There is no doubt that after the second world war, COVID 19 is the most decisive development in the world, that is likely to turn upside down the relations between different countries and the way that humanity would view things in life.
China’s ambition for world dominance :
In the last few decades, China has been steadily and cleverly improving its strategic importance in the world by strengthening its industrial, technological, economic and military base, by launching schemes such as OBOR and several others, which appear to be successful to some extent, as far as China is concerned.
China has been emboldened in launching several strategies with least concern for fairness and with a high level of self-centredness, as it has remained largely unchallenged. For example, China occupied Tibet by aggressive methods several decades back, when the Tibetan dissenters were ruthlessly massacred and it drove out the protestors including the venerable the Dalai Lama.
With the nearby countries like Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and others, China has raised disputes in several areas such as Senkaku Island, the South China Sea where China claims sovereign power. While the affected countries have been protesting, China remains unconcerned about such protests and the world view on these disputes.
China is rapidly expanding trade and investment activities and taking over several mines in different countries and acquiring assets abroad in a well planned and systematic way to gradually increase its world dominance.
So far, rest of the world has largely remained as if it is unconcerned about China’s efforts to rapidly increase its dominance in the world arena, since China has opened its large market to the rest of the world and multinational companies, who want to exploit market potential in China, particularly since, the market in developed countries have become nearly saturated for several products. Today, no country or any multinational company want to miss the trade opportunities that China offers.
Why the concern about China’s increasing dominance?
There is nothing wrong if any country would want to strengthen itself economically and become a major power in the world. This could be a legitimate ambition for any nation.
However, this logic cannot be straightaway applied in the case of China, as China is known to have expansionist ambitions not only in terms of economy but also in terms of territory.
China has a totalitarian regime with freedom of speech heavily suppressed and personal liberty severely curtailed. Dissenters in China are known to be eliminated ruthlessly.
The concern is that if a country with a totalitarian regime and not having any concern about ethical and fair practices would happen to dominate the world, then the world would become an unsafe place.
Now, there is a rapidly developing world view that China’s increasing dominance in world affairs could upset the world balance of power and create conflicts of interest.
This is one of the primary reasons why US President Trump launched a trade war against China. However, the trade war has not discouraged China so far or dissuaded it from the ambition of world dominance at any cost. Now, at this juncture, many people wonder as to who would be the bigger loser in the trade war, whether China or the USA.
China’s propaganda amid coronavirus crisis
China is the originator of COVID 19 and is accused of playing a trick on the world by not sharing with the world,
information about COVID 19 at the right time, that has now engulfed the entire world.
In the present ongoing COVID 19 crisis, it appears that China looks like having the last laugh.
USA and West European countries, as well as Japan, which has considered themselves as the leading lights among the world countries and scientifically advanced now, stand humiliated, with the rapid spread of the virus in their regions causing huge loss of lives.
As the world is struggling to tackle the crisis and now facing distress and uncertain conditions, China claims that it has sorted out the issue and it has become free of the virus in the region. When some people were affected by the virus after China lifted the lockdown China says that it has happened only due to the overseas visitors and not due to any development within.
In this scenario, China is deliberately trying to create an impression, by launching a massive propaganda campaign that it has the capability to control the virus. This campaign obviously implies that when the other countries do not know how to go about China has wiped out the virus in its region. In the process, China is deliberately trying to create an impression around the world that China is more advanced than in other countries.
In other words, China seems to convey the view that it has the merits to claim that it is the superpower and not the USA, which has recorded the highest deaths in the world due to coronavirus.
The agony of affected countries:
Obviously, the USA and most European countries and Japan are seething with anger and frustration at the humiliation that they have suffered due to COVID crisis. This is more so, in view of China’s arrogant assertion that the COVID 19 did not first happen in China but elsewhere such as Italy or the USA or anywhere else.
There is a clear realisation amongst these countries that China’s ambition to dominate the world should be defeated if they were to hold their place in the world scenario. This realization would be the ultimate driving force for any possible coordinated action against China.
While there is no formal coordinated efforts between the USA, West European countries and Japan in tackling “China dragon”, the pointers are clear that they would soon discuss the strategies in a coordinated manner with a mutual interest in view.
The first step to control China has already been taken by Japan, which has said that it would fund firms of Japanese companies to shift production out of China.
Export dependent economy :
China became the world’s largest exporter in 2010, and the largest trading nation in 2013
While the investments in China have gone up in a big way, too much of capacities have been built up in several areas such as steel aluminium and several others such as chemical/polymer and allied products. As a result, the capacity utilisation of industries in China has gone down to an unacceptable level in many cases, leading to losses, closures and mergers.
Since 2009, China has been trying hard to rejig its export-dependent economy to the one more dependent on domestic consumption. However, such efforts to increase domestic consumption are not making a big impact, since China’s per capita income is below the world average.
Import dependence :
Even as China is a large exporter, it is also dependent on import in a big way for several products and services.
China is dependent on imports of crude oil to around 70 per cent of its requirement and is the largest importer of crude oil in the world.
About 80 per cent of its microchip requirement is met by imports. It has been spending $260 billion every year on import of semiconductors and chips, which is more than the money spent on import of crude oil.
What options are available for countries wanting to combat China’s domination?
A large part of the investment in China has been made by multinational companies with a base in Europe, USA and Japan. They just cannot withdraw from China on any count in the immediate future in view of the investments already committed in China, technologies already shared with Chinese technologists and the fact that equipment and the infrastructure facilities built cannot just be lifted out of China at will.
Further, the market base in China is large and cannot be surrendered in a quick period by any multinational companies and regions like USA, Western Europe and Japan. Their alternate strategies to “teach China a lesson” will take time to evolve and implement.
In the event of trade and economic warfare launched by the USA, West European countries and Japan, China will not be able to hold on to its present economic strength.