United States political meltdown hands China advantage


The current political meltdown in the United States of America, underscored by a messy transition following disputed elections last November, means that the US might have surrendered global leadership in major questions of 2021 and beyond.

By Kuda Bwititi

It’s undeniable that the US has its tail firmly stuck between its legs. 

With stiff competition from China in the battle for the coveted crown of the world’s biggest economy, it is inevitable that when Washington sneezes, Beijing seizes. 

This situation will reverberate across the globe, including in the developing world.

In its ongoing imbroglio, the US is not just too preoccupied with domestic affairs as Joe Biden  who will be sworn in on January 20  will seek to steady the ship rocked by the untidy affair: the US has lost the moral authority to lead the world. It is like an emperor without clothes, shorn of the cover of democracy and supposed invincibility of its systems.

Coming on the back of President Donald Trump’s disastrous  “America First” policy, the burden that is now firmly on the back of Biden in global affairs is akin to a huge millstone on the neck of the new administration. There is little evidence that Biden will do better, either.

By contrast, China led by President Xi Jinping, looks ready to assert leadership as it has the grips on many major aspects of global statecraft and systems  a culmination of decades of hard work. It is the materialisation of what is dubbed the “New Era” in Beijing.

In October 2017, President Xi introduced the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. It is under this philosophy that all developments are taking place in China. Importantly, this espouses values and philosophies that are relevant to the world including countries such as Zimbabwe.

President Xi’s trilogy of books, “The Governance of China”, offer a comprehensive guide on the path China is taking and are a useful reference point in light of the questions that the world is facing today. 

The third volume is important in asserting what the “New Era” means for China and what it means for the world. 

According to a commentary, some of its key messages revolve around President Xi’s resolve between 2018 and 2019 that China should stay keenly alert to the “black swans” and “grey rhinos” events. These terms refer to unexpected events with potential to destabilise the world.

Questions of 2021 and beyond

The year 2021 is likely to be defined by how the world tackles the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, the disease had recorded 93,2 million infections and 2 million deaths, with 51,4 million recoveries. The United States itself is leading in infections and fatalities  23,4 million cases and nearly 400 000 deaths  while China managed to restrict the disease leading to about 88 000 cases and only 4 600 deaths. The US’ handling of the pandemic has been widely noted to be nothing but disastrous, while China navigated expertly to contain the disease that was first recorded on its territory in December 2019. 

In light of the global carnage of the disease, rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine has been the next frontier. Interestingly, while both China and the US were among the first movers in inoculating their populations, China is ensuring that developing countries in Africa and elsewhere will have access to the vaccine that it is producing, or are sponsored via the Covax facility at the World Health Organisation. By contrast, the US is leading rich countries in hoarding the vaccine, in what some observers have labelled as desperate and selfish attempts to compensate for America’s poor handling of the pandemic. Expectedly, several parts of the world now look up to China as the best option to help them through the pandemic in 2021.

Economically, China is claiming the global top spot, with economic data and projections showing it edging the US. In October, the IMF’s World Economic Output 2020 data showed that China had overtaken the US to become the world’s largest economy. 

The IMF used the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) as a yardstick, and put China’s economy at US$24,2 trillion compared to America’s US$20,8 trillion. Other indications showed that China was the first major economy to show a recovery from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, largely due to a series of stimulus measures, posting a positive economic growth rate in 2020, predicted to be 1,9 percent by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and two percent by the World Bank. 

On the other hand, China’s growth rate is expected to increase sharply in 2021 with the Oriental State’s GDP growth to be around 8 percent. 

Ironically, all this is happening after China withstood a trade war with the US.

In terms of climate and the environment, China is making sure that its growth is at no cost to the environment. 

China advocates for environmentally friendly growth that protects the world’s green environment, clear water, blue sky and clean soil. 

President Xi says China is fostering a culture of promoting eco-values: an economy highlighting eco-friendly industries and industrialisation of environmental protection activities; a responsibility system for achieving the goal of improving the eco-environment; a complete support system for ensuring eco-environmental protection through modernised governance; among other measures. 

This is a new approach  in which China takes responsibility for the environment more than at any time in history  asserts the Asian giant’s global leadership in a complex world at a time its competitor appears to be floundering. – Sunday Mail