It is becoming increasingly apparent that the previously followed world order is now changing. The post-Cold War world is gone. ‘The end of history’, turns out, was not the end after all and the ‘New World Order’ is now old. We are stepping in a new era, with of course, old players but new directions.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the world was the United States’ oyster. The world was dominated by a single superpower. One that acted as a self-proclaimed global police officer, who was duty bound to spread their values of democracy, liberalism, and human rights around the world, at least in theory.
History has shown us that whenever a nation is in trouble they tend to isolate themselves from the world. The US economy is in danger of overheating and exploding in a financial crisis yet again; it has not fully recovered from the last crisis. It’s not doing well in Afghanistan. New militant organisations emerge every few years and the War on Terror does not seem to end. However, what it did do was make the public xenophobic and they chose a populist leader, which happens every time.
On the other hand, in the past three decades China has experienced tremendous growth. According to the World Bank, between 1981 and 2008, 600 million people have been elevated poverty. The country has also become the largest economy by purchasing power parity according to the International Monetary Fund. Now that they are doing better, the dragon wants to mingle with the world. They want to integrate, link, and maybe ultimately incorporate countries (emphasis on the ‘maybe’).
Many people, especially Pakistanis, look forward to the fall of the Western civilisation and rise of the middle kingdom. We now live in a westernised world; it is capitalistic, unfair and hosts a liberal world order full of double standards. But what will an easternised world look like?
Since President Trump came to office, we are reminded time and again that the US shall follow a realist policy of pure national interest. This is evident from Trump’s, what I like to call, ‘Pull-out diplomacy’. The list is quite long but the latest use of this fine tactic was seen when Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the US is pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Council to, let’s be real, please Israel. By shifting their embassy to Jerusalem, the country has shown that they are no longer a neutral arbitrator in that region’s conflict. Be it international relations, trade or climate change, it is clear that the US no longer wants to be the leader or the watchdog.
President Xi Jinping is eager to fill this vacuum. Last year, the Chinese leader formally announced China’s ambition to become the next superpower. They are rapidly increasing their military at home, abroad, showing leadership at international forums, and even trying to tackle climate change.
The crucial element of this ambition is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is the biggest infrastructure project in modern history, spanning over 60 countries; it aims to reshape global trade with China at its centre — a new world order.
The Chinese realise that in the globalised 21st century, this is the new great game. Good thing our friendship is higher than mountains and sweeter than honey. So sweet that we never ask, “so what’s happening in China?”
China is a neo-communist state with a one-party system and after President Xi eliminated the two-term policy, he is most likely to be president until he is alive. China has banned all social media, does not tolerate dissent and tries to micromanage the public.
Now taking a step further, the government is assigning every Chinese citizen a social credit score. A fluctuating Orwellian rating system based on citizen behaviour. According to a report, Xi’s crackdown on human rights is ‘the worst since Tiananmen square’ with intense crackdowns on Christianity and Islam. Christians have been told by the government to take down images of Jesus and hang portraits of President Xi instead! The Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang live under despotic surveillance and cruelty with over 800,000 stuck in re-education or concentration camps. Most of these prisoners are guilty of praying or holding the Quran in public.
Many people, especially in Pakistan, look forward to the fall of western civilisation and rise of the middle kingdom. Most of them think about it monetarily and strategically. We now live in a westernised world; it is capitalistic, unfair and hosts a liberal world order full of double standards. But what will an easternised world look like?
The writer can be reached at email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, June 27th 2018.