As the US was embroiled in disputes that defied all expectations about the election results, busy burying thousands of pandemic victims, and promoting magical vaccines, China managed to conclude the world’s biggest free trade agreement with its close and distant neighbors in November. Fifteen Asian and Pacific countries are party to the agreement, 10 in South East Asia, in addition to China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. More importantly, China, which has become the world’s factory, has ensured, with this agreement that facilitates trade that over one billion people and a third of global trade came under its wing. It dealt a decisive blow to India, which exited the negotiations. Chinese President Xi Jinping would not have succeeded in his years-long initiative and put America aside had it not been for Donald Trump’s abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had encompassed most of these countries in 2018. After that, because of Trumpist protectionism, they found themselves without a leader.
The precarious phase that the US underwent and the Trump administration’s tensions with Europe have also benefited China. Three weeks before Joe Biden was inaugurated, the two parties had come to a “comprehensive agreement on investment.”
The Europeans overlooked their dearest principles with the knowledge that their pressing demands for improving minorities conditions, solidifying human and worker rights would go down the drain. Realities imposed themselves on an unheroic and coerced EU. After the difficult months of the pandemic, China has become the old continent’s biggest trading partner as US trade faltered.
Africa is not outside China’s grip. It is still the continent’s largest investor and the holder of 20 percent of the black continent’s loans. This is aside from the expanding free trade route and the railway China has invested billions of dollars in.
What has the pandemic done? China has surely significantly benefited from all the news coming out there being taken as lie and propaganda although that’s not the case, its regime being considered dictatorial and keeping quiet about calamities, its flexibility in dealing with difficulties, and reopening factories. Democratic nations don’t like China. This point seems to have benefited the dragons, not obstructed their path. The world’s miscomprehension of China and its doubts about the country have allowed it to move more freely. No one wants to believe that there are only tens and sometimes hundreds of cases there while thousands contract the disease in other countries. China closed its airports, and its factories are working like beehives again.
Some sectors were indeed paralyzed, and they did lay off employees, like laborers producing bags, toys, shoes and clothes. But other fields, like medical tool production, technology and foodstuff manufacturing, are exploding at an unprecedented rate. The immensity of demand has left manufacturers unable to meet it because of the limitations on shipping and storing of the products.
While some call for defying the facts imposing themselves on the ground as the pandemic deals its blows, China carries on and disregards the yells coming from here and there. The French newspaper Liberation published a furious article written by European Parliament Member Bernard Guetta in which he demands that the agreement China imposed on the EU be rejected, not only because it is a dictatorial regime and it doesn’t respect human rights, but because the deal is uneven and primarily benefits China; it turns the old world into a front in the Chinese-American war, instead of leaving the Western world united against a communist state. However, nothing thus far, indicates that the member states will not ratify this agreement if the West’s economies continue to decline. Germany’s position in the trade war between China and America reinforces this view. It develops new links with factories and new interests with China every day, and it does not want to see its investments in peril.
China is expanding in all directions. It appears it will not leave even the north and south poles beyond its reach, as it knows that climate change will push towards these areas, and it has already began its projects there. While agriculture was the Maoist revolution’s backbone and its industrial revolution merely sought to provide automated support to hundreds of millions of farmers, the Chinese’ ambition is now to reach Mars, and they will not stop at that.
China wants to become “a leading innovator” by 2030 and “a leading global S&T power” by 2049, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s ascension to power. However, it has become common knowledge that China’s declared goals are always made less ambitious than its expectations to avoid potential gloating at its expense.
Amid this accelerating trade march, Le Monde describes China as the “global economy’s bulldozer.” It decided to inform its readers about what is happening in the country over five days through field investigation and with numbers that are beyond doubt. The sober-minded newspaper found that China is moving forward while others lag behind. With the end of a disastrous year for humanity, China managed to boost its GDP by two percent during a year in which everyone lost out. If the current state of affairs persists, the US will be preoccupied with confronting the worst health crisis it has seen in 100 years while China, according to international estimates, will be able to grow its economy by eight percent. This would allow it to surpass the US in just seven years.
Bad news en masse, then, for admirers of democracy. But ordinary citizens don’t care much in light of the prioritization of overcoming employment, defeating hunger and staying alive, a daily challenge to hundreds of millions.