The New Cold War: as of July 2023

by John M Repp

There are many reasons for the new cold war with Russia and China. After promising not to move NATO east of what had been the Soviet Union, the new governments that formed in the east European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union, were invited into NATO. We now know our national security people knew they crossed a red line when they did that. On February 24, 2022, Russia has invaded Ukraine. The U.S. is supplying a massive number of weapons to Ukraine, so we are in a proxy war with Russia, some say a real war.

And now China has made the most amazing change in their economy in the last 70 years.  To put this in perspective, in 1820 China was 1/3 or about 30 percent of the world economy. Then the European powers took control of China and divided it up between them. By 1950 China was just 5% of the world economy.  We should see that the 1949 revolution was really a national liberation struggle that Chairman Mao led.

In 2023 China is 18.92 percent of the world economy. The U.S. is 15.39. (This way of measuring the relative size puts the huge U.S. financial sector, the speculating non-producers, is perspective.) China has risen to the status of the world’s biggest manufacturing economy. In 70 years, China has become one of the world’s wealthiest economies, from being one of the poorest after 1949. This is a radical change in the geopolitics of the world.  Now , China also has the world’s largest navy by numbers of ships.

China did not do this with a centrally planned economy which was the Russian Soviet model after the 1917 Russian revolution. China used what they call “market socialism.” Many of the big companies are owned by the government, but a market, not a central plan, determines their relationships with each other and the world. There is a national plan but it is a plan not a rigid framework. The financial and corporate elites in the Western world moved many factories to China to take advantage of the cheap labor:  that was a huge factor in the turnaround of China’s position in the world.

Wisely, the Chinese companies made sure that the western companies shared the technology with the Chinese. That was the deal. And now the West, especially the United States is trying to compete in the manufacturing sector again. Our leaders don’t want to break with neoliberalism i.e. “free trade” and pass tariffs like what Alexander Hamilton recommended to George Washington that eventually led to the economic development of the United States, although this is starting to change.

There is a very long-term downside for China. With global warming, they might lose much of their arable land. James Hansen predicts in his new not yet published nor peer-reviewed paper, that we are headed for a 60-meter sea level rise in an ice-free world if we don’t make a drastic change. The sixty (60) meter rise in sea level will flood much of China’s traditional agricultural fields, not to speak of many of the world’s big cities.  Most Americans don’t know that almost two-thirds of China is mountainous with many small villages. Those villages are from where many of the people who now work in factories come from. In response to global warming, China is now manufacturing solar panels and windmills as fast as they can.

The United States has surrounded China with U.S. military bases. And the leader of China Xi Jinping is saying they want Taiwan back into the People’s Republic. The United States has a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan. No wonder people who watch the global geopolitical rivalry and the buildup of nuclear weapons say this is a very dangerous time for humanity. The so-called “great powers”(U.S., Russia, and China) should focus on cooperation in order to mitigate climate change rather than engage in geopolitical struggle that has resulted in the rise and fall of so many empires over the thousands of years of what we call “civilization