That’s what Sovereign Man calls this depiction of international trade flows. It looks at how much trade the world did with the USA or with China, the first map reflecting the year 2000, the second twenty years later. Click the image for a larger view.
If there ever was a time when you could see a trend solidly in motion, now is it.
That the Western, previously civilized world is in decline has been known to anyone with an ounce of curiosity and little analysis of data points.
There’s more at the link, mainly concerned with technology companies and progress in both nations. The meat of the article, as far as I’m concerned, is the map above.
The real issue is the geopolitical reality these maps display. In 2000, the USA could use its dominant position in trade and international commerce to exert influence, even pressure, on other nations. If they did not act as the USA wished them to act, commercial pressures could be applied to help change their minds.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Any attempt to exercise such pressure on the part of this country can and will be countered by China exerting greater pressure, through its dominance of international trade, or simply by bribing other nations with loans, grants and other favorable gestures. Chinese loans often carry a sting in the tail, too: if the recipient nation fails to keep up the payments, China will specify certain national infrastructure that it gets to take over in lieu of payment. That’s how Sri Lanka lost control of its port of Hambantota; how Djibouti ceded control of much of its harbor to China; how Montenegro is currently facing having to give state-owned land to China in payment for its “highway to nowhere”; and is the underlying reason why Tajikistan ceded land to China along their disputed border.
A great deal of China’s investments in support of its so-called “Belt and Road Initiative” are more or less bribes to those in power in the nations concerned. Their people may not derive much – if any – benefit from them, but the rulers will get money in their pockets, and China will hold the whip hand over their economies from then onward. China has proved ruthless in advancing its interests in that way. However, one can’t really criticize them for that – the USA did exactly the same thing when it held the economic upper hand. It did so for over a century, including treating China itself like a poor relation and forcing concessions from it in the 19th and early 20th centuries. China has never forgotten the stigma of the “Century of Humiliation” and the “Unequal Treaties“. Its relations with other countries are probably motivated as much by revenge for those slights as by economic considerations.
If ever there was proof of the old saying that “what goes around, comes around”, it’s there. China is basically out to dominate – and, if possible, humiliate – any nation that won’t dance to its tune. That includes the United States. The map above shows that, on balance, China is doing just that. Its commercial and industrial influence now exceeds that of the USA on the world scene.
The worst thing of all, from an American perspective, is that our business leaders – our oligarchs, for want of a better word – deliberately worked towards this. They’re the ones who moved manufacturing offshore, seeking greater profits by making goods in markets with lower wage and transport costs. They built the factories that China is using today to extend its influence, basically handing to the Chinese the commercial hegemony they now exploit. America is now left holding the short stick, because we no longer have the industrial and commercial might that was the foundation for our influence abroad. We handed that to China on a plate, and the Chinese have taken full advantage. Don’t blame them for that, either – we would have done exactly the same thing if our positions were reversed.
So, when you look at the problems we’re currently encountering with a very screwed-up supply chain, consider them in the light of that map. That’s why we’re experiencing them – because three-quarters of our supply chain is out of our control, and very much in China’s control. To paraphrase President Obama, “we built that”. It’s our fault, on a national scale, for allowing our barons of commerce and industry to sell our economic prosperity out from under us for a mess of pottage. However, you’ll never get our politicians to admit that, or accept any responsibility for it. Being the finest politicians money can buy, many of them were long since bought by Chinese “contributions”. There’s plenty of evidence of that; I’ll leave you to look it up for yourselves.