When the Soviet Union fell in December of 1991, it was seen by most who viewed it as the start of a new era of prosperity and peace. Francis Fukuyama famously declared afterward that it heralded ‘the end of history’; free market liberal capitalism had won, and nothing would now replace it. The hubris and short sightedness of this conclusion is now very obviously apparent; liberal democracy is now in full blown crisis, and to make matters worse a new essentially imperialist China is emerging as the first nation among equals.
In my view, we are beginning to enter into a second cold war with the People’s Republic of China. We’ve already had an ongoing trade war with China for some time, and now many states have condemned Chinese actions in Hong Kong and their effective genocide of the Uyghur people.
Of course, none of this really will make much difference, and when even the foreign secretary admits that we have no hope of coercing China into cooperating then you know it’s hopeless.
The battlegrounds of this new proxy war will likely be similar to where the proxy wars of the last century were fought, southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Africa is currently the most rapidly urbanising region in the world, and that urbanisation is fuelled almost exclusively by Chinese workers, money, and material. As the European powers of old did, China is buying its way into the continent, for now at least.
Modern China is effectively an authoritarian imperialist power, in the way it acts, in the way its ideology affects its people, in the way it treats its non-Han citizens and in the way it builds railroads into the corners of its empire. China has the population, the natural resources, the inclination and the will to become the only superpower on earth; we are looking squarely in the face of a new order, a Pax Sinica that will be here a long time to come.
Photo by Tomas Roggero on Flickr.
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