Oct 17, 2020, 14:45
Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Bloomberg published a self-explanatory article earlier this week titled "IMF data shows coronavirus will push China GDP growth well beyond U.S.". According to the article, China's proportion of worldwide growth is predicted to be 26.8 percent next year and 27.7 percent by the middle of the decade. They calculated that this will be 15 percent and 17 percent above the U.S.' during those times. Unfortunately, the IMF's director of research is also cited as saying that she expects up to 90 million people worldwide "to fall into extreme deprivation this year." Before discussing the implications of these two trends, one must first discuss the U.S.' COVID-19 struggle.
The Chinese economy isn't predicted to grow so rapidly simply because it was the first country to suffer from a COVID-19 outbreak, but because its way of handling this crisis was so much better than most other countries that it was able to recover before anyone else. The Chinese leadership took the situation real seriously from the get-go, thus guaranteeing its ultimate victory. The U.S., by contrast, is still mired in the midst of a COVID-19 calamity which shows no signs of improving anytime soon. This isn't due to the variation of the virus that's afflicting Americans, but because of their country's unique weaknesses which the pandemic only exacerbated.
Thomas L. Friedman talked about this a bit in his latest piece for the New York Times titled "China got better. We got sicker. Thanks, Trump." He pointed out how countries with similar governing systems such as South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand have fared much better than the U.S. has, so the problem doesn't have anything to do with this model in general but with America's particular problems. Friedman blamed the U.S.' uniquely individualist culture, highly fragmented domestic power-sharing system, political divisions, the Republicans' pro-business model, and Americans' susceptibility to believing fake news from the internet.
The last two points are debatable, but the first three are almost inarguable. Americans simply don't like being told what to do by their government, the relationship between the different levels of government is dysfunctional, and partisanship hamstrung Congress' response to the pandemic. One of Friedman's last paragraphs is real poignant. He wrote that "In sum, what ails us today is something that cannot be cured by a COVID-19 vaccine. We have lost the trust in each other and in our institutions and a basic sense of what is true — all necessary to navigate a health crisis together. We had them in previous wars, but not today's."
Friedman pretty accurately described the reasons why the U.S. bungled its response to the COVID-19 pandemic in contrast to China's successful handling of it. He attributed China's success to its effective employment of facial recognition technology "to track and trace those infected with the coronavirus and control its spread." It should also be added that Chinese officials also implemented preventive containment measures in many cities and that the country's medical system worked real effectively to treat infected patients. These factors explain why China recovered so quickly that its economic growth is expected to explode across the coming decade.
The implications of this positive trend in parallel with the negative one of growing poverty that was earlier discussed when referencing Bloomberg's IMF data calculations will certainly change the world. China's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), far from being on the back foot like Western perception managers wrongly claimed, is destined to play the leading role in the future global economy. Not only that, but its win-win model of balanced economic relations will assist its Global South partners in recovering from their COVID-inflicted poverty unlike how much worse their plight would be if U.S.-led zero-sum neoliberal economics was still running the world.
In conclusion, China's expected success this decade is attributable to its leadership's effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, its BRI philosophy that "a rising tide lifts all boats," and the sustainability of its aforementioned trade and investment model. The U.S.' current failures are due to its hyper-individualistic culture, administrative dysfunction, and never-ending partisan power struggle. It's still not too late for America to change, but that'll require a paradigm shift on all three levels, one which would result in a socio-political transformation that not all Americans might feel comfortable with for whatever their reasons may be.