Emerging economies and realities: Despite their reliance, US keen on halting China’s economic influence


The recent Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing has once again highlighted the United States’ fervor for grandstanding acts of stealing the spotlight away from its rivals, or at least halting the advances of emerging economies and political powers beyond the Western hemisphere, whether it be at home or abroad.

Just a day before the APEC summit, US President Obama gathered participants to the US-led but China-excluded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) held in the US embassy in Beijing. The TPP is essentially a regional trade agreement that aims to undermine China’s own Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, which is a broader framework for bringing closer integration of Asian economies.

This display of intent comes at a time when the TPP is yet to resolve long standing issues that has halted it from becoming a fully functional economic bloc. There are still protectionist issues to be settled between Washington and Tokyo, for instance, and New Zealand’s intention to “pull out of the negotiations if politicians in the US used them as a vehicle to try to contain the rise of China.”

IMF and World Bank: Tired economic powerhouses

As the United States’ economic and military influence further erodes, the vacuum it is creating is more and more being filled by emerging powers consisting of China, Russia, Indian, and Brazil, which together in July 2014, account for roughly 20% of the world’s economy based on GDP and 30% based on Purchasing Power Parity, which is a more accurate measure of world economy. In July, BRICS proposed a $100bn New Development Bank to meet infrastructure and development projects at a time when the West continues to erode its role in global trade.

The ongoing shift in global influence from West to East has rendered the traditional economic clout of the West, through the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, unable to meet the enormous investments that are required by developing economies in the Asia Pacific region and Latin America. Indeed, both lending institutions have become hostage to their colonialist approach to development, such as in leadership, voting rights, capitalization, headquarters, and staffing, which are all dominated by the United States.

The perception that emerging economies are still heavily reliant on advanced economies for market access and demand is quickly coming to a pass. In its International Trade Statistics 2014, the World Trade Organization concluded that “more than half the exports from developing economies were sent to other developing economies in 2013.” It also revealed that “countries in Asia sent more than 60% of their exports to other nations in Asia and to Africa and the Middle East, compared with just over 15% each to North America and Europe.”

As has been observed in the past decade, this tectonic shift in global economic activity will only continue to progress to reach other economies not held hostage by the traditionally two-edged economic and political policies of the West.


Berlin Wall Politics: 25 Years Later


The past 25 years since the symbolic collapse of the Berlin Wall and the accompanying disintegration of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself has left many hopes unfulfilled and more fears realized. To the disappointment of many, the once euphoric atmosphere back then, stemming from the easing of East-West relations, has stayed only in that specific era.

The time marker may be 10, 15, 20, and now 25 years, but one thing has remained the same, the prime political situation in Europe remains: that of the continued antagonism between the West and Russia, especially because of the persistent expansion of NATO towards Eastern Europe and on to Russia.

The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, a man thoroughly celebrated in the West because of his openness and reform policies and perhaps the last remaining ‘elder’ of that significant era, may have expired his relevance in Russian politics and international relations, but what has remained constant is his correctly-judged observations about who’s to blame in the revival of East-West tensions in Europe and beyond.

Gorbachev, ‘Gorby’ as he was fondly called in the West back then, has been assured of a military block that will not expand ‘an inch’ to the Soviet sphere of influence. Contrary to mainstream Western literature, the term ‘influence’ was agreed upon by the victors of World War II, the most tangible evidence of which is the agreed division of Germany and capital Berlin, together with the rest of Europe. Today, NATO, the first pan-European military alliance established after the Great War, remains, while its counterpart, the equally formidable Warsaw Pact, has ceased to exist. Gorbachev and his communist allies in Europe knew that to achieve peace in Europe, the arms race must go, and with it a promise that NATO will remain at bay ‘where they are right now’ back in the late 1980s.

Since that fateful day of German reunification, NATO has expanded four times since 1999, adding not only former Warsaw Pact members but also former Soviet republics, and has committed itself to the destruction of Yugoslavia (which deeply hurt a weak Russia in the 1990s), the Western-backed secession of Kosovo, and today the unnecessary blood bath in Ukraine, on the Russian border itself.

It is unfortunate that the only remaining elder statesman of that era (which include Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul),only  Gorbachev has survived to tell how mistaken the situation in Europe has become because of the unchecked triumphalism and arrogance of leaders from the West has become, from crook American politicians John McCain to NATO’s top generals and EU plutocrats. The problem stems from how the West treats Russian national interests as irrelevant and similar to a deeply weakened and humiliated Russia in the 1990s.

An economic and military powerhouse today, Russia has stood in the way of continued Western bullying and disregard for ‘the rest’ opposite ‘the West’. From its reluctance to let Syria fall, to Ukraine’s destruction, Moscow has seen it fit to check this inexorable spread of bogus ‘democracy’ by getting in the way of the American habit of ‘regime change’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’. Indeed, Russia has come a long way since the dissolution of the USSR, and the time has come for the West to come to terms with a changing international order, one that has seen a multipolar world replace a once unipolar but abusive world lead by the United States.

Although talks of a new Cold War is in the air (some call it premature because of the lack of ideological differences), the wall that has deeply divided East and West relations is perhaps unparalleled in the past 25 years.  There is no comparable division that has existed since the end of the Cold War, from American-backed sanctions against Russia (insulating the US but harming the EU), treating Russia like a third-rate country (Russia’s nuclear weapons alone guarantee its weight in international relations), to increased encroachment of military spheres (the regular presence of American warships in the Black Sea, a Russian naval stronghold, and military aircraft patrols in former Soviet republics), to the relentless demonizing of Putin and Russia (Obama comparing Russia to Ebola), and the recent fear mongering against the Sochi Olympics.

As for Europe itself, it has become nothing but a tool of Washington’s arm to antagonize Moscow. It has become voiceless and surrogate to American wishes, perhaps making Gorbachev’s recent statement true, that “ instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. The consequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining moment. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant.”