Monday, 5 May 2014

China and the USA's Pivot to the East

'China's economy was 87% the size of the US economy..This would have many important consequences beyond the most obvious – that the US, the symbol of post-second world war democracy and western capitalist beliefs, is no longer the world's biggest economy'.
China's economic power is one thing; its potential military weight, however, is being offset in advance by the US through Obama's 'pivot to Asia' strategy which, since 2011, has sought to counter an increase in China's economic and political power in the Far East.

There is no evidence the US intends giving up its global dominance. In particular Washington has made plain it intends to back its south east Asian allies in their disputes with China over access to the oil of the South China Sea. There is also a dispute between Japan and China, in the East China Sea, over the Senkaku /Diaoyu islands

As Michael Klare points out, the US has created an 'anti-Chinese coalition on China’s periphery' by providing military support to India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, a strategy responded to by China bolstering is naval fleet.

The US promotion of free trade ties to Asian states is already under threat from China's model of development in which states supply them with raw material and in return benefit from investments in infrastructure, partnership with Chinese businesses and arms sales.

With the shale oil and gas 'revolution', the US has become less interested in the Middle East as it was under George Bush. Instead, the aim is to contain China as this nascent economic superpower made inroads into both Eurasia and the Pacific regions in the 2000s when the US was bogged down in the Iraq War

China is set to become more dependent upon oil from the unstable Middle East than the US. By securing naval dominance of the South China sea and other vital sea lanes through which oil and LNG flows, the US can thereby put itself in a power political position so as to hold China in check.

In Egypt, the Obama administration was prepared to tacitly acknowledge the military coup of 2013 as it wants to preserve its influence over the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden ( one reason for US concern for Yemen and also Somalia where oil is present ).

In Afghanistan, the continued presence of US forces and mercenaries is concerned with containing Chinese inroads there as regards its competition for lithium and other minerals. The TAPI pipeline would also bind Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India closer as a bulwark against Chinese influence.

China's influence in Iran was a major reason for the growing importance of the TAPI pipeline, a  main geopolitical ambition of the Afghanistan war ( though unmentionable to the US and European publics ). which would block off Iran's rival IP pipeline and work towards isolating it.

The rise of the Chinese super-economy and rivalry with the US for control over energy supplies and resources is part of a global New Great Game. An arms race and ferocious competition to court oil and gas producing states is as important as China's clout in global economic institutions.

A pathological race for resources stretching from the Greater Middle East to the Eurasian landmass through to the Pacific is on and could herald a new epoch of proxy conflicts ( e.g Syria ), terrorist blowback from destabilised regions, resource wars and the rise of authoritarian security states.

In that sense, China, far from being an anomaly with its authoritarian political structure and turbocapitalist economy, may be a model that other states across the globe would start to converge towards, including the democratic states of Europe and the US ( as predicted in Huxley's Brave New World revisited )

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