By Neenah Payne
General David Petraeus warns in China’s Vision of Victory: “The extraordinary rise of China is unprecedented in world history and the biggest geopolitical development of the first two decades of the 21st Century.” The cover shows the Statue of Liberty drowning! It says to understand China’s global agenda, the West must understand China’s 5,000 year history. To do so exposes Western history in a way that will shock most Westerners. China is a mirror in which the West can see itself — and the image is not flattering.
The book explains:
“What we are verging on for our country — even for our world — is the prospect of a ‘Chinese Century’….what we are witnessing, in word and deed, is China’s ambition to become the world’s supreme power and, in doing so, to transform human history….China’s leaders are designing and executing an ascendance to power on a global scale not seen since the British Empire…. By 2030, if current trends hold, China will surpass the United States as the world’s top economic power in absolute terms….The United States stands to witness a colossal turning point in less than a generation’s time.”
The book points out that “China’s strategy is a global grand strategy….This brings me to my last point: the necessity for the United States to develop a grand strategy of its own. We cannot compete successfully with China without one.” It adds: “First, we must understand China.” However, the West must also understand its own history — as others see it. The West has been living a fiction that the rise of China exposes before the world. It is this truth that is China’s greatest strength — and the West’s greatest weakness. This is primarily a philosophical shift.
The Growing Rise of China
“The age of Western dominance is now over. America is, for all intents and purposes, bankrupt and it will be almost impossible for that nation to repay its debts. As soon as the American dollar ceases to be the reserve currency of the world, a drastic decline in living standards will inevitably and rapidly follow. Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain are also crippled by high debts that they will not be able to pay back….The industrial supremacy of the West, a supremacy that began with the Industrial Revolution in England in 1760, and has lasted almost 250 years, is over: China is leading the world in production of very fast trains; Japan is leading the world in the production of high quality automobiles.”
China is now the biggest trader in goods and the largest trade partner for 126 countries. Developing nations are following China’s example. In 1978, China ranked #9 in GDP, but was #2 by 2010. While America has fought the 20-year War on Terror, China has been expanding domestically and globally.
China’s Many Powerful Gifts To Europe
One Belt One Road Documentary Episode One: Common Fate says the old Silk Road was the center of trade, knowledge, and civilization from East to West. It was the most advanced trade corridor in the world and was the center of knowledge and civilization 2,000 years ago. The video explains, “This Silk Road spirit embraced peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefit”.
In The Silk Road: Ten Thousand Miles through Central Asia, Swedish explorer Sven Hedin wrote:
“It can be said without exaggeration that this traffic artery through the old world is the longest, and from a cultural-historical standpoint, the most significant connecting link between peoples and continents that has ever existed on Earth.”
China introduced silk, paper and printing, spices, the nautical compass, gun powder, and medicines to Europe. Francis Bacon wrote, “Printing, gun powder, and the nautical compass have altered the fate and face of the world”. The compass and gun powder allowed Europe to conquer the Western hemisphere and Africa. Paper and printing allowed the spread of information through books and newspapers.
Under the Tang Dynasty, the prosperity of the Silk Road made its capital an international metropolis by the 8th century, attracting tens of thousands of students and merchants from abroad. It was the world’s largest capital city — seven times bigger than Constantinople (Istanbul). By the 11th century, there were more than 50 Chinese cities with more than 100,000 people while the population of the largest European city reached just 20,000. Constantinople, Venice, and other cities which sprang up on the Silk Road prospered. During the Song dynasty, the world’s first paper currency went into circulation — facilitating trade and boosting prosperity.
Europeans realized that to become wealthy, they had to go to China. Marco Polo traveled to China to acquire its wonders. China Railway Express: From Silk Road to Silk Railroad Two says Marco Polo’s reports of China eventually led Christopher Columbus to pursue a westward path to the wealth of the Indies. Thinking he had arrived in India, Columbus called the peoples of the Americas “Indians”.
A Chinese admiral had sailed to Africa seven times and brought trade to more than 30 countries. This was one of the most remarkable endeavors in the history of the maritime Silk Road. Fifty years later, Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan began their expeditions in the so-called “Age of Discovery” which set Europeans on the path of expansion, trade monopoly, and widespread colonization which included theft of continents, genocide, and slavery.
So, while China’s civilization (and those of Egypt, India, and the Moors) empowered Europe in multiple ways, the West used its power to rob and enslave much the world — eventually even China, India, and the Moors — its benefactors. Yet, the fiction of White Supremacy still claims that the West alone invented everything and no other nation contributed anything to the world. The rise of China now confronts the West with the truth of history.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Has Gone Global
The New Silk Roads: The New Asia and the Remaking of the World Order by Peter Frankopan says: “All roads used to lead to Rome. Today they lead to Beijing.”
This Silk Road spirit was one of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefits. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World shows that understanding the old Silk Road provides a deeper understanding of China’s role in history – and how China is changing the world today with its Belt & Road Initiative and collaboration in infrastructure projects in Africa.
“One Belt One Road Documentary Episode One: Common Fate,” seen above, reports that when China was smelting iron, Europe lagged far behind. Iron smelting was thriving in the Western Han Empire where a single furnace could produce over a ton of cast iron a day. The iron was made into tools which were used to produce food for the empire’s 60 million people and trade.
China: Time of Xi (Episode #3) All Aboard says that when China hosted the G20 meeting in 2016 for the first time, President Xi articulated a new mindset. It is a global vision based on collaboration in the recognition of a shared destiny. The rise of China is setting a new bar in many fields. China launched the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2015 to help empower other countries. It now serves as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund which embroiled many nations in debt.
When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order: Second Edition is by Dr. Martin Jacques who predicts that China’s economic power is likely to be much greater than any we have ever seen. He points out that the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) represents a model built in the developing world rather than one based in the developed world. He predicts that Eurasia will strongly turn toward China as a role model for development and culture – just as countries used to look to America. China is going to become much more important than it is now. The BRI is one of the most important ways of thinking worldwide since World War II. He says it is making sure the world sees China as a partner rather than as a threat because it is seen as promoting collaboration.
From Domination To Collaboration
“One Belt One Road Documentary Episode One: Common Fate,” as seen above, explains that after World War II, mass liberation movements swept across Asia and Africa. The new countries that emerged faced a common challenge — the need for development. In Bandung, Indonesia in 1955, the first Asian-African conference gave rise to “The Bandung Spirit”, the essence of which is greater unity among the developing countries. This is seen as the origin of “South-South cooperation”, a new model of cooperation.
Previously, cooperation had been between developed and developing countries — colonial and colonized countries. It was never equal. However, South-South cooperation prioritizing equality began at the Bandung Conference. A consensus emerged that the world needed a major economic link between Europe and Asia — a new Silk Road. President Xi’s Belt & Road Initiative aims at restoring the glory of the Eurasia region. The BRI, which takes its inspiration from the ancient Silk Road, aims to fulfill the dreams shared by people worldwide for peace and development and the pursuit of common prosperity.
The documentary adds “Peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit are themes that are dominating the 21st century.”
The destiny and interests of the world and China are — once again — becoming more closely interwoven. The world’s countries are recognizing that promoting mutually-beneficial cooperation is a necessity. This can be achieved only by integrating their development strategies and is now an urgent demand. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi pointed out that this new vision reflects the old Silk Road which was from China to Venice and now is coming back. He said it took a few centuries to do it, but it’s happening now.
The shift is not just economic, but philosophical — from domination to collaboration. The West can join this party by collaborating with other peoples in ways that acknowledge their profound contributions to the world. This is an age that demands mutual respect.
China’s Rise Challenges The Myth of “White Supremacy”
America believes that its ideology is democracy based on God-given rights secured by The Declaration of Independence. However, the immortal words “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”, were written by Thomas Jefferson — a slaveholder who (unlike George Washington) refused to free his slaves in his will. He failed to free even Sally Hemings, his wife’s half-sister by whom he reportedly had six children. The principles have been observed often more in the breach than in fact.
Much of the world see the ideology of the West not as not democracy and freedom, but as the myth of “White Supremacy” which maintains that only the West has contributed anything and all other cultures and peoples are inferior, primitive, and backwards. It was on the basis of White Supremacy that Europe felt entitled to steal the Americas from ancient civilizations — many far more advanced than those of Europe. It was on the basis of White Supremacy that America stole millions of Africa’s peoples and enslaved them in the most brutal system of slavery ever known. In the 19th century, the West humiliated China in the Opium Wars for what China now calls its Century of Humiliation.
So, in this global power shift, the West has no moral ground on which to stand. That is the West’s real weakness — not its growing economic bankruptcy, its loss of the technological lead, or its crumbling infrastructure. The West has a record of theft of continents, genocide, slavery — and denial of other nations’ contributions to the world.
As China rises now, the West’s deep unacknowledged debts to Egypt, China, India, Moors, Africa, and Native America are becoming clear. The myth of “White Supremacy” served for 500 years as a fiction to justify theft, genocide, and slavery. Now, it indicts the West. The West is not just economically bankrupt. It looks morally bankrupt. These are hard truths to face.
The advice, “Know thyself” was above every temple in ancient Egypt. It is futile for the West to study China’s rise to power now without taking time to know itself and to acknowledge that Europe’s debt to other cultures is deep. Europe and America as we know them could not have existed without the input of these other great civilizations. However, this article focuses just on the West’s debt to ancient China.
Since Europe and America have been dominant for 500 years, they have not had to face the fact that there are two ways to use power. The first is constructively — to benefit others in collaborative win-win exchanges. The second is abusively as the West has often done. The West has seen itself as the “good guys” spreading civilization to a backwards world. So, it will be shock for most Westerners to take a look at the history of the last 5,000 years from a different perspective. The West is repeating its mistakes now in the endless War on Terror which many see as a War OF Terror.
The Rise and Fall of the West by Matt Buttsworth says:
“This book is a study of the Polarshifts that created the modern world and are transforming it now. It is a long term historical consideration of what factors led to the rise of the West, what factors have led to the decline of the West, and what factors are now leading to the rise of the Asian powers to global economic dominance and the consequences of these epoch-changing events. The very poles of the Earth are changing, and we must understand and react to it.”
The West must now be honest about its own history. “The truth shall set you free”.
China As The Center Of the World — Again
The character for “China” represents the Middle Kingdom — the center of the world. China plans to be the center of the world again in the 21st century. The world is increasingly taking note now.
Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze
Top image credit: Slideshare
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