Unfollowing events in Washington and Beijing raise the troubled specter of a global passing of the torch from the United States to China, which has horrifying implications for freedom and democracy.
At first, President Donald Trump seemed to Applause from afar As China’s leaders consolidate their power over a more authoritarian government at home, the regime promotes its model of increasingly aggressive governance abroad. Second, Trump announced that he would slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum and welcome a trade war that most of the world, and most of his own Republican Party, does.
These events may seem unrelated, but they are in fact in favor of the same coin, as they both indicate an American retreat from defending the Western liberal order of free market capitalism and democratic government that has led to decades in the world Did a lot to nourish. War II.
Let’s take them all at once.
In Beijing, the Communist Party is amending the Constitution of China to abolish presidential boundaries, enabling Xi Jinping to remain party chief and Chinese president as long as he prefers and thus , Become the most powerful leader of China since Mao.
The Communist Party, in turn, is increasing greater control over the basic areas of Chinese society, including government, military, and private sector. With the West rostered by Partition, Chinese officials are also promoting their country’s governance model – the “China Solution” as an option for the wider world.
This option provides less opportunity for free expression. Beijing, which has put up a great firewall to restrict Chinese viewing online, is expanding its efforts. At home, it is monitoring social media tools like WhatsApp and retaliating against those who criticize the government.
Political cartoon on economy
Abroad, it is pressuring companies such as Google and Facebook – both of which are blocked in China – to remove content accessible to the Chinese diaspora and others outside its borders that Beijing considers abusive. It is similarly pressuring foreign companies that sell their products in China; German carmaker Daimler Apologized last month The Mercedes-Benz brand used Instagram to quote the Dalai Lama, after which Beijing considers it a threat to promote Tibet’s independence.
At a closed-door fundraiser in Florida over the weekend, Trump said of China’s development, praising Xi’s power grab. “He is now president for life,” he said. “President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think that’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give it a shot someday.”
Making fun of it all, Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs of 25 and 10 percent respectively last weekend, while Xi’s top economic adviser, Liu He, Trump in the White House to ease US-China trade tensions Was meeting with the economic team of. Trump’s charges would clearly curtail those efforts.
But when China is the world’s largest steel producer, it provides just 2 percent of America’s steel imports, and Beijing criticized Trump’s move only in a muted tone. The outrage expressed so far by Canada (the largest foreign supplier of steel and aluminum in the US) and allies in Europe, which promised vengeance. Administration officials have since clarified that the tariffs will apply to all countries, although they raised the possibility that companies may seek an exemption for certain products.
In reply, Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the European Commission, promised that Europe would slap tariffs “on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon, and on blue jeans”, while a prominent Canadian trade expert suggested that his country would turn to alcohol Targets. More sinister than tit-for-tate detail, however, has its broader implications.
“With this,” said Bernad Lang, a German Social Democrat who runs the Trade Committee of the German Parliament, “the declaration of war has arrived.” [the United States] There is a mercantile trade model, which is 200 years old. “
Stocks scattered in Trump’s footsteps reflect investors’ concerns about where US policy is headed. Finally, after Trump arrived in late January, the steel and aluminum tariffs said he would begin enforcing his “America First” trade policy by slapping tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, which not only Chinese and South Koreans Affects manufacturers, but also those. Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Together, all these developments bolster the uneasy question of whether the tectonic plates of global power are being shifted, with Beijing poised to exert greater influence in its region and one at the expense of Washington, in contrast to Beijing , Who doesn’t understand what’s at stake.