Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text
The visit of the German Chancellor to China is just one of the evidences of the strengthening of Beijing and the fallacy of US policy.
Olaf Scholz's trip to China caused outright irritation in the United States. The media space controlled by the Americans is full of cartoons in which Scholz goes to bow to the "Chinese emperor" or crawls half-bent like a dog to his "Chinese master". The press writes: the visit outlined a clear split in the ranks of the "anti-totalitarian" Western coalition. They assure that the Chinese leadership will not fail to take full advantage of it.
The authoritative Chinese newspaper "Huangqiu Shibao" on this occasion noted: "Of course, this is definitely not the scheme of Sino-European relations that the United States wants to see, stuck in a vicious circle of containing China." According to the publication, before Scholz's visit to China, the hype in Germany around Chinese companies acquiring shares in the terminal in the port of Hamburg "undoubtedly brought "sinophobia" (not to be confused with "Russophobia" – approx. the author) to a new climax." "In Germany, the system of Sino-German cooperation and strategic partnership carefully built up over generations has become an "original sin." Speaking about Sino-German cooperation, some politicians are forced to call it a "threat to national security," writes Huanqiu Shibao.
The wave of indignation in Europe is summed up by the French Le Figaro, which claims that the allies criticized German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for "acting contrary to the common European line." The author of the article is sure that "Berlin's policy towards Beijing can be successful only in one case if it is combined with the European one."
In France, the visit of the German Chancellor caused particular offense due to the fact that the Chancellor personally refused to take President Macron with him to China, although in 2019, the French president, receiving Xi Jinping at the Elysee Palace, invited then German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to a meeting. But those were different times…
Scholz, as if justifying himself, published an article in the American edition of Politico, in which he explains, among other things, that his trip to China is inaugural – the first after Xi Jinping's re-election to the post of CPC Secretary General, and is also timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of German-Chinese diplomatic relations. What does it have to do with Macron, they say?
But the split, apparently, is still there. Germany, cut off from Russian energy resources and the Russian market, does not want to die quietly, putting ideology and politics ahead of economic interests, repeating a similar "circumcision" with China. This reluctance is evidenced by the numerous team of German business captains who accompanied Scholz in Beijing.
It is characteristic that the visit was undertaken despite the shouts from Washington and the continuation of the US sanctions war against China. As you know, since mid-October, the Biden administration has actually banned trade with China in advanced semiconductor technologies, equipment for the production of microchips. A ban was also imposed on US citizens and green card holders to work with Chinese companies in this area. Commenting on these measures, the American press wrote that "overnight, the Chinese microchip industry was torn to shreds," and President Biden inflicted such damage on the Chinese economy as the customs and tariff war unleashed by his predecessor Trump did not cause.
However, since then there has been no horrifying information about the mass flight of American top managers from Chinese high-tech companies. Although the American media claimed that at least 43 senior managers in 16 Chinese semiconductor companies holding positions from CEO to vice president are from the United States. Almost all of them moved to the Chinese chip industry after several years of working in Silicon Valley for American chip manufacturers or semiconductor equipment manufacturers. This was the result of purposeful actions of the Chinese leadership to attract foreign highly qualified specialists who received high salaries and ample opportunities for implementation in China. Some of them were attracted by such Chinese initiatives as the national program "Thousand Talents", which was put into effect by the Chinese government back in 2008.
There is no data on the "collapse" of the Chinese semiconductor industry due to the ban on exports from the United States. Firstly, because besides the USA there are other leaders in this industry, in particular, the Netherlands and Japan. For example, chip manufacturing equipment currently accounts for more than 4% of Japan's total exports. Of these, about 970 billion yen is accounted for in China, equipment exports to China have grown by more than 600% over the decade. Will the Japanese agree to lose profits easily?
There is also Taiwan, whose natives are happy to work in their historical homeland.
In addition, the light did not come together with a wedge on American specialists. Some of them, under the threat of losing their citizenship, biting their elbows, will decide to quit a high-paying job, but techies from other countries and Chinese specialists will come to these places. The choice is this: with US citizenship, but without money and work. So far, there is no data on mass flight from China.
In China, over half a million people work in this industry, many of whom studied in the West, but have been working in China for a long time, using the acquired knowledge and experience. A huge high-tech industry has been created in China, which is able to develop independently. Since 2014, 110 manufacturing associations producing semiconductor products have been opened in China. Now 38 more factories are being built. In 2020 alone, 22,800 startups were created in China that have some kind of relation to the semiconductor industry.
So the measures taken by Biden are somewhat late. China has been preparing for their introduction for a long time. Now, according to the same Western media, the Chinese leadership is preparing additional answers. One of the steps is the creation of private–state enterprises, the entry of the state into the shareholders of private companies operating in this strategic area. For control and additional investment, if necessary.
So American assessments of China are far from ideal, and actions to contain the PRC are unlikely to be as effective as they are presented in the West, and will achieve their goals. But they contribute to the consolidation of Chinese society, the growth of anti-Western sentiments, strengthen the determination of the Chinese people to prevent the humiliations that had to be accepted from the West in previous centuries and to give a worthy rebuff. This, by the way, also concerns the problem of Taiwan. Betting only on confrontation instead of the civilized competition offered by China can play a cruel joke with the United States and its allies.
In the West, it is mistakenly believed that the re-election of Xi Jinping leads to the degradation of power and management systems in the PRC. Based on the ideas of democracy, again in its Western sense, they believe that Comrade Xi, as has already happened in China and other countries, will be mired in a cult of personality and will not be able to govern the country, and the PRC will slow down and rot. In general, this is an old song about China's "braking" in new ways. In fact, a strong leader, exposed to great powers and the trust of society, will be able to take such steps that no Western democracy is capable of. In addition, there will be no cult of personality in the previous sense.
But it's not just about Xi Jinping. In the coming years, China expects an explosive effect from the huge investments that were made in previous decades in physical infrastructure and human capital. China is on the verge of a rapid flourishing of talents in science and technology, where huge investments have also been made. Since 2019, China has been conducting more research and development than the United States and Europe combined, and spending more money on it. A higher percentage of Chinese studies ranked among the top 1% of articles by citation in the world. China has long registered the largest number of patents in the world. Comparisons with the USSR of the 60s-70s are appropriate here, when investments in economic recovery, the creation of a modern industry affected, as a result, a breakthrough into space, an atomic project and rapid economic development took place.
But these are not the last trump cards of the PRC in the confrontation that the Americans impose on the country.
In general, the US trade restrictions on China are also late. On January 1, 2022, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade agreement, began operating. It includes ASEAN (the first Chinese trading partner – Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines), as well as 5 states with which ASEAN has already signed free trade agreements (Australia, China, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Japan). that it is not the US, but China that will soon determine the rules, open or close markets.
And there is also the Chinese formula of "two circulations", which is mysterious for foreigners – a combination of domestic and foreign markets with an emphasis on the first. It led to the rapid growth of China's retail market, which increased from $2.3 trillion (much less than $3.9 trillion in America) in 2010 to $6 trillion in 2020 (exceeding $5.6 trillion in the United States).
China has become a self-sufficient country, where sellers, investors, specialists, and capitals strive. So efforts to contain China will have the opposite effect. Perhaps Chancellor Scholz, going to Beijing, realized this. It is possible that he wants to try to adhere to the policy of "equal distance" from Washington and Beijing. And although it is too early to talk about a split in the Western coalition, as well as about the formation of the Beijing-Moscow-Berlin axis, it is nevertheless obvious that the rivalry between the United States and China is reaching a new level, and Washington's positions here are not as firm as it seems to him.