Never before has the world so eagerly awaited for a new year to commence!
Today, while writing this post on Dec 31st, 2020, I am contemplating all the events that have happened in 2020. And there is no denial of the fact that the world got changed in 2020. It looks like after Steve Job’s legendary launch of Iphone in 2007 which changed the world, Covid-19 became the next thing which turned our life upside down. And today, we all are eagerly awaiting for 2021 to usher in. We are sincerely praying that 2021 turns out to be a better year,which will restore peace, happiness and stability back in our life. I do hope the same!
But at the same time, as Gurudev Ravishankar said in his talk today, that this pandemic showed the other side of life. We all crave for good, and happy times. We forget the difficulties and problems in life when everything is stable, and under our control. But this pandemic showed us how things can go out of human control rapidly. This year showed us how important and short life is. It made us realize the simple joys of life such as staying with family, having a stable job, and even going out for a walk. The world saw how difficult it is to live under lockdown. We all usually read or watch movies of the soldiers and freedom fighters who suffered enormous hardships in fighting against the enemy, be it against the Nazis in Europe, or against British rule in India. Only when we all underwent the hardships of living under lockdown, we came to value the importance of true freedom. Until the pandemic occurred, we all had taken the freedom imparted to us lightly, but now we atleast have got a glimpse of life without freedom. That is why, people have even started thinking about the cruelty to deprive poor animals of their freedom by keeping them in zoos and amusement parks for our entertainment!
Having suffered the dark side of life after pandemic, we have started realizing how few things we really need to live a good life. We understood that we can live without eating outside or even buying expensive clothes or gadgets. Because these fancy clothes, makeup or gadgets won’t save our life, but our good health, good food, calm mind and having loved ones staying together will save us. Due to this pandemic having engulfed the whole mother earth, never in history did it happen that we all (humans) became united. Until 2020, we had always biased each other, and made every attempt to separate each others by building either physical walls ( be it Berlin Wall or Trump’s wall), or virtual walls ( made of racism, casteism, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation bias etc). But 2020 made us realize that events like pandemic does not differentiate between us on any artificial grounds. So, in a way, we can also say that 2020 brought humanity together, atleast for fighting against pandemic!
Besides, in 2020, many of us saw how beautiful this earth is! This is because one of the sideeffects of pandemic turned out to be fresh air, with zero air pollution. For ex: This led to viewing of Himalayas from hundreds of miles in India, which was not seen due to high pollution in air for the last several decades. Hence, even though 2020 was a dreaded year for most of us, however this year turned out to be very special for nature observers and climate watchers, due to huge change in climate and nature pattern which had been severely altered for all these years due to human activity.
Similarly, due to no traffic and thereby zero sound pollution, it made wild animals curious to sneek in the cities to find out where did 7 billion people disappear? Here are some pictures which captured this once in a century nature’s phenomenon.
Hence, finally, as I complete this post, 2020 ended and 2021 has begun. Many of us are praying for 2021 to bring happiness and stability in life. Indeed, 2020 was a rough year, which will never be forgotten by my generation. Historians love to find patterns in historic events, and I being a history buff, consider 2020 to be a year which changed our way of living, just like the historic years of 1989 ( when Berlin Wall fell which marked the beginning of the end of communism), or 1945 ( when WW2 was won after the fall of Nazi and Imperial Japanese). As US President elect Joe Biden said in his victory speech, “This is a time to heal in America”. I feel this is a time to heal for the entire world. May 2021 give us enough room for us to heal, come together for humanity, collaborate for just causes, break the barriers of racism, gender bias etc, and work towards achieving global peace. I know this might sound grandiose, but atleast we can start taking one step ahead….
I am ending this post with this realization, that afterall, we did won(successfully survive) in 2020, and have entered a new year, with new hopes and new surprises as well……
How an once united nation has been divided into colored nation!
The US election 2020 is in full swing. In every presidential election, the so called “United” States of America gets divided into the “Red” and the “Blue” states to elect the President. Until 2016, even though the country voted based on its preference, yet the blue and red came always together to form the United States of America. But since the 2016 elections and even this 2020 elections, due to Trump’s division politics, this bifurcation of red and blue has become more apparent and permanent than ever.
So,what are the blue and red states? The Wikipedia article shows the general trend of 50 states going red or blue.
Red states support republican party, while blue states support democratic party. There are some states which are dark red, while some states are dark blue. They are the staunch supporters of Republican and Democratic party respectively. While, there are few states which are either light red, light blue or even purple. They are known to be borderline republican or democrats, or famously known as swing states. Because they can swing the elections.
So, what happens in most of the presidential elections is that only few states decide which president will get elected. Because, the permanent red and blue states have historically remained as they are. So, their electoral votes are considered to be guaranteed. But the swing states are uncertain, and hence, the presidential candidates have to tour those states, conduct rallys, and try to win those states in their favor. So, actually, the US presidential election result is not decided by the majority votes, but only the votes of swing states!
Why is this so? Well, the red and blue states have been loyal to their respective parties or ideologies fairly consistently since many decades. This is because of the type of population which resides in these areas. The blue states, also known as democratic states have the voter base of urban, educated, diverse populations. They are pro-immigrant, support minority rights, women rights/feminism/LGBTQ community, abortion, environmental issues like global warming. are anti-coal lobby, anti-gun lobby or NRA etc. All this is welcomed by people living in cities and those who are well educated, those who work in tech or finance companies etc. That’s why we see states having big cities such as New York, California( Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego), Seattle, New England region such as Massachusetts, Illinois( Chicago), Colorado( Denver) have been traditionally democrats. And that will not change in the near future, unless the democratic policies undergo any change.
Same goes for republicans. Their voter base are rural, sub-urban or small towners, who practice farming, or own a small business. They are not very educated, mostly white, against immigrants or special minority rights, consider climate change as hoax, believe in owning a gun or rifle as a fundamental right, against abortion, regular church goers, despise feminism, and LQBTQ rights. They form a big section of America when it comes to land size. That’s why we see the red states form a part of mid-western america (which is also known as corn belt), southern america( also known as bible belt), and mountainous regions of Appalachia ( Tennessee, Kentucky, N.C), Rocky mountains( Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana) and Texas which are known for their ruggedness. poverty and conservative mindset. They all have remained loyal republicans.
Now, the swing states are those states which have undergone recent changes based on demography, and political preferences. The main swing states consist of Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. Out of these, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia are in the south, Arizona in the south-west and rest are in the north-central.
Florida, North Carolina and Georgia ( even though a part of the south bible belt) have seen a lot of immigration from wealthy northerners, especially in Florida, and hence, we see big cities like Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham-Morrisville( RTP) etc having substantial immigrants in these states. I had stayed in RTP and Atlanta for the last 5 years, and have seen how immigrants and liberal politics have began dominating the urban areas. That’s why they have become separated into urban and rural division, and which has made them swing states. Even Arizona( Tucson, Phoenix) has a lot of Mexican migrants and the Wall politics started by Trump has further widened the divide between White Americans and Mexican-Americans in this region.
The northern swing states with cities like Pennsylvania( Pittsburgh), Michigan( Detroit), Wisconsin( Milwaukee), Illinois( Chicago,St.Louis) used to be the industrial cities, also known as Rust belt. But since the globalization and financialization of American economy during the Reagan era ( republican), the American manufacturing industry got severely impacted, and hence, it came to be called “Rust belt”, with all its industries being shut down or moved to China.
Hence, with Trump’s criticism of China, these states found a savior and so they swung back to republicans in 2016. But now in 2020, we see they have moved back to democrats due to Trump’s failed deal with China, and civil rights issues( Chicago, Detroit etc having some of the most black dominated areas). Hence, they are known as Swing states.
The race to win the President as of Nov 4, 2020 is still on the way. We are not sure who will win, but this presidential race has further bifurcated the divisions of the states, into red and blue. It is not longer just political divide, but that of ideology( free market capitalism vs govt favored socialist capitalism), religion ( ardent christianity vs religious tolerance/separation of state and religion, anti-immigrants vs pro-immigrants, anti-feminism vs pro-feminism, anti-environment vs pro-environment, pro-gun rights/second amendment vs anti-gun rights/second amendment, anti-obamacare vs pro-obamacare etc respectively. Never in history, America has seen so many diversions and aberrations!
If 2016 US elections results were one of the most surprising and shocking the world ever saw, then on the same grounds, it seems that 2020 will also make a history with its outcome, whatever it may be. Both sides have their pros and cons, and whatever results the political ‘pundits’ might speculate, still no one knows what will actually happen on Nov 3rd. I have lived in US for 5 years ( 2015 to 2020) and having observed the US politics and culture closely, I felt to write a post to add my two cents to this.
First of all, I endorse no party, or candidate, as I am not an American. Hence, the views expressed are completely from an outsider’s perspective, of what I saw in America, and based on those set of experiences, there are certain observations and deductions made about the US politics and public opinions. Also, I like to read history, international relations, and based on that, I often inter-relate certain events around the world, which does influence each other. For ex: one of the significant factors behind Trump’s 2016 victory was the shift towards right wing politics, anti-establishment trend around the world and which was already proven in countries like India and UK, where Narendra Modi had won in 2014 and British had voted in favor of Brexit in 2015, respectively. Such references helps us to understand why Trump could manage to win, inspite of whatever the world media and political analysts had predicted.
Similarly, there are many events and factors which are going to influence this election, enormously. This article analyzes some of them, which will make us understand what is the trend, and what might be the outcome. But at the same time, even a small scandal or event before the elections can change the course, as it happened regarding Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, just few days before the elections. Nevertheless, it did significant damage to her credibility.
The United States as we see today is a very deeply polarized nation. Not only divided are they in terms of political affiliation ( democrats vs republicans), but also on social issues, environmental concerns, women rights, immigrants and minorities, foreign affairs, economic policy, health and education system etc. One set of followers who support republican party, and who are right wingers, pro-establishment believe in excessive patriotism ( or jingoism), less taxes, global warming as a hoax, live in ‘Bible belt’, America first policy, ban immigrants, pro whites and against minority rights, against abortion, against Obamacare etc. While the other set believes in the exact opposite which is the democratic party, with pro minorities and immigrants rights under the banner that America is a nation made of immigrants ( which is true..). They are concerned about environmental issues like global warming, support abortion, do not believe in church or any religion ( or rather religion is a personal matter, that has nothing to do with the state), more taxes on the wealthy, social security and universal health care for all etc. I don’t know any area where both these groups might come together. Such deep and wide has become the nation’s political and social division.
But amidst all this pandemonium, Donald Trump stands as an outsider to all this chaotic politics, who is a rabble rouser, an iconoclast, with his callous and unpredictable behavior. After becoming President, he not only has widened the rift, but also normalized the ‘abnormal’. The way we look towards and expect from the President’s office has utterly changed. He is liked by millions, just as being disliked by even more. But he has become a phenomenon in US politics who cannot be ignored.
Firstly, Trump has benefited immensely from the people’s shift towards right wing, anti-establishment sentiment. This rise of nationalism was seen in 2016, and it continues to this day. We see more and more Presidents and Prime Ministers all over the world being elected, belonging to the right wing party, or ideology. Take India, Narendra Modi won in 2014 and again in 2019, with even more majority. Though Indian politics is a lot different than US, but considering the similarity in political backgrounds as an outsider ( Modi is also an outsider like Trump, as he neither belongs to the establishment of Gandhi-Nehru family, nor he is a part of Lutyen’s Delhi), and their pro country( Make in India, and America First) stand, they both become natural friends. Then, we have PM Boris Johnson in UK, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Bolsenaro in Brazil, and Netanyahu in Israel ( with whom Trump has close relations). This rise of nationalism, all over the world, stands in favor of Trump.
Secondly, Trump has a loyal supporter base, primarily of white voters, who are from rural america, and who have been severely affected by globalization, competition by China, and flow of low cost immigrants from Mexico. They continue to support Trump because of many reasons. They feel Trump has taken steps in favor of them. His trade war with China, banning of immigrants from Mexico, plans to build the wall ( its been 4 years, and there is no Wall yet..). I saw one documentary from DW where the poor people in Appalachian mountains, are hardcore supporters of Trump, inspite of their continued living in poverty. Infact, when I used to travel in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, I saw numerous Trump supporters billboards. They are enamored by Trump, and his persona, for being a white guy, who is billionaire, and close to his family always. The poor and uneducated people in America, are often the fiercest followers of Christianity, and ardent church goers. They find Trump, to be an ideal Christian man, who has been faithful to his family, and exhibits Christian ( which means Protestant) virtues. Besides, he is rich, and white dude, which makes him perfect candidate for preserving the old, white, waspy, conservative America.
Then, we see Trump is fortunate to have formed close alliances with like minded friends, who will render him support to win. This includes being friends with Israel, Saudis and Russia. Israel and its conservative leadership has benefited immensely from the day Trump has been in the Oval office. Not only has Trump endorsed Israel on many issues such as setting up the US embassy in Jerusalem, its stand against Iran by the assassination of Major General Qasem Suleimani, US withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal, and imposing of economic sanctions on Iran, but also Trump being close to Jews, due to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, being Jewish, and his pro-Israel stand. Hence, the conservative Jews in US( Wall Street, Koch brothers) against the liberal Jews in US (New York Times, Silicon valley, universities or George Soros) will fight to support Trump, and make every attempt to get him elected again. Besides, Saudi Arabia favors Trump due to the change in geo-politics in the middle east, where Saudi’s are ever more concerned about the influence of rising Shia Crescent after the disastrous Syrian Civil War, and also with the rise in another competitor, Turkey to challenge the Saudi leadership in the Muslim world. They need Trump’s support to keep Iran and Turkey away from dominating middle east. In case of Russia, it has never been good time for Putin and Kremlin, for having Trump as a President. Russia have always suffered under the democrats( particularly Clintons), under Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1990’s and they feared for the same if Hillary had taken the command in 2016. Hence, Russia will support Trump to keep him in power.
Trump is an astute businessman. He knows how to deal with people, situations and comprehends everything in the world as a race, competition to win. Its his winners take all approach, coupled with survival of the fittest which makes him a typical old fashioned american businessman. He has no ethics, values or principles, and never accepts defeat. But also he has not regrets and is always willing to pass any limits to achieve his ambition. He is the perfect embodiment of “The end justifies the means” ideology. This is what enthralled the attention of the conservative American public. For them, he was and still is the right candidate to recover the American economy, to bring back the jobs lost abroad or to immigrants. Though before Covid-19 happened, American economy rose with the highest growth rates, and Wall street was elated with the spectacular performance of the stock market, thanks for Trump’s decrease in the taxes on the wealthy ( thereby increasing the already widened gap between the rich and the poor), but also due to the share buyback approach adapted by most of the companies. His supporters conveniently forget to acknowledge the fact that Trump had already inherited a booming economy from Obama, and it was during Obama years, when the economy faced dire recession, and it was Obama government who made sure the economy be brought back on track. But as we all know, Trump rarely gives credit to others, and so he boasted of making the greatest economy in human history, in a mere span of 3 years! Now, Trump has lost the trump card of leading the greatest economy due to Covid-19, now he is promising the voters to revive back the economy once again like it was before. He even had to discard the slogan “Keep America Great” and retake the first term campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. For his supporters, Covid-19 and economic recession are external threats brought by China, and hence they would exonerate Trump for the current economic conditions. Infact, the Trump supporters still hope that he is only the man who can do the job of reviving back the economy, just like he had done to his business, inspite of claiming bankruptcy, a whopping four times!. His personal business track record is an indicator for reversing the country’s current dire situation again if he wins.
To understand if he will win, we need to look at the opponents as well. And looking at the democratic party presidential and vice-presidential nominee, many democrats or liberals are not happy. Even though Biden has more political experience than Trump, but he is not inspirational candidate especially when the country needs a strongman. He is older than Trump, and his political record does not raise any more hopes that any thing better will be done if he wins. Infact, he represents the elite establishment, and observing the ongoing anti-establishment trend in politics, he is clearly the wrong guy. But more worse is the selection of Kamala Harris, for Vice-President(VP). The most shocking aspect of American public, especially the white, rural voters is the lack of belief in women at the highest position. Even though America pats its back for being champion of human rights, feminism, #MeToo etc, but when it comes to society, its still a male dominated one, and this patriarchy has been emboldened under Trump regime. That is why Hillary lost in 2016, as many women voters opted for Trump inspite of his proven misogynist history. The Democratic party is desperate to put a women president in the office, and still unable to learn the lessons from 2016, they have again played the women card, only indirectly in the form of VP. People are aware of Biden’s age, and with the considerable possibility of him serving only one term, Kamala has the chance to become the first women ( non-white) president. For the Trump supporters, more than Kamala as a women, the more pressing fact is that she is non-white. I wonder if the white voters did not allow a white women(Hillary) to become President, how in the world can they allow Kamala to become President? And her identity as a mixed Afro-American, and Indian, is not helping her much due to her highly educated parents, and her elite upbringing. Unlike Obama, who struggled in his life, worked hard and went to Harvard to study law, and is an excellent orator and professor, Kamala has unfortunately no such accomplishments to prove her merit. The only chance Democratic party to win ( maybe) was with Bernie Sanders, who could have fought a close battle against Trump, but the Democratic party system does not want a reformer, and a socialist. Hence, a good chance and candidate was lost!
When we look at Trump’s Presidency in the past 4 years since 2016 elections, the one thing everyone acknowledges is the fact that he has done what he told before winning ( or atleast tried to do). He promised for banning immigrants and he did make life difficult for immigrants. He issued executive orders for curbing immigrants from Muslim countries, for restricting H1-B workers from India, or even deporting Chinese students under the accusation of espionage. He had promised to take actions against China, and he did that in the form of Trade war, even though that might not have worked out much in favor for US. He took strict actions against Iran, and withdrawed from the Iran nuclear deal. He made Wall Street happy by reducing taxes on the rich. He hated the liberal news media, and entertained his voter base with comical press briefings and chastised New York Times and CNN as’fake news’. He entered the good books of conservative Texas oilmen, coal lobby by repudiating the Paris Climate Agreement. In a nutshell, he has done what he promised. This makes him an outsider, who is not like a typical crooked politician ( though he is lot more discreetly). His agenda of ‘doing business’ and ‘getting things done’ are one of the core American principles. Hence, this makes him more famous than ever. However, his voters are not aware of the consequences of what he has done. Even though he has fulfilled many promises, but the after effects are going to be disastrous, sooner or later. But unfortunately his followers have become myopic!
Finally, the ongoing racial protests all over America, be it with the tragic and cruel death of George Floyd and many others have become rampant. The #BlackLivesMatter protests are symbolic of the underlying inequality and racial tensions besieging America. The African Americans are tired of this hatred and biase against them by few white policemen or white fascists. They are also stunned by the fact that mere 12 years before, they had seen America electing the country’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, and with his victory again in 2012, they came to believe that the old America who harassed Afro-Americans as slaves was a thing of the past. They thought their centuries long struggle against racism, with the sacrifice of Dr.King, and many more, had come to fruition. But just 4 years before, with Trump’s election, everything changed. The racism and violence against them have exacerbated again. The way Trump has reversed and abashed the Obama era policies and welfare schemes has disappointed the Afro-Americans and liberals. And they now feel that this would escalate even more if Trump wins again. But unfortunately, the division along racial and ethnic lines have worsened so much that these protests, which were meant to raise their voices against inequality and racism have taken an ugly turn. The incessant violence and riots have polarized the american society, and even united the loyal Trump supporters against the BLM protests. This article shows how a white man carrying ‘BlackLivesMatter” placard had to face severe backlash from the white conservative voters. All this is going to affect the upcoming elections in a big way.
Many political thinkers and analysts are saying that America is going through a systemic change, and with reference to all the events and policies as mentioned above, it does seem to be true. Paul Kennedy had famously predicted about the American decline in his book “The Rise and the Fall of Great Powers“, and Neil Howe and Bill Strauss had mentioned about the turbulent years America will see during 2020’s. All this might be labeled as a close coincidence, but we cannot forget the fact that they did explain after researching centuries of human history, wars and empires. Indeed, America had risen to its pinnacle in 1945, and even in 1991, but the current trend shows it to be on the downward turn. BLM protests, racial tensions, Covid-19, economic recession, ineffective healthcare system, expensive education system troubled with huge education loans on students, widening gap between the rich and the poor with nation’s wealth in the hands of few silicon valley tech giants, wall street bankers and military-industrial complex, lack of people’s belief in political institutions, and thereby paving a way to elect an outsider like Trump are all the indicators of the current American decline. Electing Trump is not going to solve them but exacerbate them. The trump followers might hope that electing Trump will #MakeAmericaGreatAgain by keeping it white, patriarchal, isolated from world affairs, but this short term gain will endure in a long term pain of losing the glory of “American Dream”, of losing democratic allies, of losing the trust of the world, and losing the credibility of being the free land where everyone is welcome to work hard, innovate, and collectively progress. The American history shows that America was made by people who were brave, and free and believed in human values. The founding fathers, Andrew Carnegie, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Steve Jobs, Elie Wiesel, Henry Kissinger, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Sergei Brin, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many more have themselves or their ancestors immigrated to America, due to this faith in America Dream. Even Donald Trump’s family(including his wife) and conservative Rupert Murdoch were immigrants to America! But looking at the current condition in America, that faith has dwindled, and if this continues, sooner or later, time would come to bid adieu to the American Dream!
Today, China is known as “the world’s factory”. China accounts for more than 28% of global manufacturing output. There are many economic reasons to explain this such as illustrated in this article. https://blacksmithint.com/how-did-china-become-the-worlds-factory/ But, the rise of China has also been led by a lot of other factors, few of these events did play a vital role which has resulted in today’s global scenario.
Nixon-Kissinger’s visit to China, and adopting the policy to create a wedge between Soviet Union and China
Japan’s rise in late 1970’s and 1980’s as an economic giant, based on the capitalism and unique Japanese industrial model.
Globalization and financialization of America after Reagan’s win to Presidency
Fall of Soviet Union in 1991, leading to the complacency towards China after winning the cold war
Tech revolution in silicon valley, California
Bush accidental election in 2000, 9/11 and the subsequent dragging of America in Iraq-Afghanistan war
Finally, the global recession in 2007-08
It all started with Nixon and his cunning advisor Henry Kissinger. In order to defeat the Russians in the cold war, they thought to create a wedge between the communist powers, USSR and China. This is because America had already suffered severe setbacks in Vietnam war ( due to the covert assistance of Soviets and Chinese to the Vietnamese communists). Then, India had defeated the US supported Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, and to the very disgruntled Nixon, it was like a punch in the face. Besides, civil protests, anti-war movement against US involvement in Vietnam and new age movement had ravaged the public perception of Nixon ( though Watergate scandal surpassed all the limits later). Hence, this move to befriend China was initiated to create a diversion in US foreign policy which until had been vehemently focused on Soviet Union and Vietnam during the 1960’s decade. Though this did work later, but in the long run, as we see, this decision acted as a trigger for a whole new conflict, erupted today.
But as US needed China against Soviet Union, so did China needed USA as well. This is because of the rise of Japan as an economic power. Japan had started dominating in industries such as electronics and automotive, with the capitalistic model blended with Japanese work ethic. As China and Japan had been rivals for a long time, and China had not forgotten the brutal massacres and genocides committed by the Japanese forces during world war 2, it was natural for China to fear about history to get repeated again. Though, post WW2 Japan had been significantly different as compared the pre WW2, but the economic model of manufacturing, self-reliance and capitalism with unique Japanese culture acted as a symbol of Japan’s resurgence in the Asia, and thereby becoming once again the dominant power as it was before. Japan took less than 3 decades to transform from a poor, devastated country after WW2 to become a rich, industrial superpower. On the other side, China also had been ruined by the WW2, and on similar parallel, they had still remained a poor, backward country as compared to Japan. Due to Mao’s embrace of communism, China neither became an industrialized nation, nor a self-reliant one. Of course, there were vast differences between both the nations in terms of population, size, resources etc. But the fact that a resource deficient, small country like Japan can rebounce in such a small duration, with the capitalistic, manufacturing model compelled China to drift away from USSR’s communism and embrace capitalism in order to lift its humongous population out of dire poverty. Hence, finally, China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, opened up in 1979.
The next factor which accounted for the rise of China as a manufacturing hub is the globalization and financialization era which had started after Ronald Reagan got elected to become the President in 1980. It was during his presidential two terms, that the theories of Milton Friedman http://umich.edu/~thecore/doc/Friedman.pdf, https://medium.com/@jonmertz/on-business-milton-friedman-is-wrong-about-social-responsibility-9fef2c749643 and other conservative republicans got implemented in the American economy. The companies started manufacturing in other parts of the world such as China, Taiwan and Korea, and companies in US got more involved in simply making profits as per Friedman’s theory. By manufacturing abroad, laying off local employees, shutting down local branches and disbanding trade unions, USA handed over a large chunk of manufacturing to China. As China provided an ideal condition of cheap labor, along with long hours, lack of regulatory compliance, low taxes and fast production, American companies ( which means shareholders and investors) were more than happy to mint dollars. Even Japanese competition compelled Americans to manufacture in China to reduce cost of production and labor, and thereby compete with the Japanese. Due to which, many American SME’s got shut down or eventually went bankrupt amidst this. One of the famous examples for a successful manufacturing company to transition to a financial firm is GE to GE Capital, under the leadership of Jack Welch. The company not only lost its manufacturing share, but also suffered from bankruptcy ahead in 2008 crisis. Here is one insightful article on GE’s failure: https://chiefexecutive.net/who-killed-ge-not-jeff-immelt/
Then, the fall of Soviet Union and the end of cold war in 1991 proved out to be another factor for the continuation of US reliance on China for manufacturing. Due to the unexpected disintegration of former USSR, USA suddenly became the world’s only remaining superpower. This led to complacency in US outlook towards the other countries of the world. As no nation after Soviet Union (Japan did so only economically, but suffered stagflation in the beginning of 1990’s) had the capability to challenge USA ( USSR had confronted and even exceeded USA in many fields. Refer to my post for more info on this: https://abhiknotes.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/why-did-soviet-union-lose-the-cold-war/) Hence, USA continued the scaling up of the manufacturing in China and even naively assumed that like Russia, China would also embrace democracy as Russia had done so in 1990’s ( which failed on an epic scale). Also, as China’s economic model was based on capitalism, and having allowed American companies to manufacture and invest in China, the industrial lobby did not want for another conflict to arise in Asia. Thus, wall street led economic interests led to the continuation of the “Made in China” policy.
The fifth factor to add in this is the tech revolution in silicon valley. The 1990’s decade was the dot com era and internet was the buzz word in the valley. Hundreds of startups were opened everyday, and today’s tech giants such as google, ebay, paypal, amazon were started during that era. Later, facebook, twitter, snap, whatsapp dominated the 2000’s decade of tech revolution. Due to this tech boom, the traditional manufacturing dependent US economy was replaced by the software revolution. Manufacturing became out of fashion, and with the sole exception of Elon Musk, everyone was busy starting companies and funding the software and social media startups. Hence, this also proved detrimental for the US to cut down its manufacturing, and embrace service based model. Even hardware giants like Apple and Dell switched over to manufacture their Iphones and PC’s in China. As famously said by Peter Thiel, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters” https://som.yale.edu/blog/peter-thiel-at-yale-we-wanted-flying-cars-instead-we-got-140-characters Only Elon Musk stood out of the silicon valley’s internet savvy crowd with his bold attempts to get his hands dirty in manufacturing by starting Tesla and SpaceX. Today, fortunately for America, Elon Musk stands as an inspiration for “Make in America” movement ( though he came in US as an immigrant…unrelated to this topic, we can cover later someday..)
Then, Bush election, 9/11 and US involvement in Iraq-Afghan war led to tremendous military expenditure and drifted US away from looking into the flaws it had created by its dependence on China. Bush and his team boasted over-confidently about US superiority and due to the Bush & Family obsession with Iraq, Saddam Hussein & oil, China took advantage of the US policy, copied US products, and violated the trade agreements by the continued IP theft. On the other side, China started its own companies to compete with US ( such as Alibaba against Amazon).
Finally, the global recession and sub-prime crisis in 2007-08 led to the eventual collapse of many US firms ( financial as well as manufacturing), and which thereby led to increased dependence on China for imports. In 2010, China’s global manufacturing exceeded more than USA. Since 2008, Chinese dragon has transformed itself into a giant, and unlike the passive Chinese policy before 2008, China today has been very aggressive in pushing its policies across the world. It has achieved”World’s factory” status and with its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), it has challenged USA and the western world (+Japan) with its gigantic construction projects of railroad, bridges, ports, highways, pipelines in different parts of the world. Having world largest US Dollar reserves apart from US, China’s strategy to loan money to poor countries and then forcefully acquire their strategic resources under the pretense of loan repayment default has widely gained notoriety (Sri Lanka had to handover the Hambantota port https://www.csis.org/analysis/game-loans-how-china-bought-hambantota
Starting from 1979 with the opening up of China to the world, until 2019, when the trade war between USA and China had boiled up, and by the end of year, coronavirus from China made the news, it took 40 years for China to rise to the current economic superpower status. The dragon has risen, and its ambitions are like expulsion of fire to engulf the world. That fire has burnt ( still burning..) the world in the form of coronavirus. Also, there are many other reasons besides economic one to get concerned of chinese ambitions.
China, has border conflicts with most of its neighbors such as India, Taiwan Vietnam, Hong Kong etc.
It has consistently supported North Korea, a terrorist state and assisted its nuclear programme.
With its “String of Pearls” theory, it plans to block India and thereby control the Indian ocean. This is of high security concern, not only for India, but also for the other QUAD nations, including USA, Japan and Australia.
China has committed human rights violations against the Xinjiang province Uighur muslims
China uses face recognition and AI technology to spy on its own citizens and has transformed the country into a “ironwall”
China manufactures and exports products ( and virus as well..) to other parts of the world, but does not allow other countries imports to compete with its own products. We can see google being banned in China, and replaced by Baidu. Similarly, Wechat, Tiktok, Alibaba, Huawei have replaced its US and other customers, with the assistance of communist government.
Most recently, the suppression of information regarding coronavirus, and its delayed acceptance of the existence of virus, coupled with yielded influence of China over WHO has alarmed the world of China’s menace.
Thus, it has become imperative for the world to adopt a new policy towards China, and actively confront in the realpolitik game.