By Brian E Plummer
Most countries have had to adjust to US dominance of global affairs. The Caribbean’s relationship with the US is complex, but enduring, as a result of the 1821 Monroe Doctrine that designated the region under US sphere of influence.
During the cold war between the Soviet Union and the US the Caribbean was both a beneficiary and victim of US power. The Caribbean Basin Initiative helped the region to develop while US intervention in Guyana, Grenada, and Jamaica precipitated major social upheaval.
Today the world has changed. The US is not the only hegemon. China has risen to be a global leader with the second-largest economy in nominal terms, but the largest in terms of purchasing power, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In 2013, China launched its Belt and Road Initiative. So far, China has invested US $1 trillion in hard and soft infrastructure and has signed memoranda of understanding with 138 countries. A recent White House document states, “… the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] has chosen to exploit a free and open system and rule-based order and attempt to reshape the international system in its favour”.
There is a global competition between China and US for global dominance. The novel coronavirus pandemic has enhanced this fight for power. COVID-19 has highlighted the world’s dependence on China for manufactured products and the weakening of US power. The US’ inability to manage the pandemic and its mismanagement of the George Floyd police killing has pulverised the US’ majestic status.
I view the US Constitution as the greatest political document, but if they could dutifully implement it. The foundation of US power is the US dollar being the world reserve currency. But the US’s debt is US $26.3 trillion, which is 132 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Some 51 cents of every dollar the US spends is borrowed.
According to Peter Shift, US economist, and Stephen Roach, a Yale University economist, the US dollar’s exorbitant privilege as the world’s reserve currency is coming to an end. The fact that Iran has made many shipments of fuel and food to Venezuela, and US tried to prevent this but was impotent, demonstrates the US is no longer the ‘master of the universe’. It is best to have China and US equally matched to preserve global flexibility, but China’s global power is starting to eclipse US.
The US pulling out of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other international initiatives weakens US global leadership. Conversely, China is on the rise with her ‘Made in China 2025’ and ‘China Standards 2035’. China will spend US $14 trillion on digital infrastructure in order to dominate in technologies and industries of the future. Huawei owns most of the patent on 5G technology; therefore, any use of 5G technology benefits Huawei, and that is why the US reversed its policy on Huawei.
Jamaica trades with both China and the US. In my view, it does not matter which country dominates the world because power corrupts. Global politics is similar to local politics; leaders do what benefit them and candy coat their intentions. Jamaica must secure its own interest because global hegemon reward is small, but the extraction is large. (Jamaica Observer)
Thoughts and views expressed in guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Observer NewsCo, its management or staff.