China: the emerging ideological struggle of the 21st Century


The new world order that China’s ruling Communist party is constructing with frightening rapidity and success is deceptively dangerous because economic and political subjugation of the rest of the world is not their explicit goal, but simply an unavoidable consequence, that they insist on denying, of their ascension to the top, notes Evan Ellis, a research professor of Latin American Studies at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

There are five ways in which a China-centric will arguably differ from a Western-centric one, he writes for Global Americans: [a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy]:

  • First, the location of professional and economic opportunities will be increasingly skewed toward the PRC. Sustained trade surpluses with the PRC are gradually transferring capital into the hands of Chinese institutions, while Chinese companies are controlling increasing portions of economic activity across a broad range of sectors, reaping the associated returns to capital, and making decisions about whom to hire, which companies to use in their supply chains, and where to locate management, design and high-value added production.
  • Second, freedom of expression regarding matters of interest to Chinese companies and the Chinese government will likely suffer in a China-dominated world order. ….Latin American governments courting trade with and loans and investment from China are obliged to publicly affirm adherence to the “one China” policy, and arguably feel implicit pressure to avoid provocative actions, such as official meetings with Tibet’s Dalai Lama, or criticizing China’s human rights practices or aggression in the South China Sea…
  • Third, a China-dominated world order will expand corruption in the business dealings of nations in the periphery, even while public corruption in the PRC itself comes under ever stricter control. The PRC strategic interest in maintaining in power anti-U.S. leaders (who are, by definition, more dependent on Chinese resources), will promote corruption; Chinese loans and investment often occur behind closed doors and help to make those leaders independent of democratic institutions and public accountability. …
  • Fourth, a China-dominated order will likely feature more authoritarian governments. Although the U.S. has sometimes aligned with undemocratic regimes in the Americas, its official policy, and the expectation of the U.S. public, is to support democracy. By contrast, although China officially supports democracy, it has funded and tacitly supported undemocratic regimes (including blessing May 2018 sham elections in Venezuela), both because they strategically benefit China in advancing a “multipolar” world order as counterweights to U.S. influence and because those regimes confer particular economic benefits on the PRC…
  • Finally, a China-dominated world order will arguably weaken the regime of international law and meaningful authority by smaller states in international institutions. …