Western Elites’ Contempt for China Turns to Panic

Western Elites’ Contempt for China Turns to Panic, by Spengler.

A sense of resignation, if not outright defeatism, pervades the Trump White House where China is concerned. …

Not since the British garrison at Singapore surrendered to Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita in 1942 has Western opinion of an Asian power changed so fast. When China’s 2015 stock market bubble popped, prevailing Western opinion held that China’s economic boom would flame out in a debt crisis comparable to America’s subprime disaster of 2008 or the near collapse of Europe’s southern tier in 2013.

Now that China’s tradeable stock market has risen by 43% during 2017 in US dollar terms (with the MSCI-based ETF as a benchmark), Western opinion is melting up. …

The same applies to Western evaluation of China’s standing as a world power. Graham Allison’s The Thucydides Trap, a plea not to oppose China’s strategic challenge to the United States, now sits on the desk of every senior staffer at the National Security Council courtesy of President Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMasters. …

Allison’s book … depicts a vibrant, technologically-driven Chinese economy. It will shock Americans who have been told for years that China merely copies Western technology by stealing trade secrets, and for that reason alone Prof. Allison’s book fairly might be called the most influential book of the year.

Washington is dependent on Beijing in the matter of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions; it has no military option as matters stand, and no appetite to undertake the formidable investments in ballistic missile defense that would be required to contain the North Korean threat. …

Technology matters, and the West peaked around the time of the moon landings. We bureaucratized and socialized scientific research with grants from big government, and have succumbed to idiocies like the carbon dioxide theory of global warming. Only the electronics and software industries stayed almost completely in private hands.

America produced every important invention in the digital age, from integrated circuits to semiconductor lasers, solar cells, flat panel displays, sensors and light-emitting diodes. Except for integrate circuits, Asia now produces virtually all the world’s output of these building-blocks of the electronics industry, and China has a crash program underway to become the world’s major producer of semiconductors.

To my knowledge, the only senior adviser to President Trump who proposed to stop this practice was Steve Bannon, who left the White House in August. Interfering with US companies’ tech transfer to China would hurt revenues in the short- and medium-term. US companies are making a good living on the rise of China, and CEO’s worry about their stock price during the next five years, not about America’s competitive position in 10 years.

Western analysts in general dismissed China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). During the past year, though, new rail lines have lined China to Iran, Turkey and from there to Western Europe, drastically reducing the time and cost of shipping across the Eurasian continent. Two rail links to Iran are now in operation. …

Turkey plans to become a cashless society by 2023, using the Chinese example and Chinese technology. China now makes 90% of the world’s smartphones. Its low-cost handset producers stand to dominate emerging markets.  …

Suddenly, from the South China Sea to the Bosporus, the United States cannot move without brushing up against Chinese influence, if not outright Chinese power. It’s not quite the same as Yamashita’s march across the Malaysian jungle. But if anything, the fecklessness, complacency and incompetence of America’s leaders exceeds the fabled stupidity of the British at Singapore.

hat-tip Stephen Neil