Contributed by Joe Montero
The recent visit by China’s Xi Jinping to Moscow and his meeting with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin as an important event. On one side, it heralds a new level of the relationship between the two nations. On the other, it marks a new chapter in the realignment of global politics and power, and this will effect all nation, including Australia.
Wisdom suggests that taking note of this and its implications is a very good idea.
There are two very different interpretations. One peddled by the United States and its satellites is that China and Russia are trying to destroy the “rules based order” and take over the world, and they must be stopped. This has been broadcast loudly be most of the big corporate media in the nations where governments singing this song. They beat up about inevitable conflict and the prospect of war. In fact, its most zealous proponents are calling for war.
Just what it this rule based order? In reality it is a system where the West, principally the United States, position themselves as the custodians of civilisation, democracy, and freedom. Control over the rules and processes that administer economics, international trade, finance, politics, and military affairs was imposed.
illustration by Chen Xia/GT
Since Bretton Woods system was put in place in 1944, global trade has been administered by institutions that serve it. The two most prominent ones are the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Gold and the U.S. Dollar were cemented as the medium for international exchange. Those who did not sign onto Bretton Woods, or excluded, were locked out of the global economy. To be included meant to come submit to demands of the United States.
Today’s champions of the rules-based system are really calling for a continuation of this system and defending the interests of the dominant power.
There are echoes of nineteenth and twentieth century colonialism here. The existing rules system benefits some at the cost of others and preserves the right of a few to interfere in the concerns of others.
The meeting between Xi and Putin was one more signal that this is coming to an end. Besides economic and political cooperation between them, a big part of the visit was to signal a joint effort to champion what they call a multipolar global system. This means one where no one power dominates, and all nations are regarded as equal, respected, and have a voice. an implication is the need to build new institutions to implement this through mutual cooperation and nor imposition.
A multipolar world means equality between nations
Here is the threat. The West doesn’t want to even mention the idea of a multipolar world. This is the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy and freedom. As the dominant power, the United States is the guiltiest of this hypocrisy. Is not the essence of democracy and freedom supposed to be equality without discrimination? The concept of a multipolar world suggests democracy and freedom in the relations between nations.
But the sun is starting to set on empire.
China’s 12 point peace plan for Ukraine was discussed in Moscow. It emphasises a diplomatic solution, around recognition of all concerns of both sides of the conflict and working for the best solutions. Russia has accepted it. The United States and its satellites have rejected it out of hand. They prefer to continue the proxy war at any cost.
Another important part of the talk between Xi and Putin was about moving away from settling international payments using the current dominant U.S. Dollar and using the China’s Yuan and Russia’s Ruble. Trade between the two nations is already at $US200 billion a year and set to grow much higher. There is an even bigger picture. The Belt and Road Initiative currently involves 151 nations out of around 180, in an agreement to cooperate in trade and related infrastructure building. How long will it be before other nations start to move away from the U.S. dollar?
Illustration from Global Times
Continuing belligerence from the United States and its satellites is likely to push other nations into moving away. They are already disadvantaged by the current system, and a doable alternative will be attractive. There is already pressure to change global financial and banking structures, and there is less dependency on American investment.
Trade outside the Bretton Woods system is growing in all continents. This means the waning of United States economic muscle. because the United States economy depends on investing overseas, this is a disaster for its dominant corporations, and the reason for the insistence on containing China’s and Russia’s growth and influence. This is the driver towards war.
Like for other nations, Australia’s future lies on how we respond to the inevitable change. We can either cling to the dying empire or embrace the new emerging word of equal nations.