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A story of my day today, on Polish TV and how it's the right answer to thwart Chinese aggression
More like a parable than a story
Happy Thursday TAT followers,
Today, I began my day with a recurring role, commenting on China for Poland’s national TV. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my insights on the English language version of Polish news. Poland has in the past few years become a key player in Europe’s security and decision-making. They host a wide variety of resources and refugee efforts for the non-combatants fleeing Russia’s, genocidal invasion of Ukraine. They are not only a key NATO ally, but a generous friend to Ukraine. As of early Spring of 2023, the US also now has a permanent garrison of 10,000 troops stationed in Poland. This is now added to the existing 5 which include three in Germany, one in Italy and one in Belgium. The bottom line is that our NATO presence is strong and due to Putin’s aggression, will become stronger.
Today’s topic was about the European Commision president, Ursula von der Leyen’s announcement last week of initiating an investigation into how China is undercutting European automakers in the production of electric vehicles. This topic is of interest to all nations engaged in any form of commercial exchange with Beijing. To be blunt, China never plays by the rules, even their own rules. The European Commision is best described as similar to the US Executive branch, but of the European Union. I would imagine that many are asking themselves; “what does this have to do with US national security?” It’s a good question and the answer is simple: China is not only our biggest global threat but their influence around the world is also a threat to the US, NATO and what is called, the RBIO or Rules Based International Order.
President von der Leyen’s announcement comes at an opportune time, but more on that later. Her announcement simply highlights, just one of the ongoing battles with Xi’s China and is related to China’s aggressive, war-like and always unfair business dealings with everyone. Xi does this because since he came to power and announced his “China Dream” policy, he has pursued a policy of global domination. Step one is to become the regional hegemon by 2035 and global, by 2049. He is not trying to occupy every nation but to convert them into a “tributary system” that owes homage, only to Beijing. While that the China Dream is the strategy, the infrastructure to achieve it is largely, the BRI or Belt and Road Initiative.
The BRI is also known as a combination of “Silk Roads” a play on the term made famous in describing Marco Polo’s travels to China. Xi has a plethora of SRs/ Silk Roads. These are his investments in all forms of transportation routes, globally. There are maritime SRs, rail, highways, airports, bridges, canals, ports etc. China largely controls most of the world’s most important commercial transportation routes. Xi also has his communication SRs, healthcare SRs, shipping SRs, undersea SRs, space SRs etc.
To be frank, it’s a brilliant strategy. The good news though, is that Xi rarely misses an opportunity to make a horrible strategic decision. It has been helpful that he has shown himself incompetent but sooner or later, the US, a global leader on strategic decisions, must develop a far better strategy to manage Chinese pursuit of global domination. We are slowly getting there after the disastrous Trump administration but are still short of what we must do. My talk on TV this morning was largely about how to see President von der Leyen’s announcement as a component of a global strategy against China’s aggression, albeit a more minor one.
Now that we have a better understanding of the big picture, it is easier to see where my appearance with Polish TV today, fits into it. Before COVID, Xi invested heavily in nations all around the world and in an attempt to have leverage over decision-makers in every country. Coercive economics, along with military intimidation and an abysmal human rights record are the hallmarks of everything China does in pursuit of their China Dream. President von der Leyen’s announcement of an investigation into EV subsidies, like everything China does, is a method for acquiring market share in Europe unfairly.
The simplest explanation is that China so heavily subsidizes their EVs that they are at least 20% cheaper than European competitors. No wonder that Elon Musk claims that he can reduce production costs of Teslas by half in China. It should be easy enough with huge, CCP subsidies. With Mercedes and Volkswagen especially vulnerable to such a competitive disadvantage, jobs, markets and economic stability are at stake in Europe. French manufacturers are a bit better off but still at a disadvantage. A decade ago, the same thing occurred regarding solar panels. Standing up to China then brought aggressive retaliation from Beijing. Now, we’re back to square one, between appeasement or put up a fight.
The simple truth is that appeasement, is the strategy of fools and losers. WW II should have taught this after then Prime Minister Chamberlain’s infamous declaration of; “Peace in our time.” This was after signing over Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Appeasement of a known aggressor only whets their appetite for more, and the next time around, they will demand or take a bigger bite. This simply means that not only has the EU made a logical choice, but they have chosen to take this action at a strategically advantageous time.
The European Commission’s decision to stand firm now, comes in the wake of NATO unity over Putin’s War. A decade ago, when the debacle over solar panels caused a serious economic backlash from China and an unprepared and less unified EU, paid the consequences. Now, with Xi and Putin forming a unified front against the West, they are running up against unity rather than individual obstacles. With the dramatic and still accelerating decline of China’s economy, a precipitous decline in FDI/ Foreign Direct Investment by China into European economies, Xi will have a much tougher time coercing Europe to bow to his will. More simply said, Xi’s penchant for digging in on poor strategic decisions can’t be helped, but at the moment, he does not have the upper hand. Either way, the EU was going to have to make this choice and they chose a far better time to do it.
The moral to this story or rather parable, is that unity is the key to shoring up a declining Rules-Based, International Order. I don’t just mean NATO or any collection of strategic partnerships, but any and all nations and formalized grouping that wishes for a world system that is competitive but not dominated by bad actors like Russia, China and so many others. Places like the UN and the International Criminal Courts have lost their luster due to being toothless in enforcing laws, policies and norms. Even NATO was seen for decades as rather toothless and certainly did not deter Putin from invading Ukraine. China is immoral and unethical in how they manage relationships globally. No one is spared Xi’s deceit and dishonesty. Being a bully is effective until the whole schoolyard stands up and says, “no more.”
NATO and others are saying no to Putin, the RBIO is saying no to Xi and this is breeding courageous stances from other nations and entities as well. This is a trend that needs more momentum in order to stem the influence of serial aggressors. It will also serve to send a clear message to others, who wish to copycat Xi, Putin and several other global thugs. This fledgling trend will not sustain itself though. It’s a valuable trend that must be nurtured, like the rarest orchid. Peace and stability are as delicate and fragile as those rare, exotic flowers. All in all, today’s talk with the kind folks at TVP (Polish TV) was emblematic of a lesson too often unlearned. The lesson is simple, we’re stronger together. Let’s keep learning and standing firm against aggression. It is simply put, the only answer for moral nations.
Thanks to all for your patience. This is a shorter TAT, but quite dense in material. If anyone has interest, I’ll post the video when I receive it from the station.
Cheers and best for your day,