China: strategic model for a Latin American World Power
1. China advances geopolitics, Latin America is stalled
Three decades ago, the geopolitical challenge for China and Latin America was essentially the same: to overcome the status of an underdeveloped region and to insert itself as a world power into the existing global order. Nowadays, the difference between the two regions could not be more dramatic. While China seems to be resolving successfully both tasks, the Latin American integration drive could slow substantially in 2009. At the same time its importance as an actor in the geopolitical arena remains virtually zero.
2. Lessons of China´s insertion into the global world order
The lessons of the successful Chinese model are clear. To overcome the status of an underdeveloped national economy in the current capitalist world system it is imperative to have a strong state with a political class that is capable of applying the economic strategy formalized in Friedrich List’s development model. This model has been successful since the days of Cromwell until the latest Asian Tigers. The only alternative successful experience can be found in certain prolonged periods of the Soviet development model.
In China, both political-economical requirements were met after the death of Mao. Those requirements, combined with the country’s gigantic territorial and demographic power and its relative umbrella of protection provided by its nuclear arms and a veto right in the UN Security Council, converted the PRC in only three decades into the third most important economic powerhouse of the world.
Once a powerful and competitive economy had evolved, China decided to project itself as an ascending regional power determined to seek an adequate insertion into the hierarchical global order dominated by the military-industrial-financial complex of the Pax americana. Such a decision by an ascending nation-state generally implies the danger of war and the possibility of being destroyed in the attempt of carving out a niche for oneself in the global power structure, as history clearly indicates.
Cato´s “Carthago delenda est” ---Carthage must be destroyed---, hangs like the Sword of Damocles over any newcomer, who as the German Emperor Wilhelm II once phrased it, strives for “a place in the sun” among the order of the alpha-beasts. In the 20th century, when the ascending powers Germany and Japan failed to reconfigure the dominant world system politically, their insertion-attempts ended in World War I and II.
Another example of the problem are the constant wars of Israel, which reveal the stupidity and blindness of their dominant class, that is incapable of finding its place on the world’s “chess board”.
China, acting with the wisdom of Sun Tzu, (up to now) has avoided such cataclysms, advancing dialectically with strategic firmness and tactical flexibility in the conquest of geopolitics positions, providing key elements of a software-pattern for the current Latin-American progressive governments, with regards to a strategic and integrated foreign policy.
3. Africa: example of geopolitical insertion – the Consensus of Beijing
The insertion of China in Africa in the last eight years by means of a strategy of regional-global consolidation, serves as an example. That insertion began systematically with the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation" that met in January 2000 with 44 important African politicians in Beijing, under the motto "mutual benefit, feasible results, multiplicity of forms and joint development".
The agreements reached at the Forum became the programmatic platform for the progress of economic interaction. The commercial volume increased from barely $10 billion to $108 billion in 2008, and Chinese investments grew to more than $5 billion. The building of infrastructures and factories of good quality and low cost; the provision of soft loans; energy investments; zero tariffs for 190 African products; of thousands of scholarships for students and workers, in China; the cancellation of almost $10 billion in bilateral debts and the sending of more than 15 thousand doctors to Africa, created a systematic presence of the PRCh in the entire continent.
On January 12, 2006, a new Chinese strategic document refined the relation with Africa as a "new model of strategic association" that covers not only the economy, but also political (a 150 million dollars conventions center given to the African Union in Addis Abeba), cultural and multiple other areas of cooperation. On November, 2006, a new meeting of the Forum took place in the Chinese capital with 48 African heads of state, reinforcing the so called Consensus of Beijing.
4. Geopolitical military projection
The dispatch of three chinese warships to the Somalia coast in December, 2008, initiated the military projection of the new world power on the international scene. It was not an isolated act, but the start of a global military presence of the PRCh, as a corollary of its global economic presence, as was explained by the "military white book" of the Council of State on January 20, 2009.
The 105 page document defines certain pro-independence movements related to Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, and the United States´ military policy (sic) as threats to Chinese security. It affirms that "China being in a phase of social and economic transition", the country needs to counteract the American military presence in the region. Washington "has increased its strategic attention to and input in the Asia-Pacific region, further consolidating its military alliances, adjusting its military deployment and enhancing its military capabilities". The construction of "new types of submarines, destroyers, frigates and fighter planes"; the mechanization, informatization and modernization of the Armed Forces and innovations in the doctrine of “people´s war”, among other measures, is the Chinese dragon’s answer to the approach of the imperial eagle.
5. Geopolitical media projection
The careful projection of military power outside the country is now being complemented by a new global projection of Chinese media power. Conscious of the importance of world public opinion and the international propaganda war, in its ascent as a new global player, Beijing has decided to expand its media presence globally in the field of television, news bureaus and printed media. With a budget of $6.6 billion, it will try to create internationally "an image of a strong and new nation", by means of a 24 hour news channel of China Central Television (CCTV), modeled after Al Jazeera; new broadcasts in Russian and Arabic; the opening of new bureaus of the Xinhua News Agency and new editions of the People’s Daily.
6. Geopolitical Latin American orfanage
In Latin-American politics there is nothing even remotely comparable to this strategic concept and execution of the “war of insertion” in global geopolitics, based upon the components of real power and objective conditions; that is, economic, political-diplomatic, cultural and military power. In fact, Latin-American diplomacy as a doctrinal entity does not exist and the required strategic
institutions like think tanks, research centers, etc., which could and should conceptualize these geopolitical and world order blueprints from a Latin American point of view, are virtually inexistent.
7. Left in a multipolar system, without a post-Monroe geopolitical vision
The foreign policy of the presidencies and Latin-American chancelleries is centered on national issues and perspectives, generally reactive and of an ad hoc nature. To a certain degree, Cuba and Brazil are an exception to this categorization. However, the essence of Cuban diplomacy is defensive, since its raison d´etre consists in surviving and, if possible, breaking the US-blockade, while Brazilian diplomacy is based upon national interests.
That explains, why neither country is able to fill the vacuum that the absence of a post-Monroe geopolitical vision in the Latin American integration and liberation process has left vis-à-vis a multipolar global system in status nascendi.
The absence of a geopolitical strategy is the fundamental difference between the foreign policy of the Latin America progressive governments and the foreign policy of the RPCh. There is no high level geopolitical software; no strategic research centers and no Latin American political class with a viable geopolitical vision, in line with the objective conditions of the Great Motherland (Patria Grande) and the opportunities that the erosion of the “American Century” provide. The world chess board, that ipso facto constitutes a decisive factor for the constitution and identity of a Latin-American subject in world politics, does not exist for the Latin-American governments.
8. The war of insertion and the great Sun Tzu
And this means, as the great Sun Tzu taught, that Latin America is going into a war of insertion (against Washington and Brussels) without preparation. "War is a vital theme for the State, it is the border between life and death, the difference between survival and annihilation. It should be studied", the wise Chinese general recommended and quoted Li Ch´uan: "Weapons bring problems. One must give war its place and reflect before launching it".
Translated from Spanish by Gilo Muirragui