There are two central facts about China today. The first is that the country has just experienced a period of economic growth the likes of which the world had never before seen. The second is that it is ruled, increasingly dictatorially, by an unelected communist party that puts people in prison for their convictions and limits all forms of free expression and association.
We see a capitalist system run by a communist party. But unlike the Soviet bloc in the Cold War era, walled in Marxist ideology, China’s leadership is more than flexible in such ideological issues and economically successful.
Two developments are foreseeable for the near future:
China`s economic importance will increase and the U.S.-Chinese competition will turn not just on hard power but also on each country’s ability to command the moral high ground.
The polarization of China and the United States will not result in another Cold War scenario, but their mutual distrust will ultimately drive the world center from Europe to East Asia.
China is preparing to be the dominant power in a post-liberal world. It`s dominating influence can only be limited, if in the Western World two things happen. The US should not only rely on its economic strength but on the liberal, creative and democratic values that have made it strong. And Europe must not fall back into nationalist sectionalism, but must develop its unity and operate in a community of values together with the US.
At the moment there are some developments that can not make us optimistic. Trump in the WH doesn`t see anything but bilateralism and enemies in his own country and in the Western World. Boris Johnson in the UK tries his very best to ruin his country and other nationalist and right-wing tendencies are a danger to the development of a united and strong Europe.
But the values of the free world have in the past proven to be stronger than all fascist and communist threats. I am deeply convinced that this can also be in future, if we stand together to these values.