By: Raúl Zibechi
Towards the end of this century China will be the new hegemon, replacing the United States as the world leader, the only question being whether there will be nuclear war during the process. It’s curious that a good part of the world’s left observes with sympathy or neutrality this ascent that tends to convert China into a new form of imperialism.
The ways in which China has been rising on the global stage are different than those that the United States maintained at a similar stage, particularly in the first years of the 20th Century, when it intervened militarily in its nearby zones or backyard, particularly in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. To the contrary, China is becoming a superpower without violence or wars, which marks a notable difference. According to the repeated statements of its leaders, it will continue on the path of peace.
In second place, the history of China is very different than that of previous hegemonic powers, the United States, England, the Netherlands and Venice. The country of the dragon suffered invasions of colonial powers during the 14th Century and from Japan and in the 20th Century, which speaks of a society that suffered the ravages of colonialism and imperialism.
In contrast, since 1823 when the Monroe Doctrine proclaimed that Latin America was the “sphere of influence” of the United States, the ascendant power carried out 50 military interventions in the region, half of them in the first part of the 20th Century. The objective was to overthrow governments that Washington considered enemies and to prevent personalities or parties opposed to its interests from coming to power.
The third question is that in its history China was never an imperialist power and was limited to defending itself more than to conquering territories. It was a relatively fragile empire with grave internal problems, which it had to come face to face with to resolve without the ability to project itself abroad.
Nevertheless, we must address other reasons that point in an opposite sense.
The first is that China has been converted into a great power present in all corners of the planet, into a great exporter of capital with powerful state and private monopolies, oriented on behalf of the State. Although a financial oligarchy still does not exist in China, like in the Western countries, which represents the domination of financial capital over productive capital, a strong tendency in that direction is noted, since Chinese capitalism is guided by the same logic as global capitalism.
However, the tendency towards the predominance of financial capital and to protect large investments abroad through forms of diplomatic intervention, register beyond the declared will of its rulers. The peaceful rise of China through initiatives like the Silk Road and the Made in China 2025 plan to become a global technology leader, are clashing with Washington’s response that has declared a trade war.
The Asian country is forced to enter into that war, in the same way that it must enter into the global financial sector to internationalize its currency, since it must play by the current rules. Throughout this long process of ascent, China is modifying its profile, constructing more powerful armed forces with the ability to intervene around the world, as the rapid construction of a fleet of aircraft carriers and fifth generation fighter planes demonstrates.
The second is that Chinese culture is profoundly conservative, with a very strong patriarchal bias. It is constructing a large State over this base to control its population, which will come to install up to 600 million surveillance cameras in order to form part of what William I. Robinson calls the “global police State.”
Chinese digitalized capitalism needs to surpass the United States in the industrial revolution underway, “based on robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of objects, artificial intelligence, machine learning, bio and nanotechnology, quantum computing and in cloud, new forms of energy storage and autonomous vehicles.” China is now the main pro-globalization force, which sharpens the tendencies towards the global police State.
Finally, I believe that it is essential to analyze the relationship of Chinese political culture to the anti-systemic movements of the world. The three dates that movements celebrate all over the world (March 8, May 1 and June 28), were born through popular struggles in the United States and in European countries, which ought to make us reflect.
I don’t pretend to insinuate that revolutionary traditions don’t exist in China. The cultural revolution that Mao Tse Tung arranged is a good example. But those traditions are not playing a hegemonic role in the movements. We are before a turn of history that requires us to seek references, deepening the struggles.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, August 3, 2018
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee