Thursday, December 13, 2018

Is China a threat?

Shanghai, painted by my wife Aafke Steenhuis.
China is the buzzword in the news, in the conversations my wife and I are having in world ports, like recently in Los Angeles and before that, during summer, in Genoa. It's also the buzzword in conversations in many parts of the world, and in political arenas, when, usually, people express concern about the Chinese marching into global markets, conquering new acces in financial or goods markets, competing with local producers, creating new trade routes such as the new Silk Road to Europe, etcetera.

And then there is suddenly the recent international news about the financial director of Huawei being arrested and imprisoned in Canada, on the request of the USA, prompting me and my wife to discuss what is happening, with a light amazement about arresting someone in liberal democratic Canada on the accusal that she has not boycotted Iran while the USA has asked all nations and companies to do so.

This morning, I made clear to my wife what I thought about the arrest and imprisonment of the financial director and told her what I thought of the opinion expressed by many commentators of a Chinese threat, this time the threat of a Chinese company under control of the Chinese state, Huawei, who tries to get orders to build networks which the Chinese authorities can use to interfere and control and disrupt western societies.

What I did to illustrate my view, was to draw on our dining table a square in which global trade, global finance, global armies, global information networks, global politics, are active and where the international ideal is supposed to be one of free trade, free finance, restricted (or free?) armies, free information, free politics (and free espionage?), to then point to the remainder of the table and say that critical minds have to place themselves outside of this square and look with a distant and self-critical view at what is happening and whether or not you agree with certain assesments and concerns expressed by journalists, commentators and politicians.

This presentation of my view on the matter sounds abstract but that's how my mind functions.

I said more, this morning, and on earlier occasions too when we discussed the so-called Chinese threat with friends. I do not see what the Chinese are doing as a threat but as something rather normal in current world circumstances. I do not see much of a difference between what the Chinese are doing now and what the Europeans and their former colony the USA have been doing during various centuries. In other words, I try to 'deconstruct', as the French to say, today's news.

This post mainly serves to remind me of what I said this morning to my wife.


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