Mikhail Khazin (Russia)
The idea of “divide and conquer” is very simple. Someone owns a unique resource and arranges an intense competition for access to it. US domination has been based on a very simple resource—access to demand by US citizens—which lets those who have it reap enormous profits. By exploiting that resource, the United States could solve any regional conflict because there was always the possibility of giving the “injured party” additional sources of income. And everything was fine, especially after the disappearance of the USSR, which had created an alternative model.
But later, problems began to develop: the crisis continues, aggregate demand in the United States is going down, and the US share of world demand is dropping. In other words, there is less of the resource that American domination is based on. But that is not even the main issue because things are bad for everybody. The main problem is that the tool used to solve regional conflicts has stopped working. Moreover, the United States is facing a terrible danger as its foreign “candy” disappears: old enemies whose bad relations were carefully cultivated by the United States have begun looking for common ground. Also, they are starting to seek new resources for their own development, and that includes forcing the United States out of their areas of common interest.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting of Asian countries in Hanoi. And what did they talk about? First of all, they favored expanding mutually beneficial cooperation and maintaining peace and tranquility along the border. Wen said that there is enough room in the world for China and India to develop jointly, and there are also quite a few areas in which the two countries can cooperate. Cooperation between China and India, ancient countries with huge populations, will have a significant impact on the entire world, so they need to maintain friendly relations, enhance political trust and work constantly to strengthen the Chinese-Indian partnership and strategic cooperation.
That is a kick in the teeth for the United States. In fact, China has suggested ending the numerous conflicts that have been virtually unavoidable for the two regional leaders because they have other more important and urgent tasks.
But we shall see what happens. Wen went on to say that China intends working with India to expand areas of bilateral cooperation and seek a new model for interaction in order to facilitate the continued growth of trade and investment between the countries. Wen also called for increased contacts and coordination to solve such global issues as reforming the international financial system, combating climate change, ensuring energy and food security, preventing and mitigating the consequences of natural disasters, fighting terrorism and protecting the interests of developing countries.
Oh, yes! China invited India, first and foremost, to work on global issues, not regional. And secondly, to solve problems between the two of them, without “big brother.” He also said that they can and should rebuild the system of political, economic and geopolitical relations because—he didn’t say this, but it is obvious from the context—the old, US-centric system is worthless.
And Wen got a response. Manmohan Singh fully agreed and pointed out that Indian-Chinese ties have evolved continuously over the 60 years since diplomatic relations were established and brought real benefits to both countries and to their peoples. India and China are friends and partners, not rivals. The Indian government attaches great importance to the development of relations with China and is prepared to work with China to improve high-level contacts and consultations at various levels and expand mutually beneficial cooperation and concerted actions in international and regional affairs. India welcomes investments by Chinese businessmen and encourages its own businessmen to invest in the Chinese economy.
That is, India is prepared not just to work with China but also to abandon its position of many decades standing that China in all of its political manifestations is its rival and even its enemy. That approach is quite impossible if the two countries are viewed only in the context of South and Southeast Asia—but it is understandable if the “container” they are in expands greatly… Very greatly.
So in conclusion—purely on matters of protocol: the two heads of government were of one mind about the need to maintain peace and tranquility along the border. China and India took each other’s interests and concerns into account and made an effort to find a just and comprehensive way of solving the border issue in a spirit of peace, friendship, equality, consultations, mutual respect and understanding. In plain English—“We agree on everything, so there’s no need to worry.”
In general, meetings like this one are costly and to some extent disastrous to US foreign policy. China and India are not simply the largest countries in the world (population wise, at least). They are also the only countries in the world today that can build a serious division-of-labor system with a sufficiently high level of technology based on their domestic markets. They are the only two countries that do not need the resource by which the United States conquered the world. Of course, China and India will not abandon that resource—they can still make use of it. But there is no doubt that the world’s geopolitical situation will now undergo a major and rapid change.
Mikhail Khazin is a Russian economist, social commentator and political analyst.
Source: New Eastern Outlook