September 22nd 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Water, water everywhere, but not for the farmers

EDITORIAL Power companies in clover after closures

CANBERRA OBSERVED Liberals in need of an internal peacemaker

ENERGY Solar, wind dependence will add $1300 to power bills, engineers, scientists warn

LIFE ISSUES Queensland life march busts media stereotypes

ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS Unmask activists disguised as nature lovers

FOREIGN AFFAIRS China takes up challenge to imitate and overtake America

CHINA AND AUSTRALIA Paul Monk thunders at kowtowing former pollies

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Hawaii: Pearl of the Pacific

BOOK EXCERPT From Patrick J. Byrne's book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey

FREE SPEECH University of Western Australia blinks again

LIFE ISSUES Queensland law will open floodgates to sex-selective abortion

HUMOUR

MUSIC Pop and singing: A certain antagonism

CINEMA Christopher Robin: The best something comes from nothing

BOOK REVIEW A so-called industry with only a dark side

BOOK REVIEW Population see-saw changes direction

LETTERS

POETRY

EUTHANASIA No concoction can kill peacefully

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS
China takes up challenge to imitate and overtake America


by Luca Rossi

News Weekly, September 22, 2018

Since World War II and until very recently, global relations were predominately driven by an ideological warfare represented by the polarising struggle between market capitalism in democratic states and communism. The conflict, defined by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), manifested around the globe in wars such as those in Angola, Cuba, Chile, Korea and Vietnam. The two powers fought for supremacy in these proxy wars, the space race and, most importantly and most dangerously, the nuclear arms race.

Today, new forces are reshaping the world. The collapse of the USSR saw American dominance rise in the “New World Order” as described by President George W. Bush. It seemed that its influence would be as widespread and as lengthy as that of the Roman Empire. But instead, the speed of global change has never been greater than at present.

Numerous developments slowly simmering since the end of World War II are now coming to fruition. Shifting global alliances, geopolitical issues, the war on terror and the rise of the Asian tigers, particularly China, are challenging the economic and military dominance of America and reshaping our world.

The U.S. takes the lead

Attempting to modernise the Soviet Union, Mikhael Gorbachev introduced perestroika (reform of the economic and political system) and glasnost (opening the government to public scrutiny) in the 1990s. These instead became the basis for the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev had implemented voting in lower-level institutions such as municipalities, but this led to the empowerment of nationalist movements among the Soviet bloc republics, which then threatened to leave.

The privatisation of industry in the USSR aimed at modernising the industrial sector had the unintended consequence of challenging communist principles, which led to the creation of a more capitalist and competitive system that contradicted communist ideology. In the end, the rising ideological tensions led to a collapse in confidence in the principles of communism and the Soviet Union was torn apart, leaving the U.S. as the sole dominant superpower.

Freed from the shackles of the nuclear arms race, America spread its influence globally with no apparent end in sight. However, today its economic and military dominance are being challenged.

The Japanese challenge

Japan was, until 2011, the second largest economy in the world. Its economic recovery after World War II was unprecedented, with state intervention facilitating growth of more than 10 per cent a year between 1950 and 1973. Most importantly, exports increased dramatically as the government devalued the yen to make Japanese products cheaper overseas. Thus, Japan’s cheap but high-quality goods directly challenged American manufacturing dominance.

This was helped by the Korean War (1950–53), as America helped rebuild Japan as a barrier against any communist threat from Korea. The purchase of munitions from Japan and the injections into the economy made the Korean War a “gift from the gods” for the Japanese.

The Oil Crisis of 1973 slowed Japan’s growth but, relative to America and Europe, the impact was much less and Japan was spared the high unemployment suffered in Europe and America. As the first of the rising Asian “tiger” nations, Japan established itself as a serious contender on the global economic front.

The rise of China

In the last decade China has risen to surpass Japan. China has risen not only in economic strength but in military strength such that it is boldly challenging the might of America. With its nuclear capacity, the recent launch of its first aircraft carrier, and its build-up of military bases on the Spratly and other island chains in the South China Sea, it seems that China has found its feet.

The road to this new China has been problematic. Mao Zedong, disillusioned with the Soviet model of central planning, launched the Great Leap Forward. Today it is known to have been one of the worst disasters in human history. As Mao pursued his utopian ideals, peasants lost their land, society was divided into communes, free enterprise was stopped, and mass migrations across the country were engineered that resulted in famine, killing 20 million to 40 million people.

His vision was to overtake the West in 15 years but it reduced China to Third World status. After this, moderates attempted to sideline Mao. In response, he began the Cult of Mao, recruiting young people to the Red Guard to expose enemies of the revolution within the Communist Party of China (CPC). In their fervour, the Red Guard killed any suspected enemy, including many elderly, teachers and professionals. This insanity ceased with Mao’s death in 1976.

The reforms of the last two decades have opened China to greater international trade and spurred the introduction of elements of market capitalism. Though still heavily controlled by the Government, it has seen growth averaging double digits in the last decade and a desire to expand their sphere of influence.

China now claims a large part of the South China Sea as its territorial waters and is warning all foreign shipping to steer clear. Sovereignty over the Spratly Islands is disputed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei.

The threat this poses to Taiwan is obvious. Taiwan was a refuge for the Kuomintang and its followers, led by Chiang Kai-shek, who fled Mao’s communist regime. The Taiwanese government continues to claim that it is the legitimate (though exiled) government of China. On the other hand, China claims Taiwan is rightfully Chinese territory.

China’s bold move is a clear vaunt of its military strength and a challenge to America’s naval presence in the region. Some months ago, France and the UK issued joint statements that they will join the United States in increasing their presence in the South China Sea, which they insist is still international waters. Thus, China’s moves to stop shipping through the Spratly Islands is a sure sign of them exercising their military might in a bid to challenge America’s naval supremacy.

Terrorism

Perhaps the greatest threat to the American way of life is the growing threat of terrorism. While the thriving economies of the Asian Tigers and the militarisation of China threaten American “superpower” dominance, the increasing threat of terrorism is impacting on the very fabric of American society. Countering its threat has required the restriction of personal liberties and an ever-growing government presence in people’s lives. Passive surveillance in the form of cameras is widespread, travel restrictions are now the norm, and any suspicious conduct can result in police investigations.

Other, more pervasive measures have been taken. For example, the Patriot Act of 2001 loosened restrictions on communications surveillance following the September 11 attack, in a bid to protect America from more terror attacks.

This intrusion into private communications was unprecedented and was severely criticised as a violation of privacy rights. However, the growing fear of terrorism in the American psyche meant a large proportion of American society viewed this as a necessary step to counter terrorists and safeguard the people.

Additionally, President Georg W. Bush secretly signed an order permitting the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap public communications without court approval. These actions brought into question the sanctity of the freedoms that America was urging onto other nations and fighting for in the name of spreading democracy and liberty. This more than anything shows the challenge that terrorism is to America, not as a military or economic force to reckon with, but as an insidious intruder indirectly affecting people’s lives, their interactions and fears.

The military solutions America has pursued have had little effect. These included the 1998 bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, incorrectly suspected of manufacturing chemical weapons for al Qaeda; the invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks; the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan; the first Gulf War; and the second Gulf war, with the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, which unleashed religious and ethnic divisions in Iraq.

Ultimately, America has carried out invasive and costly measures whose results have been unremarkable.

The United States has held the position of global superpower since the end of World War II. For decades it shared the mantle with the USSR as they engaged in an ideological struggle between market capitalism and communism. It seemed that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, America would reign supreme, spreading its ideology and values. The vainglory was short lived.

Today the world is facing new forces that are challenging America’s dominance and influence in the world. Although no one expected this a few short years ago, the seeds for the current state of affairs were sown in a multitude of post-World War II events. It is only through the lens of hindsight that we can begin to decipher and make meaning of the shifting global landscape.




























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