Has China already won?

Has China already won?
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Last week, President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE convened the first in-person Quad Leaders' Summit, bringing together leaders of Japan, India and Australia to discuss and coordinate efforts toward maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. Topics ranging from vaccines and semiconductors to space technology were discussed and agreed upon by the four nations. 

The Quad grouping, dubbed to be an anti-China coalition of nations, has been slow to form consensus and find policy convergence. And this lethargy has cost America. 

China has been anything but slow. China’s wolf warrior diplomats have done the communist nation’s bidding abroad and have been winning friends in places where Americans are shunned. Most recently, China moved swiftly into Afghanistan and offered millions in aid to the newly formed Taliban government. It has promised to assist and support Afghanistan’s growth under the Taliban. For the Taliban, this is a welcome gesture, as the world has not made up its mind on reacting to the theocrats' rise to power. 

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By mending fences with the Taliban, China is unlikely to face any resistance to the Belt and Road Initiative, the trillion dollar connectivity strategy that runs across five continents in Central Asia. While America does not have a single reliable ally in Central Asia, China has warm relations with all of them. 

Moving further West to the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia are the only steadfast allies of the U.S. in the region. However, even though the two rely on the U.S.for aid and weapons, they have been warming up to China. For Saudi Arabia, China’s large market for its oil and the potential inflow of investment into its oil major ARAMCO make antagonizing China an undesired endeavor. Similarly, Israel has welcomed Chinese investment. China is Israel’s second largest trading partner and Israel continues to seek more partnerships with the Chinese government. 

This pattern of using trade and aid to win friends, also known as economic statecraft, has aided China in winning friends in unlikely places. From Southeast Asia, to Africa, even to America’s backyard, the Caribbean, China plays an outsized role in the internal affairs of these nations. Through cheap debt and lucrative investment opportunities, small nations are lured into deals that are hard to get out of once signed. 

At the G7 meeting convened earlier this year, Biden introduced the Build Back Better World also known as B3W to take on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Though, that was too little too late. The centralization of power in China gives it tremendous autonomy to implement measures at a scale that is not possible in a messy democracy such as the U.S. In the U.S., such an initiative requires the collective effort of multiple state departments and warrant approvals from different stakeholders. These levers that are supposed to strengthen a democracy, however they slow down the implementation of measures and wither away the United States’ competitiveness on the world stage to take on a centrally planned initiative such as Belt and Road. 

Furthermore, the U.S. has engaged in more talk than action with regards to China. Whether it’s under Biden or Trump, Wall Street continues to prioritize the Chinese market. Back when Trump was chiding “China, China, China,” and Peter Navarro going on Fox talking about the China threat, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' MORE was in Beijing trying to persuade the Chinese to open their markets for American goods. This double speak has been going on for the past 20 years, from Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBill Clinton shares video update after release from hospital Biden, Democrats risk everything unless they follow the Clinton pivot (they won't) Giuliani picks Abe Lincoln filter for attack against McAuliffe MORE to Biden. 

Wall Street and America’s corporations will not give up on the market of 1.4 billion consumers that China offers and as witnessed over the past 20 years, they’d rather ship jobs overseas and destroy communities in America if shareholders would gain value through investments in China. 

Americans need to see through the smokescreen that politicians in cahoots with corporations have created. If not, American society will continue to decay while China becomes richer by the day.  

Akhil Ramesh is a non-resident Vasey fellow at the Pacific Forum. He has worked with risk consulting firms, think tanks and in the blockchain industry in the United States, India and in the Philippines. His analysis has been published in The South China Morning Post, The Diplomat, Asia Times and the Jerusalem Post. Follow him on Twitter: @akhil_oldsoul