are better at it. It is essential that these groups continue their work in developing countries and that their national counterparts continue to be as welcoming and cooperative as possible.

Another important source of technical assistance and oversight is the various United Nations agencies and international NGOs such as Transparency International. The press, academics and intellectuals in developing countries need to strengthen their links with these organizations – not only because of their skills and neutrality, but also because they are in a stronger political position to express themselves and to be listened to.

Daud khanworks as a consultant and advisor for various governments and international agencies. He graduated in Economics from LSE and Oxford – where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a degree in environmental management from the Imperial College of Science and Technology.He lives partly in Italy and partly in Pakistan

Leila Yasmine Khan is a freelance writer and editor based in the Netherlands. She holds an MA in Philosophy of Cognition and an MA in Argument Theory and Rhetoric – both from the University of Amsterdam – as well as a BA in Philosophy from the University of Rome (Roma Tre). She provided research and editorial support.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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