ALI AL-SABAH WRITES — Two hundred years ago, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte famously remarked that “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep for when she wakes up she will move the world.”
The potential, the sheer will of the people, and the challenge that the country posed were not so evident until recently, but the sleeping giant has awakened and is beginning to challenge the world. Since China had a change in leadership from Mao in 1976, it has enjoyed more than a 2000% increase in its annual G.D.P, a feat unachievable by any other country. The government has had a growth rate of 12% annually in its military divisions (water, land, and air). The country has had over $300 billion in non-financial overseas investments.
The giant has awakened: In the past, the United States never saw China as a threat. The U.S.A viewed China as a source of cheap labor, better laws, and a vast land they could invest in and escape the stringent laws ratified in Congress. The result: large investments by many companies with the largest ten being from the car, airplane, shoe and most technological companies. The fact that the United States viewed China as a large investment hub means its value is visible to the international community.
The best example that the giant is awake and has become a challenge can be seen in the ongoing trade war. As a country, China has transcended the familiar ethos of being a communist country with a socialist market economy and communist ideologies. The government has adopted an approach that threatens the West and the rest of the globe. Communist state capitalism dictates market forces to allocate resources under the government’s macro-economic regulation and guidance. The shift in politico-economic models is a challenge to global capitalism.
Reactions to the challenge include western efforts to ban Huawei’s phone manufacturing, the 2020 May blacklisting, and the second round of tariffs. The reactions are economically justified, since China, if left unchecked, would probably cripple all American-based technological firms and dent the United States technology market in a swoop. The Chinese government’s move to be self-reliant by 2025 has rattled the technological market, with companies shifting out of China, and new companies now being formed in China will take the exiting players’ place — the phenomena being denoted in July at the Shanghai Stock Exchange, where a new tech-heavy stock board called STAR Market launched. Its portfolio included 25 new companies related to tech, resulting in the creation of 124 new billionaires.
China will shake the world; the idea to become self-reliant would create a shift in political power as we know it — a challenge to the existing order. It presents a challenge in investment and a challenge in technological advancements for the next century. The words of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte seem to have come to reality. But people do not want to believe that China has awoken and is ready to rule the world.
Ali Al-Sabah, from Kuwait, is an LMU senior political science major.