The internal crisis in Washington weakens the US in the face of the real threat: China

The scarring suffered by the symbolic places of American democracy has once again evoked the scenarios of "civil war" that many had mentioned after the last and very tormented presidential elections. After all, in a recent interview, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama stressed that the extreme political polarization of American society leads us to believe that this is a possible outcome, although he hopes that it will not occur.

In fact, Fukuyama also speaks of the survival difficulties of authoritarian regimes such as, for example, the Chinese one. It is a fact, however, that the incredible scenes of the assault on the Capitol in Washington encourage the aforementioned authoritarian regimes to continue their repression with impunity.

All intent on following what was happening in the American capital, the major international press paid very little attention to the latest wave of arrests that Beijing made in Hong Kong in the same days. 53 democratic activists, including all protest leaders, ended up in prison, and many of them will be transferred to prisons of the People's Republic.

The Chinese leadership did not hesitate to compare the assault on the Capitol with the occupation of the Parliament of the former British colony by pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. By making it clear that, in the eyes of Beijing, there is no difference between the two events.

Waiting for the new president Joe Biden to demonstrate how he intends to deal with the explosive situation that has occurred in the United States, dictatorships of all kinds have seized the ball to repeat their usual litanies, which can be summarized in a few points: ( 1) liberal and representative democracy does not work; (2) riots, whatever their origin, must be faced and suppressed by force; (3) law and order are enforced only by using brute force.

It is obvious that the 53 arrests in Hong Kong mark the definitive end of the hope of maintaining – at least within certain limits – the autonomy of the former colony which, according to the pacts, was to be guaranteed until 2047. But they also tell us that it will always be more It is difficult, if not impossible, to set up the discourse on "human rights" with dictatorships, a theme that Biden, like Obama before him, considers fundamental.

America therefore finds itself weaker in comparison with dictatorial regimes. Since the latter now feel authorized to respond to the criticisms addressed to them by noting precisely that America is in a chaotic situation. And that is enough to invite her to solve her own internal problems, without dealing with what happens outside her borders.

In fact, the tragic events in Washington have made everyone understand that truly subversive groups have taken hold and grown dramatically in the United States. It would not be honest, however, to overlook that a strong subversive charge also characterizes the numerous formations of the radical left, often not criticized sufficiently by Democratic exponents. And, remember, they are all – on the right and on the left – armed to the teeth, given the relative ease with which firearms can be purchased in the US.

During the last elections there have already been serious clashes, with deaths and injuries, between groups of opposite tendencies, which makes the proposal to weaken the police forces by cutting the funding assigned to them at least strange. And there is little hope that the agreement – finally reached – on the peaceful transition between the outgoing and incoming presidencies will significantly diminish the palpable tension that is felt in many large US cities.

All this would be less important if the US were any country, perhaps used to resolving its internal disputes by force. But it is, instead, the nation that is still the leader of the liberal and democratic West, and therefore a point of reference for all those who, like the citizens of Hong Kong, struggle to preserve their political and personal freedom.

The entire world order, already crippled and in crisis, contrary to the expectations of most, will therefore be affected after the end of US-USSR bipolarism. As mentioned above, all that remains is to wait for the moves of the new president Joe Biden who, in addition to the dangerous internal tensions, will also have to face the global challenge that China has launched to the United States, having a deeply divided nation behind it. .

And that's not all, since the Chinese and Europeans adopt strategies that, in fact, accentuate the isolation of the United States. After years of inconclusive negotiations, the European Union and the People's Republic have signed a memorandum of understanding that promises to relaunch economic and trade relations between Beijing and Brussels in the coming years. The terms, of course, are still vague, but no doubt with this move the Chinese break their international isolation on the one hand, and on the other cause further difficulties for the US.

Remember that China, after the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic in Wuhan, seemed to be stalled. Accused by the rest of the world for the lack of transparency in information on the origins of the epidemic, and harshly criticized by Western countries for the lack of respect for human rights in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang of the persecuted Muslim Uyghurs.

The memorandum signed with the EU will most likely reactivate the “New Silk Road” project that the pandemic crisis had overshadowed. Also noteworthy is the success that Beijing can boast in the Pacific with the signing of another mega-treaty, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement aimed at reducing interstate duties and promoting trade. Surprisingly, traditional allies of the US and the West such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand participate.

Incoming President Joe Biden will therefore face double isolation. On the one hand, in the decisive chessboard of the Pacific, where the allies have privileged economic and commercial factors to the detriment of purely political ones. It will be recalled, in fact, how strong were the accusations made against China by Australians, New Zealanders and Japanese regarding Hong Kong's anti-democratic repression. The former British colony has in fact been abandoned by the West, which prefers not to irritate Beijing too much to encourage the development of economic and trade agreements.

The second isolation is located in Europe where, after Brexit , the European Union seems less and less sensitive to US calls for caution. There is already talk, for example, of re-admitting the Chinese company Huawei to the colossal 5G deal after that, under pressure from Trump, this company was strictly excluded due to its close relations with the Chinese army and Communist Party. Angela Merkel, fearing that the German GDP would be too damaged by the cooling of relations with Beijing, imposed a change that was immediately welcomed by all EU partners . Including Italy, whose industries are closely linked to the German ones also as regards exports to China.

Let's say, in short, that business reasons have prevailed everywhere, both in Asian capitals and in European ones. The People's Republic has acquired positions of strength in the economic and commercial fields that are such as to recommend a prudent policy so as not to damage the various national economies. Political criticism of the Chinese dictatorship will continue, but without practical consequences for business development. Therefore, Hong Kongers, Uighurs and Tibetans should make do as business is more important.

At the same time, other Asian nations that fear Chinese expansionism, for example Vietnam and the Philippines, have also signed the aforementioned RCEP treaty, proving that economic relations with Beijing are difficult to ignore. The same applies to the many European countries which, despite having critical positions towards China, have signed the treaty that binds it to the EU.

All this in spite of the manifest American hostility, expressed openly by Trump and now also shared by Biden. The fact is that, in the United States, the last elections have caused a trauma that risks becoming a serious threat to the US global leadership . A new phase of world order could therefore open up, with the European Union equidistant from the US and China, but closer to the latter in economic and commercial terms. A development that, before the pandemic crisis, was difficult to foresee.

The post The internal crisis in Washington weakens the US in the face of the real threat: China appeared first on Atlantico Quotidiano .

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Wed, 13 Jan 2021 05:05:00 +0000.