Failure of US Containment: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Makes History
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
March 25, 2015
Executive Summary: Globalization and the Internet are blurring the boundaries between West and East. International politics and international power will be increasingly dependent upon realpolitik rather than ideology. Britain, France, Germany, and Italy rushing to join the AIIB is a manifestation of this phenomenon. Under the circumstances, will Taiwan raise the barrier between the two sides? Will it cut off relations with the World Island? The STA, MTA must be approved as soon as possible. Every agency of the ROC government should be thinking about how to join the AIIB.
Full Text Below:
Let us recall some history. In 1793, Lord Macartney, the British special envoy to Beijing, refused to kneel before
Emperor Qianlong on the latter's birthday. The implication was that China was in decline. In 2015 however, in defiance of US objectiions, Britain chose to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), headquartered in Beijing. Is the implication that China is now ascendant?
Britain has never been a nation ruled by ideology. She has long practiced realpolitik. Her policies invariably favor commercial interests. Two Opium Wars during the 19th century humiliated China. But for the British, they merely cleared the way for trade. Today, despite powerful opposition from her staunch Anglo-Saxon ally, she has decided to join the AIIB. She has relied on old-fashioned business sense, and sniffed out the astonishing commercial potential of the AIIB and “One Belt, One Road”.
Britain ignored US opposition and joined the AIIB. This makes it a landmark event. The US postures as the global hegemon. Last year, when Beijing announced its intention to establish the AIIB, the US categorically opposed any of its allies joining. The EU, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, having been warned, all did nothing. On March 12, however, Britain defected, and the situation changed overnight. To everyone's surprise, the staunchest members of "Team America" were first to break rank. Britain led, followed by Germany, France, and Italy, all running for the door. Luxembourg and Switzerland, two little financial giants, followed in the footsteps of the Big Guy. Without a trace of embarrassment, they joined the ranks of “Team China”.
Strategic analysts the world over regard this as a major geopolitical event. This was not merely a diplomatic defeat for United States. This hinted at an historical trend. This suggests that the US hegemon's China containment strategy will probably fail.
The US boycotted the AIIB for a very superficial reason. It hinted darkly that “AIIB lending standards may be too low, resulting in risk." But as former US Treasury official Ted Truman noted, if the US hopes to influence the AIIB, it must be inside the tent, not outside. Put bluntly, this is all part of a long term Sino-US struggle for hegemony, one that is ending in US defeat. The United States is attempting to use the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) to shut Mainland China out. That is another way of excluding Mainland China. That is the next battle, one in which the outcome remains hard to foresee.
The AIIB incident has yet another meaning. It represents a geopolitical tectonic shift. The century old "European-American alliance" shows signs of fracturing. By contrast, Europe and Asia show signs of coming together. Beginning with Marco Polo in the 13th century, "Eurasia" was equated with “the world”, with a "world island". By the end of the 19th century however, the United States was reunified in the wake of the Civil War. It abandoned isolationism and participated in European affairs. Europe and America merged into "The West”. By contrast, Asia remained under colonial subjugation, and was plunged into darkness.
Over the past 20 years however, Mainland China and India have re-emerged and caught up. Formerly backward Asia, once again leapt onto the world stage. The "One Belt, One Road” paradigm has reconnected India and Mainland China with Europe by means of an historic "Silk Road". The AIIB attempts to build a even more powerful "World Island” financial mechanism, linking Europe and Asia. The European nations saw the cultural and economic implications, and did an abrupt about face.
Years from now, when the "world island" has been successfully formed in accordance with the two Silk Roads blueprint, the world will consist of a "World Island" and an "American Island". When the time comes, Mainland China will not necessarily be the World Island chief. She has many internal defects, including an authoritarian political system. She may not be able to create an entirely new model. But she will play an important role. By then, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Mainland China, India and Russia will form one team, while Team America will boast only the US, Canada and Brazil.
The tide is putting several East Asian members of "Team America" to the test. As we look to the future, the awakened World Island comes as a shock. Will Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan cling to their Cold War mentality? Will they persist in their attempts to contain Mainland China? Will they align themselves with the nearby World Island, or with Team American thousands of nautical miles away? Will they resign themselves to being America's Kinmen, Wuqui, and Matsu?
Globalization and the Internet are blurring the boundaries between West and East. International politics and international power will be increasingly dependent upon realpolitik rather than ideology. Britain, France, Germany, and Italy rushing to join the AIIB is a manifestation of this phenomenon. Under the circumstances, will Taiwan raise the barrier between the two sides? Will it cut off relations with the World Island? The STA, MTA must be approved as soon as possible. Every agency of the ROC government should be thinking about how to join the AIIB.
2015-03-25 02:25:57 聯合報 聯合報社論