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America vs China New Left Review
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although it should recognize that some consequences of its system were. unacceptable to the us Martin Wolf explained in the Financial Times that. the right path was to manage relations with a China that would be both. foe and friend But the liberal media has largely backed the new line. International suspicion has as much to do with the nature of China s. system as with the company Huawei itself stated the Financial Times. Trump has been right to press all the issues declared the nyt The. Economist agreed America needs to be strong Trump s willingness. to disrupt and offend can be effective 2 A lead text in the latest number. of Foreign Affairs dials up the charges China is seeking complete domi. nance in the Indo Pacific region where it aims to be the unchallenged. political economic and military hegemon Beijing has been able to pick. and choose in its relations with the us designed institutions of the global. order the un wto World Bank and has built support for itself in. regions where the us has been relatively speaking absent Africa. Central Asia Iran Sudan North Korea It has been undermining the us. alliance system in Asia encouraging the Philippines to distance itself. from Washington supporting Seoul s opening to Pyongyang backing. Japan against us tariffs Though America should hope to maintain its. Asian pre eminence through competitive but peaceful means it should. brace itself for the use of military force 3, How serious are these new great power antagonisms and what is their. logic Unpacking the structural relations between the two is compli. cated not only by their mutual interdependence but by the disparities. between them both as friends financial and economic partners. and foes These asymmetries characterize not only their size wealth. power and political models but their aims and objectives In the last. age of great power competition the protagonists were of the same. genus advanced industrial capitalist nation states though expanding at. uneven speeds and with unequal overseas possessions In the present. National Security Strategy of the United States of America Washington dc 2017. pp 25 27 45 6, Editorial Board Huawei will struggle to assuage Western concerns ft 28 January. 2019 Editorial Board You don t understand tariffs man nyt 4 December 2018. China vs America Economist 18 October 2018, Oriana Skylar Mastro The Stealth Superpower How China Hid Its Global. Ambitions Foreign Affairs Jan Feb 2019,watkins US China 7. case both bodies are singular entities like nothing else that has existed. on Earth One is a globe straddling free market superpower the other. a peasant based Communist state that has undertaken thirty years of. high speed capitalist growth, The Soviet Union was a singular entity too But the ussr was founded.
as a negation of the capitalist system its opposite Lenin said The. prc likewise Yet China has become the most dynamic sector of that. system yielding high returns for Atlantic capital investing trillions in. dollar assets and securing America s great moderation of wages and. prices with its armadas of container ships ploughing the Pacific to. stock America s shelves The financial and economic interdependencies. between them are not only asymmetrical poor creditor rich debtor. but operate at multiple levels which have themselves been adjusting to. different degrees and at different tempos and remain at the mercy of. variable currencies Before 2007 commentators saw the trade imbal. ances between the two as the greatest risk to global economic stability. Since then the value of American imports from China has risen by 57. per cent while the prc provides an irreplaceable market for us agri. cultural aerospace and machinery products Yet areas of symbiosis. contrast with sharpening sectoral competition not just with us compa. nies but across rich world markets, Domestically the two economies provide a different set of contrasts. America s is a mature continental capitalism whose manufacturing. sector reached peak growth seventy years ago For the last forty it has. been struggling with falling profit rates met by downward pressure on. wages offshoring and flight to the higher returns of asset speculation. and overseas investment But if its share of world gdp has shrunk since. 1945 from a half to a quarter America has strengthened its global lead. in finance cultural production and technological innovation the digi. tal revolution is itself Made in usa By comparison China s gdp per. capita is less than a seventh of the us level and its share of world out. put is 18 per cent But Chinese growth has roared along at a sustained. annual average of 10 per cent for three decades only slowing in the last. few years Since the seventies wealth production in the us has slowly. shifted from rustbelt to sunbelt with hoards of wealth accumulating in a. few dozen counties Over the same period China has transformed itself. from a rural Asian country into an ultra modern urbanized society with. the world s largest intelligentsia, In this spectacular case of late comer combined development it s not. easy to distinguish the country of origin of the factors involved China. launched its manufacturing take off in the nineties on tides of trade that. were fast globalizing under American direction tariffs falling invest. ment capital swirling the logistics of containerization locking into place. These were preconditions for its growth But the prc borrowed the ini. tial formula for its export led model from East Asia s flying geese and. much early capital came from the regional Chinese diaspora as well. as Hong Kong Taiwan and Japan Offering cheap biddable labour for. assembly work in purpose built Special Economic Zones it acquired. the technical know how of modern manufacturing while sucking in. export earnings But the magnet that attracted American Japanese. and European firms to set up shop there was endogenous Made in. China a vast domestic consumer market whose economic and cul. tural capacities had developed under Communist rule Peasant literacy. an emancipated female labour force and a bureaucratic nerve system. extending to every village able to command bank lending organize. infrastructure and control capital flows these home grown factors as. much as its size set China s development apart from the other newly. industrializing countries, As political economic entities the two have not only been growing at dif. ferent speeds but each has been changing internally and externally in. different ways During the Cold War the us as world hegemon tolerated. a high degree of economic protectionism in its camp As the Communist. threat receded and inter capitalist competition intensified Washington. abandoned its self denying ordinance and began to use its global weight. to assert American national interests 4 Nixon revoked Bretton Woods in. favour of the fiat dollar system Reagan officials strong armed Germany. and Japan to revalue their currencies to give us exporters an extra edge. The World Bank and imf were used to prise open crisis stricken econo. mies and put their assets up for sale, Perry Anderson Imperium nlr 83 Sept Oct 2013 p 16 and American Foreign. Policy and Its Thinkers London and New York 2015 p 17 Here the fit and fric. tion between the universal capitalist and the national supremacist aspects of us. hegemony varying over time are examined in detail,watkins US China 9.
These were the first inklings of a new imperial order that took full form. once the us emerged as the single superpower It instituted a regime of. structural reforms that penetrated deep into the economic and political. life of other states opening them up to international flows of finance. and trade The reforms centred on the property rights of Atlantic firms. and investors operating overseas enabling them to gain ownership of. domestic assets in other countries and integrate them into global profit. streams At the same time the us instituted a sea change in inter state. relations abandoning the Westphalian principle of sovereign state juris. diction Sovereignty was now reconceived as a partial and conditional. licence which could be withdrawn if a state failed to comply with the. liberal economic and political norms set by the Washington led interna. tional community and monitored by its global institutions 5 Meanwhile. the erosion of other states sovereignty was matched by its accumula. tion at the imperial centre where the us arrogated to itself the right of. regime change with or without the consent of its allies It embarked. on a distinctively national oil and Israel centric programme of warfare. across the greater Middle East, Under this new order Washington s policy towards China was crystal. clear The guidelines set out in its 1993 National Security Strategy have. been followed unbendingly ever since The strategic priority for the us. after the Cold War was to prevent the emergence of a new superpower. It would maintain the unchallenged aerial and naval supremacy over. the Pacific region that it had enjoyed since 1945 Washington would. watch China closely and support contain or balance as need be The. aim was to press Beijing to implement the structural reforms spelled. out by the World Bank to open its markets fully to North Atlantic firms. and investors and guarantee their property rights Washington hoped. that socializing Chinese elites within its university system would help. to produce a new layer of Yeltsins and Gorbachevs open to the idea of. replacing the ccp with a more acceptable form of rule. Beijing has manifested no corresponding ambition to reform America s. domestic system nor to challenge head on the new inter state order. Peter Gowan Neoliberal Cosmopolitanism nlr 11 Sept Oct 2001 The 1648. Treaty of Westphalia put an end to Europe s devastating seventeenth century. wars of religion through a mutual agreement to respect the sovereign s domestic. jurisdiction,10 nlr 115, The dual objective of the ccp has been to protect the political economic. model it had built and to upgrade China s status within the American. run international system In contrast to the hard boiled prose of us. policy documents public iterations of China s grand strategy have been. nebulous where not negative Maintain a low profile hide brightness. do not seek leadership but do some things in the wisdom attributed to. Deng Xiaoping In practice China s foreign policy has been wavering. With an eye to pleasing the Americans it has lurched into aggressive. moves against fraternal regimes the disastrous invasion of Vietnam in. 1979 dispatch of Uighurs to support the American backed Mujahideen. in Afghanistan joining the us in sanctions against North Korea Belying. its occasional fulminations against hegemonism it cast its unsc vote in. favour of the occupation of Iraq and the bombardment of Libya. Operating within the new globalized order Beijing hoped to shield itself. from the fate that had befallen the region s open markets during the. 1997 Asian crisis when the imf descended upon Jakarta Bangkok and. Seoul Capital controls and a vast hoard of dollar earnings were its first. lines of defence opening up a 2 trillion trade surplus with the us. on whose consumers the Chinese export model came to depend At the. same time the ccp leadership aimed to graduate as swiftly as possible. from the export model to domestically driven growth through a gigantic. programme of internal investment From the early 2000s the physi. cal reconstruction of the country hundreds of new cities thousands. of miles of super highways power plants viaducts high speed trains. sucked in raw materials and inputs from states across the southern. hemisphere for whom China became a major trading partner Brazil. Argentina Venezuela Zambia Sudan Australia Indonesia In the pro. cess it emerged as a world beating builder of infrastructure throwing. up highways across Andean mountainsides and bridges between Indian. Ocean islands the contracts eased by cheap loans The new China shone. a bright light on the limits of us power the zones that structural adjust. ment left undeveloped the countries punished at Washington s whim. The financial crisis brought about a watershed in us China rela. tions A good part of Beijing s dollar reserves had been confidently. parked in Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac The discovery that they were. watkins US China 11, now disappearing in the credit meltdown came as a shock When. we were elated about the rapid growth in foreign reserves China had. un consciously fallen into a dollar trap one expert put it 6 Washington. took the mortgage makers into its conservatorship But this was only. one fire to put out Far more dangerous was the risk to the Atlantic. banking system as a whole The Federal Reserve set in place semi covert. currency swap lines with the central banks involved Russia and China. were excluded, For Washington the biggest geo political shock of 2009 came from. Japan where the opposition Democratic Party won a landslide victory. Its leader Hatoyama Yukio announced that the failure of the Iraq War. and the Wall Street crash showed that the era of us led globalization. was coming to an end and welcomed the coming age of multipolarity. Japan now recognized that the East Asian region was its basic sphere. of being It should aspire to regional currency integration with. China as a natural extension of economic growth with a new security. framework to match It demanded that the us shift from its enormous. military and naval base at Okinawa the southern island closer to Fujian. than to Tokyo commanding the Western Pacific and East and South. China Seas The Obama Administration mobilized its forces against. the plan By April 2010 Hatoyama had crumbled Obama s pivot to. Asia 60 per cent of American firepower would be based there was. set in train, Beijing s reaction to the financial crisis was two fold At diplomatic level.
the Hu Jintao government resolved to diversify its foreign policy While. Washington was still the key of the keys surrounding areas are the first. priority developing countries are the foundation multilateral forums. are the important stage Meanwhile Beijing combined an epic stimulus. package with an instruction to banks to double their lending targets. the overall effect estimated at nearly 20 per cent of gdp The central. authorities specified sectors where this should be spent by regional and. lower level governments health education low income housing digi. tal R D environmental protection and so on though much found its. way into misallocation speculative bubbles and murky loans. Yu Yongding director of cass Institute of World Economics and Politics speaking. in 2011 Cited in Jonathan Kirshner American Power after the Financial Crisis Ithaca. 2014 p 115,12 nlr 115, In the short term growth was restored through a sharp tilt towards the. soes and state protected financial sector that the World Bank deplored. behind the protection of reinforced capital controls Growing internal. debts rolled over between one state body and another were all the more. reason for China not to open its markets any further to Atlantic capital. A slowing economy and simmering popular discontent strengthened. the rationale for a political clampdown As overcapacity built up in the. domestic construction sector the Xi Jinping government gave strategic. form to the project of winning contracts abroad Announced in 2013. the Belt and Road Initiative would spread westward across Eurasia and. down to Singapore linking ports from Hambantota to Gwadar and. Djibouti along the continent s southern oceans Loans and invoices. could be arranged outside the dollar system At the same time American. observers began to sound the alarm about Chinese advances in digital. technology facial recognition and artificial intelligence fed by the data. streams from its vast online population, On one view the prc has been a classic example of uneven capitalist. growth driving the emergence of a new great power that was bound to. cause frictions for the existing partition of the earth But in 1914 the. European great powers were so evenly matched in military and eco. nomic strength that they could fight each other into the ground for four. years before one side prevailed Today the American imperium is so. vast so overweening in its demands that any fast rising power must. immediately grate against it Yet its military strength makes its over. throw impossible Either submission or the impasse of a long jolting. stand off must result, The Trump Administration has coarsened the tone of us relations. with China But Washington s policy shift from support to balance. and contain was already under way under Obama The rising tensions. between the two are once again asymmetrically determined though. it remains to be seen whether Xi will prove more belligerent than his. predecessors But such is the interdependency between them that many. of Washington s weapons may prove double edged Trade has increased. even as tensions have risen Trump s tariff war already threatens to hurt. watkins US China 13, domestic constituencies in the us with electoral and political weight. farmers bankers aerospace and machine tools companies whereas. the political system in the prc can more easily batten down domestic. dissatisfaction at belt tightening generated by foreign blockades The. Federal Reserve could whisk investment capital out of China by raising. interest rates but that would plunge the us and the rest of the world back. into recession Financial sanctions of the sort honed against Iran and. Russia and now being tested out on Huawei chief executives have. no blowback effects at home but put a strain on allies Even Germany is. resisting the latest tactics against Tehran Sabre rattling in the Taiwan. Straits or South China Sea would rally the Chinese population behind. Xi while alarming Wall Street American foreign policy on its present. course is driving Russia China and Iran into a de facto alliance. But China s options are even more constrained It cannot afford to dump. its dollars and lacks any equivalent of America s rich state alliance sys. tem What it can do is to avail itself of the traditional weapon of the. weak to agree but then do nothing That makes the greatest likelihood. a concertina pattern of drawn out attrition heightened periods of pres. sure alternating with d tente summit level agreements interspersed. with alarms and shadow boxing sudden crises over spy planes inter. ventions to fan or quell revolts The flashpoints are many. Yet the medium term direction of the Chinese state the largest in the. world remains hard to read This is principally because the character. of the state itself and the economy over which it presides are both so. opaque In this number of nlr we publish three contrasting perspec. tives on the relations between economy and state in China In The cpc. and the Ancien R gime Peter Nolan sets out the conception of the. role of market and of officialdom that informs the Xi Jinping regime s. approach drawing on the ideological resources of Confucianism In this. view state regulation with the ccp at its core is essential for shaping the. market to serve the population s needs Christopher Connery s Ronald. Coase in Beijing tracks the reform era in the footsteps of the Chicago. economist s How China Became Capitalist to discover instead a peculiarly. Chinese version of state enabled neo liberal culture taking root Finally. 14 nlr 115, Victor Shih in discussion with Robert Brenner offers a unified analysis.
of the role of the regime as steward of China s export led rise through to. its present attempts to steer the debt laden economy between the Scylla. of recession and the Charybdis of capital flight, Questions could be asked of each of them Nolan how close is the fit. between Confucian political economy and actually existing state practice. Connery does the sinified brand of neoliberalism that Coase applauded. exhaust Chinese realities Shih what are the politics of the economic. dilemmas with which the ccp is wrestling what contending forces are. in play inside and outside the Party As far as us China tensions are. concerned each perspective has a different implication Although as. he points out the outcome is still an open question the logical import. of Nolan s reading would be that the fundamental alterity of the prc s. economic system will make these clashes inescapable In Connery s. case the us will have nothing to worry about as far as capitalism is con. cerned though it s right to be apprehensive on the score of economic. primacy Shih s account would imply that the very debt dependent. alterity of the Chinese system is the reason why the us has in truth. little to worry about in terms of either systemic challenge or economic. competition Three different logics then to inform thinking on the axes.


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