OBOR,the new frontiers and the Chinese spirit

von Ralf Ostner

The West became famous for its worldwide expansion to the Americas, Africa, Asia. Columbus, Magelan, Vasco Gadama, Cook, Darwin, Humboldt, conquerers, scientists and adventurers who wanted to explore the world. The Northamericans saw an expansion to the West, the spirit of the „New frontiers“ became famous and a driver of human history. After WW2 the USA became the dominant power worldwide, the American way of life spread around the world, the West flourished and after the collapse of the Sovjetunion, Francis Fukuyama wrote his famous book „The end of history“and expert spoke of an „unipolar moment“for the USA. Globalization and the new economy hyped this Western hegemonic thinking. This lead to a hybris, a „the winner takes it all“-attitude which lead to the Iraq war, the financial crisis 2008 and the Ukraine crisis as the West thought that he could expand forever on the basis of the Washinton consensus, neoliberal ideology and military power. The West and its major power, the USA experienced what Paul Kennedy called in his book „The rise and fall of Great Empires“ „imperial overstrech“.

The mood in the West is not that much anymore a „New Frontier“spirit. Populism, the economic ands political crisis of democracy, the erosion of the EU, Trumpism and economic nationalism in the USA which questions the Western postwar institutions as NATO, IMF, Worldbank, WTO, EU have lead to an anxiety of the broad masses about the future and a nostalgic culture pessimism. Western companies just think in the categories of the next business quarter of their balance sheet and how much shareholder value they can get, Western democratic parties just think in very shortminded categories of the next election period, the only visionaries in the West are the entrepreneurs in the Silicon valley and French president Macron who announced a 10 point-plan for the reform of the EU, but there are no bold visions of the West for the world. The last geopolitical and visionary US strategist Brzezinski died and Trump is the opposite , a reactive, shortminded, nationalist, mercantalist business man who thinks that policy was just economy and sees globalization merely as a loose-win-situation for the USA.

Many Westerners look at the 19th Party Congress of the CPChina which announces bold visions, geopolitical megaprojects, a development plan for the nation and the the world for 2030 and 2050. a global New Deal like the OBOR initiative, which could shape globalization on Chinese terms, a vision for digitalization and transformation of China into a hightech nation. While the West is dominated by cultural pessimism, East Asia and especially China seems to have the „New frontier“spirit for the future the West had in the past and was always proud of. While China wants to push its OBOR initiative, the last comparable Western megaproject was Desert Tech which wanted to build a solar panel belt in Africa to deliver electricity for the industrialization of Africa and the consumption of Europe. However, Desert Tech was canceled as the Western economic and political system is not that farsightetd, visionary and strategically thinking as China and it has no state funds or investment funds which think in geopolitical terms, but are profit orientated and want a quick revenue from their investment. Many Westerners now hear of Xi Jinping´s „Chinese dream“, „rejuvelation of China“ and feel that China has got the „New Frontier“spirit the West seems to have lost.

However, China has to take care that this new Chinese spirit is not leading to the hybris the USA had after the Cold War.If China prevents and avoids interventionim, adventurism. greedy neoliberalism it´s peaceful rise seems to be unavoidable. But the Chinese leaders have a very rationale, holistic view of the world, are thinking in categories of Realpolitik and comprehensive national power, prefer evolutionary development instead of revolutionary policy. Therefore the prospect for a „Chinese rejuvelation“are quit bright and it´s no wonder that the Chinese people are more optimistic about the future as Westerners are.

 


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