Politics: East and West Concerns
I bet like me, a lot of you have being fascinated and concerned with the flexing of political muscles between East and West. I, for one, have always believed the USA was the ultimate superpower, followed by Russia, Germany and China. Space and sport used to be the old measures of power, but dominance in technology is now deemed to be the real weapon of choice. Russia is trying hard, but China has the edge in terms of technology.
Over the lockdown not only have we had to cope with the health and economic uncertainties from the pandemic, but Covid-19 has seemingly also caused a shift in power between East and West. The yardsticks for my analysis are evident from press briefings, Donald Trump’s tweets, interviews by Andrew Marr which I watched most Sundays, and my time spent reading the newspapers in lockdown. Trade wars between China and America - and even possibility of military conflict - seemed to be ever closer. Chinese colonialism seems to be increasing and with the new escalation of hostilities, the UK and other countries were caught in the middle.
From a health perspective, it appeared that deaths in Asia were less and the situation appears under control. Deaths in the West, however, were much higher and we were seen to be a bit confused and shambolic, with flip-flopping or U-turning strategies. For a time, the USA and Britain were seen to lead the world in terms of Covid-19 deaths, and many victims were BAME nurses, doctors and other front-line workers.
Why do I say there is a pending power shift? Well, in the West we were expected to be the most advanced and competent in dealing with Covid-19, and we certainly got a lot of positive statements from our Boris and his team about our preparedness and world-class plans to beat this disaster. Yes, I know the maxim that the first casualty in any war is truth and my old favourite about statistics - lies damn lies, and statistics - Seem to be very appropriate. So who was telling porkies?
Donald Trump sent the first salvo and accused China of creating Covid-19 in their laboratories; in fact, his tweets were quite provocative on many topics including race. China has steadily been building its infrastructure projects in many countries. Yes, I know they went to Jamaica to build roads, and they used their own workforce so our local people didn’t benefit economically from it. Additionally, Chinese government has been shown to be Authoritarian, with human rights abuses and reduced autonomy for some of their own citizens. Pictures of people with waiting to go to re-education camps were very unsettling.
Yet China sorted out its response to Covid-19 quickly, (I was quite impressed at how quickly they put up new hospital) and this has given them a boost. They have got back to their ‘new normal’ and seemingly a more stable economy and purchasing power. China is now threatening retaliation after Boris, following Donald Trump’s warning, stopped our contract for Huawei and the whole 5g network situation is still unclear.
The USA - rightly or wrongly – is not backing down from their claims that China needs to be watched. Ok, Donald and his pals seem to be a bit erratic in their response. Mr. Trump is losing voters; he needs a quick win to raise his popularity. His standing with a Bible in front of a church does not erase his remarks about race, his wish to send Troops to combat protesters after the George Floyd incident, and his abandoning of Obama’s good works.
So will the strategy to isolate China succeed? It’s questionable, perhaps only if this embargo can go on long term. Both superpowers will in reality have to talk to each other eventually.