Donald Trump has been elected the new president of the United States. China and America, since their mutual diplomatic recognition in 1979, started diplomatic relations and amended any serious conflict of interest in last 37 years. Instead, they developed a deep economic partnership - the world assumed. But it seems the situation tumbled down when Trump won and we are getting the idea that China is the biggest eyesore of America. ‘China is the source of every problem’, Trump rooted in every American’s mind. And it seems that a China-phobia will increase in every coming days.
Recently Taiwan’s current president Tsai Ing-wen called Trump to congratulate him on his presidential election win. Trump, receiving the so-called “Courtesy call” and his subsequent conversation prompted huge commotion. Why is that? When There were other Head of state who greeted US President-elect on phone calls. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe even visited Trump as well, so why all of these buzz surrounding Taiwan. To put this matter into context I will do a brief analysis of China-America relation, starting from just after the second world war (WWII).
How can we evaluate the second world war? When answering this question, Academics and intellectuals of Indian subcontinental region follow the British or European aspects almost entirely. Perhaps the main reason of such biasness is our mindset , and we understand the only available source of information then in our reach had was derived from European sources. So the limited information was the culprit responsible. The media-technology was minimal in that era, it was not easy to access information from any corner in the world like today’s age of the internet. As a result, availability of information outside the colony master or other European master was not simply possible as there were no alternative sources. And moreover, we can understand a British source can’t present us the US version of the story, especially when British govt got the support of US after begging for it.
In this respect we can remember the “Atlantic Charter” which is nothing but a document depicting subordination of British Empire to the US President. The then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill signed jointly with then US President Roosevelt a document, certain common principles of understanding, called the “Atlantic Charter” on 14 August 1941. Of the 8 point of that document says like, the signatory agreed that they “deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries” and in point no. three they says, “they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored….”. Is not it really a interesting dcument? A colonial master, British Empire agreed that it respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live” and not only that they wish to see people’s “sovereign rights and self government restored”. That means, colonial master British PM Churchchill said that British-Indian People are “sovreign”, they are “free” from their colonial master! So it is clear from this “Atlantic Charter” agreement that it was a document of extreme humiliation for British Empire. By This document the British are dictated by US and They become subordinated to US. So British were not the leader. Rather Churchchill was in a vernerable sutiation and forced to sign in that subordinate agreement. And thus USA was the real leader and winner of the war. Many might still want to argue this fact, someone may bring up the British or the Soviet Union as a contender, But the answer will remain same. At best, it can be said that Britain and the Soviet Union was only a parter of US-led “Allied forces” of WWII. Let’s make another point like, the economic and military strength that allied forces had was exclusively Americas capability. Not only that, Let’s put another decisive factor in motion like, The way the war was planned and conducted and the way it concluded as well was determined by America, not by any other country. How to prove that? I will refer two points. One of the point I mentioned just earlier. Like, only America had the sole economic and military capability of the war. About two and a half year after the war began in 1939, America joined in 1942 and since joining they shared their capability with allied nations. Starting from general consumer goods like sugar to military aircraft, helicopters, whole warship, even soldiers uniform everything was on the list of American supply. That means America lent (it is not free, purposefully the word was chosen in the legal document) all these supply to Britain, the Soviet Union and other allied nation, and it was done under the Lend-Lease Act 1941 of USA . It was a type of lending where nothing was specified like when & how the debtors will pay back or will they pay back at all - these things were intentionally omitted. After they won the WWII majority of these lending cost had been exempted. Rest were paid back in a long term of installments with only 2% interest. Thus, America’s capability helped establish their leadership and authority.
Regarding the second evidence which I will focus on is an obvious fact and which is still live in the 21st century. Because, from right after WWII to this very day United states is the superpower and Leader in running the Global Economic order. Since USA joined WWII they successfully managed to do everything in accordance with their dream. Not only that, how the world order would be, how it looked like after the war was also formulated solely by America. In that case, Britain and the Soviet Union was just the associate of war and only wanted to ensure their respective self interest within America’s overall plan. The authoritative role that decided the fate of the world was played by the USA alone, no other nation in the allied force group.
For America, WWII was the final nail in the coffin of colony system prevailed before, primarily by Britain, France and other European Colonial masters. America planned and put an end of the Colonial relation so that in turn freed States, freed from colonial rule who would be in dire need of investment in post colonial situation and thus would be the new clients for Wall street, the Global investment Capital market. Thus a huge exchange of product, investment, comodity, raw meterial, technology everything will find a situation like gate opened dam water and destined to be global. As a result global exchange would widespread all over, so is a global capitalism; which now we labeled as globalization. In the old colony system Trades and transaction which were trapped then become exposed to new potential.
America directed World War II with a goal of implementing this new world system.
In those days of Colonial system, Colonial Masters (like British, French, Dutch, Spanish & Portugese) all from Europe were the center of every discussion. Asia and others (later except USA since 1776) were their slave countries, dwindled behind them. After WWII, Least focused Asia became relevant under America’s new grand scheme. During the war, alongside with German’s Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini, Asia’s Japan Empire was also third major leader in “Axis side” of WWII alinement. China and Korea were Japan’s colony. For that exact reason, America took the policy to crash Japan empire while encouraging China to fill the gap in Asia. It was clear in America’s mind at least the huge population of China, means big local market of China is the potential to become a big economy. So suppressing Japan’s political power was in USA agenda as well is nothing surprising as they were on the enemy side of the WWII.
Important fact is even In the post war situation America only had the capability to provide investment for the reconstruction of the war-torn economy of whole Europe. So in terms of reconstruction investment and even providing the aid & relief work where needed the only source of fund was USA.
So, this is the third point of my argument that USA lead the WWII and even the post war situation. In post WWII generally, USA had three type of role. First type: Helped them by reconstruction investment to those who were members of “Allied Forces” as those are the US lead group of countries fought in WWII. Second type: US helped them by reconstruction investment to those countries who were in the enemy group, “Axis force” like Germany and Japan as well. But here the exception is the reconstruction had done only under no German or Japanese Political leadership. Rather under a newly formed local administration but it was leaded by American. If we can remember the Post Saddam of Iraq in 2003. Iraq, the newly formed Iraq govt. was run by a US govt employed Administrator, name Paul Bremer. In the same way in Post WWII, German & Japan were run by American administrator’s like “Paul Bremers”. Third type: Best example for that was Italy. It was just like the above type two, but with the extra feature like, USA had to run aid & relief work as well to avoid a famine. literally people there were begging and expecting relief from America in the name of Jesus.
I hope now we can understand and find a clue in our time why every Infrastructure investment Bank like World Bank in their nomenclature we find a word – ‘RECONSTRUCTION’.
So America is the leader of WWII and the post WWII.
As per America’s plan, since then & still now we can see Japan is weak in political leadership but strong in economic leadership in the sense of Global perspective. Because sinse then, In Global politics Japan is represented by USA. In contrast, course of China was different. Since then It was decided in American policy to cover the gap of absense of Japan which would be filled up by China. So China was always dear to America and their policy, which I would like to focus now.
America’s interest in post-war was guided by the idea that how World should looked like. That was the primary concern for their every decision and arrangement. To shape the post WWII World as per Roosevelt’s America’s dream he proposed to form four diffferent multilateral global organization, to bring the globe under a system leaded by America. One of the definitive is the formation of United Nations (UN). Four-time president and one of America’s most influential person Franklin D. Roosevelt had the idea of something like United Nations. He proposed this idea during his third (1941 Jan-1944 Jan) tenure as president. The security council is the main political decision-making body within United Nations. Security council consist of 15 council members including 5 permanent members who has veto power. Veto power means they can block any would be decision alone despite all other members together against. And the rest ten non-veto members are temporary and chosen from different continental region on a rotation basis. These ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly, thus the Total is fifteen. From the beginning five countries who have veto power are Britain, and France chosen from Europe, the Soviet Union now turned Russia (chosen for the then different political system), Roosevelt’s the United States and China from Asia. China’s getting veto power membership was also part of Roosevelt’s plan. This is the sign of rebuilding Asia with China keeping it in the center bassing Japan.
Now the question is, what version of China? The question is a genuine one in present context, but not in the context of then in 1945. Clearly, we need to remember that in 1945 it was not Mao Tse Tung’s China rather it was nationalist Leader Premier Chiang Kai-shek’s China. And by no means, it was Taiwan but China including Taiwan. The reason we are not referring Mao’s China because Chinese communist revolution took place after WWII, not because that he was communist. China got veto power in 1945 when security council was formed and the revolution happened was in 1949, 4 years later.
With this Mao’s revolution, new problems appeared. At the end of Mao’s revolutionary takeover, the then ruling Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan island from mainland China . Meanwhile, as the Revolutionary forces seize the control of mainland and the capital Beijing, the deflect the Taiwan issue. War-weary soldiers and worker’s mindset was like “to take over Taiwan later any day, let’s now rebuild Beijing”, and Mao also focused on that. China is paying the price for that mistake which now is a big problem. With Mao’s revolution American dreams broken apart as well. So they refused to recognize the new Mao’s government of China and continued to support Kai-shek’s old government then in Taiwan. As a result, the government regulated form Taiwan became the representative of whole China to the USA. And Mao’s revolution and Beijing government were disavowed to both America and United Nation. So as Chairman Mao’s China was denied from United nation’s membership.
The most fascinating facts is that Taiwan, a small island retained the power of veto as a permanent UN security council member.
For how long? Up to October 1971. But what is the reason? And is the birth of Bangladesh related to that in any way? Yes, it is! This topic will continue next time.
Goutam Das: Dhaka based Political Analyst