First published in German on May 19th, 2019
(Important supplement – May 26, 2019 – concerning the US’ decision against Huawei: see annex below)
In the election campaign for the seats in the European Parliament, now almost every political party in Germany is a fan of Europe. They display dedication to the overarching entity; even organizations that previously had opposed the European integration or at least the Euro, its up to now supreme clamp, are now preferring to refrain from that. Only typical fringe groups like the DKP (“German Communist Party”) or the neonazis continue to stir in the old way. In other important European countries as France, e.g., the development seems to be similar, since the “Front National” was unsuccessful with attempts to demonize the European integration and split subsequently.
Admittedly, the quality of the pro-Europe election propaganda by organizations as the CDU, the SPD, the Greens etc. is so tame that it almost could even scare off people. That, however, is not my subject here. There is a much more interesting and principled question which could roughly be the following: is Europe on its way to more integration a viable political construct at all? In the harsh international struggles – think of the rivalry between the US and China, but also of the enormous problems of the backward parts of the world, Africa for example, or the regions characterized by Islamic traditions – , are there chances for Europe to survive at all, or even to consolidate itself? Would it be able to provide positive impulses to the outer world, in the global processes?
Imperialism, neocolonialism and the present global constellation
Europe, too, is imperialism, undoubtedly. In the past, it was the origin of colonialism and imperialism, namely by Great Britain and France, with Germany as a not very successful laggard.
Today, Europe is still imperialism, in the basic meaning that developed and capital-rich capitalist countries strive to dominate weaker countries and societies round the globe and force unequal relations upon them. Incredible profits are still floating toward them from the crass inequalities in wages, from the crass exploitation of nature and mineral resources in the inferior countries by the dominant ones. Without this worldwide exploitation, the social systems of the developed countries would long have gone bankrupt or would have been transformed by revolutions. On the other side of this ostensible stability, the impotence of the weaker parts of the world appears to be an immutable fate.
Even so, certain important nations of the so-called Third World do not fit into that basic formula any longer, or they are about to unwind from it. The largest and most resounding example is China with its astonishing career from a half-colony of the West and Japan to the aspirant for global hegemony; but also a country as India that soon will be the most populous one in the world, even ahead of the ageing China; or Brasil – such countries are less subdued today as compared to the past.
Which, now, are the distinctive features of Europe’s imperialism of today when compared to China’s or the US’ imperialism? And one more question: how does the global imperialist competition between the US, China and Europe differ from the historical imperialistic competition between Great Britain, France, Germany, the US and Japan as described by, among others, Lenin a century ago?
Lenin analyzed the imperialism of his time as a stage in the development of capitalism (in his eyes: the last one) which acts as colonialism, distributes the world between the developed capitalist powers and becomes entangled in war-engendering conflicts caused by global imperialist rivalries.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the colonialism typical of the age of the First World War has had its time, but the exploitation of the world by the strongest capitalist nations has reached dimensions in contrast to which the old colonialist exploitation looks almost modest. Since long, the term neocolonialism is in use for that. War, in many cases led by proxies, has become a lasting condition in many poor regions of the globe, and large direct clashes between imperialist powers as 1914-18 and 1939-1945 seem possible again, namely between the US and China or between corresponding blocs.
The old colonial powers, above all Great Britain and France, Japan in Eastern Asia, have since long lost their colonies except for small relics, have adapted to the neocolonial pattern and have become secondary actors of the neocolonial capitalist system that is being euphemistically called globalization today.
Chief driver and chief profiteer of neocolonialism is the US so far. The US, too, had behaved almost in a colonial way in the beginning of the 20th century and had taken off Cuba and the Philippines from Spain. In the further course, the US perfected the more modern neocolonial ways. It drove weak nations into dependence by formally supporting their independence (even by supporting certain decolonizations against the then colonialists) while functionalizing the elites or even directly instituting regimes by military coups. In the US’ own propaganda, the neocolonial profit was to be painted as if the US had gained dominance over the populations and over possible competitors, like the former Soviet Union, by means of better competitive abilities and by insightful furthering of allegedly modern structures in the dependent countries.
In short, by globalization the capitalist ideologists of today denominate a system of maximum global freedom and global mobility for the capitalism of the powerful countries, a system that generates maximum profits by poverty wages and robbery of resources in large parts of the world. Neocolonialism takes varying shapes and adapts continuously. There are indications, though, that in the course of the sharpening rivalry between China and the US the global freedoms of capitalism are being restricted,
Africa as an example. Colonialism, neocolonialism and China in Africa.
In Africa, there is for example French neocolonialism that in the West and partly in Central Africa still holds positions; there is neocolonialism by the US which proceeds aggressively against France in certain places, see the case of Ruanda e.g.; which in South Africa, the only partly industrialized country of Black Africa, profits from dominating large companies, takes part in the pillage of the Democratic Republic of Congo by steering local warlords…The former Soviet Union, too, had been very active as a neocolonial power in Africa for some time, see the case of Ethiopia. Germany, when making neocolonial profits in Africa, has been mainly under the umbrella of the USA, but nowadays is aligning itself more closely also to France.
Today’s imperialist competition in Africa starts to show new features.
China is opening up Africa for itself as a new market and a new supplier. In contrast to the old colonialists and neocolonialists, the US, France, Great Britain, the former Soviet Union etc., China does – so far – not make its way by military domination. It invests lots of money in Africa, it sends millions of Chinese citizens for the creation of infrastructure, agronomy and certain industries. Apparently, many African governments are perceiving China’s advent as something new, different, more suitable to their own interests even if the self-interestedness of the Chinese becomes clear. It is possible to ask if the manifold Chinese activities in Africa are setting into motion remarkably stronger economic developments, at least partially, than the respective states were capable of by their own energies and from which they were also blocked actively by the neocolonial disregard and underdevelopment which the West had been imposing on the continent.
Furthermore, by the Chinese intrusion into Africa the attitudes of the being neocolonialists have to change; at least, there are some new tendencies. The subordination of the African regimes becomes less automatic and can no longer as simply as in the past be guaranteed by some military bases, rapid deployment forces and buyable militia commanders. The powers need to enter the economic and cultural competition with China, they must be willing to offer much more capital (even high-quality capital?) to stay in the business or to come into it. The African regimes – or are there some leading elites in some countries meanwhile that deserve better denominations? – are in the condition to play the imperialist competitors off against each other. In general, they might choose what promises the maximum flows into their own pockets, but on the other hand the economic pick-up that is underway in some countries also awakens parts of the population, makes them more socially demanding, more educated and capable.
A neocolonialist competition in and for Africa is developing that, in my imagination, has not exclusively negative features like the general stagnation and corruption of the past.
These remarks cannot be more than an attempt at formulating certain tendencies which with some probability are emerging of present global developments. If such tendencies will be able to become reality in practice, and how strong, depends from innumerable real conditions in the continent’s very different regions and countries, and also from the actual development of the global imperialist rivalry.
China’s „New Silk Road“-projects and Europe‘s role. “Eurasia” and the US
This view to Africa might induce to put similar questions for other regions on the globe that have been stagnating since long as well. Thus we turn to China’s projects in Central Asia and bordering regions, projects that meanwhile have gained tremendous publicity under the labels “New Silk Road” resp. OBOR
So far, the Western capitalist-imperialistic complex showed little interest in the economic development of Central Asian and also certain South-East-Asian regions, of the giant space between Turkey in the West and China in the East, including Pakistan or India as a whole. Not much was and is being invested, and all the more stands out negatively the stubborn and extremely costly quest, especially from the side of the US, to conquer strategically decisive military positions in this realm, against Russia and China. The barbaric destructions by the US during the past decades – two wars against Irak, the war in Afghanistan being the most obvious and crass examples -, have contributed a lot to the weakening of the economic vitality, the initiative by governments and societies in this region. Hardly surprising, poverty, fatalism, Islamism, social disintegration etc. have become even more strong than they had been traditionally – thanks, US!
Now China steps in with large offers for the economic development, titled “New Silk Road” or OBOR, and starts investing in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to Syria and Turkey, but also on the South-East Asian mainland (formerly called Indochina). It is constructing mines, roads, railways, power plants etc. and is offering much more. In this way China hopes to create the infrastructures for opening up these regions for its capitalism.
The creation of a stable and profitable “Eurasian” bridge, an economic and political link between China and Europe surely is one of the most important goals at that.
Such concepts challenge the US’ whole global hegemonial concept and announce its possible end. By far the largest economic space would emerge, largely keeping the US off limits, in any case revoking its military hegemony, the pursuit of which cost the region so much war and retro-development during the past decades.
To the Europeans, the Chinese concept offers enormous chances for participation and co-profiteering. Prospects for participations in projects of economic development in historically unheard-of dimensions are luring. The Europeans are not likely to miss out on them. For me, there is no doubt that China’s quest for hegemony does not cover the Asiatic intermediate zone alone, but in the long run also Europe itself which should then function as the Western outpost of a China-dominated Eurasia and finally would have to subordinate. Till then, however, it would be a long journey – if the European side would be willing to start it at all.
Very different basic structures would have to be combined. In the traditional Chinese cultural self-representation China is the center of the world. The world is legitimately governed from this center – the closer neighbors more strictly, the distant ones more loosely.
On the other side, in Europe, comparable „eurocentric“ concepts cannot, after the historic failure of European colonialism, recover ground. Whereas China on its way to more European cooperation and finally subordination must work to undercut or to directly split up the European unity, Europe can hardly even think about corresponding strategies vs. China. China, in any case, is not a federation of states onerously patching things together, the unity of which is constantly under question, but perhaps the most tightly consolidated, historically for the longest periods confirmed and almost the most unified nation at all (except for border regions as Tibet and Xinjiang which, however, are objects to a continuous sinification). China is a new fighter for world hegemony, Europe is no longer one. China will not achieve it as the Chinese system is not sufficiently attractive to the world and will provoke too much resistance. Therefore, results of the imminent worldwide struggles can as little be predicted as their repercussions – certainly deep ones – upon the Chinese society itself.
It is above all the US-China rivalry that puts its stamp on the present tensions in global affairs. Europe, a by far less powerful, relatively fragile entity, must strive to hold its own against both sides and to achieve a certain amount of autonomy in political manoeuvring in world affairs. It cannot but to seize the opportunities offered by China in economic developments, but on the other hand it has to maintain certain relations with the US, the US so far still being the most important military counterweight against China’s hegemonical aspirations.
Russia is a heavy and very unreliable component in the different “Eurasian” concepts. It is the world’s largest country in terms of expanse, it is still highly armed and probably still capable of countering military blackmailing by the US, but its population is thin, especially in huge Siberia bordering China, and its industrial base is relatively very weak. Russia would not be able to hold her ground on her own in large international military conflicts but would need to stay neutral or join one of the sides. Therefore, it is constantly being wooed as an ally by China vs. the US as well as by the US vs. China, the latter possibility presently represented by Trump. But there are also directions in the US which plead an alliance with China against Russia (and Europe).
Correspondingly, different trends are probably existing in China. For China’s “Eurasian” strategy, Russia cannot be forgone – if Russia would basically work against it, the project would be crippled. In Russia, though, the danger is being felt that too much cooperation with China, which is disproportionally stronger, could turn the country into a vassal state. Russia, which is by geography partly and by culture largely an European country, will constantly have to secure not to fall out completely with Europe in order to rely on counterweights to China. Opportunities are therefore offering themselves for the Europeans. But there is also the possibility of Russia going it together with the US against Europe and/or China. So it is impossible to predict how the constellations on the Eurasian continent will develop and under which constellations the next wars will be begun.
Just an ironic footnote: there is also an original homemade Russian “Eurasianism”, that cultivates a perceived cultural-spiritual superiority and hence a putative superiority in political power – against the ‘decadent’ Western Europe as well as against the ‘yellow peril’ in the East. Grotesquely, it claims Russian leadership for the whole double continent.
In order to fix some points from the above consideration it could be possible to say: Europe’s capitalism-imperialism of today is secondary in terms of economic and military power. Additionally, it is constantly threatened by the bigger powers, the US and China, to be robbed of its relative autonomy and possibly to be pulverized between them. So it is forced to proceed more cautiously, less belligerent and more open to the interests of others on the global level.
Cultural history: some aspects of Europe’s vitality
After these spotlights on today’s global capitalist, neocolonial and imperialistic rivalry with such focal points as China’s ascent, e.g., I should like to gain some more points of reference for the question of Europe’ survivability, by going a much longer way back into basic questions of cultural history than only into the last centuries of colonialism.
There are enormous differences between the rivaling entities USA, Europe and China with regard to their social systems, to general cultural principles. Differences of that kind have developed in the course of centuries; in the case of China even of millennia. Which effects do these differences have – provided they can be categorized roughly at all – upon the future perspectives of the respective societies, upon the character of their controversies?
At first some remarks about China.
The Chinese high culture seems to be graspable at least since the 2nd millennium BCE. In contrast to our knowledge about the high cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia, which have left behind impressive relics already from the time before 3000 BCE and in some aspects are forerunners of the European developments, there seems to be relatively scarce evidence from China for the 4th, 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE. The development during the 1st millennium, though, is apparently huge, dynamic and full of important cultural achievements. There is a lot of written sources from this period, too. It culminates in 221 BCE in the first political unification of the larger part of what is China today, under the First Emperor.
Centuries of vigorous struggles about social systems and ideologies had preceded. Namely those between Confucianism and Legalism are standing out, two directions of thought which were to inform China’s ways of understanding the state and the society up to today. Besides them, China always had space also for different ways of thinking and living, for Daoism e.g.. later on also for Buddhism and since the 19th century also for Christianity in some places, for European liberalism and Marxism etc.
Confucianism emerged from archaic clan structures and up to today still stresses socialization via principles of kinship. Confucius (Kung-dsi in Chinese) struggled during his lifetime to mobilize against the dissolution of the predominant loyalities towards the ancestors. The diverse time-honored clan aristocracies tended to glorify these duties in mythical ways and strove to secure maximum obedience of their subjects via such principles as ‘infantile piety towards the ancestors’; at the same time such principles guaranteed the division of the country among several more and more decadent clan aristocracies and their arbitrariness, e.g. the “Western Zhou”, the main point of reference for master Kung. The Legalists, though, were better in meeting the necessities of creating effective governmental structures for large population numbers and large regions, above all by establishing legal responsibilities of producers and soldiers for the system as a whole, irrespective of their individual genealogies. This overarching system was to be represented by an emperor whose loyalty belonged ‘to the heaven’ and who employed a large bureaucratic system to secure his subjects’ loyalty.
In the course of the following centuries Confucian and legalistic principles seem to have been synthesized variously: China became a strictly centralized system, administered by an enormous hierarchy of officials under an emperor; the clans, though, continuing to provide essential elements of socialization and some aspects of social security for the clan’s members. The agrarian population, thus, was subject to demands of the clan system on the one hand and performed Confucian rituals, e.g. worship of ancestors; on the other hand it had to obey also a state of taxes and officials, with the landed aristocracy, the gentry, intertwined with the imperial bureaucracy, functioning as the local level of power and exploitation.
The whole system had become extremely stagnating especially under the last dynasty, the Manchus (governing from the middle of the 17th century till 1911), and was unable to put up effective resistance against the onslaught of the imperialist European powers, at first the British since the opium wars (1839 ff.). It was only when in the middle of the 20th century the struggles led by the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong against Japanese and indirectly against US imperialism and against the rule of the landlords were successful, that the energies of the Chinese nation could be set free again.
Admittedly, Mao Zedong failed in his last and most radical fight for the transformation of China, the Cultural Revolution. It was an attempt to free China from Confucianism as well as from the imperial bureaucratic state apparatus which, as it had turned out, was able to continue its modes of government via the Communist Party itself (“the bourgeoisie sits in the middle of the party”, as one famous revolutionary slogan by Mao Zedong put it – perhaps not fully grasping the class character of this bureaucracy, but going very much into the right direction). Mao favored, for example, the formation of agrarian cooperatives on more voluntary and more modern but less capitalistic principles, as transitional forms towards socialism. Anyway: without the fundaments that had been created by the countless achievements of the socialist period in China’s history, the explosive and in a way grand development of the modern capitalist society since Mao’s successor Deng Xiao-Ping could not have been possible.
In today’s China, an extremely reckless, antisocial capitalism is raging to which the rest of the world seems a proper space for expansion. Central political control resides with a one-party state that has thoroughly discarded the socialist principles of its ascent. In a way similar to the old imperial system, it demands Confucian submission and combines it with centralized control by immense police apparatuses and with imperial ambitions to the outside world.
Stability, thus, will not just prove to be the most prominent feature of today’s capitalist China. Capitalism is by its very nature prone to crises, and this is even more true for the wild capitalism of China today. The imminent inner crises will shake not only China itself but the world. Large parts of the Chinese population have been proletarized in a capitalist sense; the number of the so-called migrant workers alone, who are deprived of many social rights and are doing the most jobs for Apple, Huawei and the erection of the desolate buildings of Chinas countless new multi-million cities, has reached ca. 300 million. Thus the formation of future genuinely proletarian movements cannot be excluded at all, but not less on the other hand certain strategies by the government to deflect domestic contradictions into imperialist expansion, as it is without doubt inherent in concepts like OBOR. Such strategies could combine traditional Chinese ideas of centralizing the world under Chinese rule with the vivid wishes of large parts of the population to take revenge for the former colonial humiliation or at least to reimburse themselves. The expansive dynamism of the present Chinese system can hardly be overstated.
Now some considerations about the special features of Europe as a cultural phenomenon that has developed in the course of several millennia. In many aspects it looks different from China and also from the US, even as Yankee-capitalism emerged from a European colonization of North America and thus has to be understood also as a partial phenomenon of European culture. The partial phenomenon, however, has been on ways of its own since long; by no later than the middle of the 20th century it undertook on its part to rule old Europe or at least to functionalize and transform it – and today it is contrasting more than ever in many aspects. It is time to dissociate ourselves in this cardinal direction, too.
Europe’s most prominent distinguishing mark, in my opinion, and nowadays again the possible source of strength and further development, is its unique diversity, the depth of its historical experiences and the supreme position that its civilization has achieved globally since several centuries, admittedly also by brutal methods of colonialism and imperialism, but not exclusively so.
One big difference, e.g., from China: since the end of the Roman empire during the migration period, roughly since 450 CE, Europe has never been politically centralized again. It always has been home to very differing ethnicities, nations, governmental systems, languages and religions, which lived side by side, influenced each other and very often fought each other bitterly (until today’s global conditions coerce the European nations to build closer coalitions. But these will hardly be very centralistic ones and have to be found by different methods).
In the inner life of this space, which in spite of its huge diversities has all the time been interconnected and has been experiencing itself as an interconnected one, very contradicting forces have developed within the various nations and states at least since a thousand years, and have fought countless struggles against each other. During the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era the social tensions peaked mostly in peasant uprisings against the large feudal landowners and in the emancipation of cities (early bourgeois city republics) against the feudal aristocracy; by the French Revolution the bourgeoisie freed itself from the aristocratic yoke; later on, the industrial bourgeoisie and the working class constituted themselves as the most important pair of opposites in society and fought innumerable conflicts, the Paris Commune of 1871, the German workers movement of 1918 ff., the Russian October Revolution of 1917 ff. and the barbaric counterrevolution by the German Nazis being the best known climaxes.
I am keeping these remarks deliberately short but nonetheless I consider these struggles of utmost weight as they are still strongly informing our present social and political conditions, quasi from a large historical distance, and our social and political mentalities as well, even if most of our contemporaries have almost no knowledge about them.
The US, because of its much shorter history, is not equipped with a depth of social experience in any way comparable to the European one.
The US, emerging and developing without the European aristocracy, did not need revolutions like the French one, but it neither cradled such big and challenging proletarian movements as did the “old continent”. The US’ bourgeoisie was at any time able to deflect the revolutionary energies of the population into the expansion towards the Pacific and later into the imperialist expansion, thus avoiding to be principally challenged ever. The callous perfidy towards the North American native population as well as the slavery as the bases of the development of the US’ bourgeoisie, and the connected racist basic attitudes are still defining some of the less pleasant sides of US mentality up to today.
Europe differs from the US also by certain traditions and laws that have been and still are constraining domination by an autotelic capitalism, by the greed for monetarily defined individual wealth as the central social axiom.
From China, Europe differs by basic patterns of society and thinking, among others. Without doubt, Europe could learn a lot from China’s culture, perhaps, e.g., with regard to harmonious relations between the human organisms and other parts of nature, with regard to the mental openness for contradictory relations within matter and in the thinking about matter, with regard to elementary dialectics.
But for China, there is still largely ahead the appreciation of the individual, of the principles of personal individuality and freedom, and the corresponding ways of social thinking.
Time and again, observers are mentioning, too, that traditional Chinese thinking does not know transcendence. In modern terms, the European tradition of transcendentality means that the individual as well as the society are all along understanding the conditions given at any time as something to be improved, as something that should be developed towards higher levels of human freedom.
This attitude, probably one of the basic drives of the European mentality, goes back to Christianity, the religion that has very deeply informed Europe.
An essential feature of Christianity consists in the demand that the this-worldly conditions be constantly illuminated by the – better – otherworldly ones, that they assimilate to the latter, but still staying here and now, as material conditions of the life of men and nature. This impetus existed side to side with quite different, but as well Christian impulses, like world withdrawal, like the self-tormenting rejection of one’s own material individual existence. Nevertheless, this impulse could never be completely extinguished and managed to transform itself into more modern, less or not at all religious world outlooks. As an important root it continues to exist in social thinking and corresponding social institutions, and also in political-revolutionary strands of thinking that have been playing an enormous role in Europe at least since the peasant wars of the beginning Modern Ages. Asiatic thinking, by contrast, traditionally likes to stress forms of de-individualization and of conforming to allegedly invariable patterns of nature and society.
Upon fundaments of that kind, Europe has developed science and arts in very many directions, it has evolved immense creative and emancipative, admittedly also violent expansive energies, and thus it became the main powerhouse of global development during the last centuries. There are opportunities to unfold the necessary criticism of the crimes of colonialism, racism and of the vile neo-colonial exploitation of other peoples. If this criticism can develop in breadth and depth, and if it can be accomplished to translate it into more partner-like relations with the other parts of the world, the fundaments of European civilization may be able to prove themselves as viable in the future, as capable of further development. By the way, quite a few of its basic features are anyway being adopted by mainstreams in the rest of the world – not always, though, with deep understanding and success.
What, now, can be objected against expecting from today’s Europe ongoing inner strength and positive contributions to world development under the condition that it makes progress in curbing international exploitation? Is something like that possible at all? That should be intensely asked. Yes, if the European people are willing to civilize the own capitalism and to move nearer to the victims of the international capitalist exploitation, to be mindful of them. Europe might become the relatively most attractive society on a global scale. The criteria of primitive capitalism, e.g. measures of output etc., are not fit as the primary tools of thorough social thinking; the pressure to follow them solely, to squeeze all the social processes into numbers and calculations is itself the expression and the method of a barbaric capitalistic falling-back, as it is becoming apparent most strongly with the two main competitors, the US and China, presently.
Europe cannot be the reformer of the world. More than enough, it will have to cope with the inner confrontations, with fighting the worst decadent trends, the unbearable social conditions in many instances. Europe today is characterized by a marauding finance-capitalistic superstructure that is not by principle different from the US’ one, with which it is closely knotted together, additionally. Especially the German political system pursues an adventurous eco-strategy, a kind of predatory exploitation also domestically (you can perhaps distinguish it if you look at the decades-long downwards turn in the educational systems, e.g.), by which it hopes to escape the fundamental problems of valorization in a highly developed industrial capitalism and to generate even higher rates of profit (my views about these problems see here and here and here). Closely associated is an extraordinary pharisaic factitiousness of the political and media theatre. Criminality, corruption everywhere, growing of the mob …and especially with the former chief colonialists, Great Britain and France, eruptions of imperialistic colonial and war ambitions have to be critically mentioned here anyway.
Europe won’t be able to achieve more than incremental humanizations of its own international exploitative relations – if it is ready at all to acknowledge and to change them sufficiently. But being itself increasingly the object of bigger imperialistic powers which themselves are the most remote ones from emancipative global concepts, it could set free some energies that invigorate itself and get it the right friends in the world.
Supplement, May26th 19:
Only a few days after this essay went first online (in German), new reports made it clear that the US is dissociating itself now from the formerly discussed option to conclude large trade “deals” that would mean a balancing of interests.
The new measures against the companies in the US and elsewhere which so far have been selling the technologically most advanced chips and software to Huawei, both of which China is not – yet – in the position to produce itself, are going to change the global economic and political structure deeply – if the US keeps them up.
This is about not only the narrower realm which is defined by the Huawei question, but more generally about all fields that are relevant for China’s objective to become the world superpower in almost all high-tech industries, exploiting the manifold economic cooperations with Western companies for that goal.
The tough political core in the US, as it was reported, is not the president but groups signified by names as Lightizer, Navarro, Rubio; they are said to have worked into that direction already before Trump’s time.
In reports from China there is talk now that with the US‘ latest steps the decision has been arrived at to break up the hitherto close interleaving of the economies in the West and in China. “Decoupling” is already fully underway, as Mr. Wuttke from Germany, the former president of the European chamber of commerce in China, was quoted saying.
The challenge the US now seems to finally have brought itself to declare shall bring about considerable mess not only in China and the US themselves. The entire global position of the Europeans with Germany as the economic heavyweight, that is essentially networked with both the US and China, is put into question. What is to become of the German car industry with its enormous dependence from productions as well as markets in both China and the US? What of the 5G plans for which most Europeans were not willing to give Huawei a miss? How do the perspectives for further large cooperation between Europe and China under the labels “New Silk Road” and OBOR look now that the US have decided to attack China’s geopolitical ascent not only by military containment but also by harsh economic means?
The decision by the US in the so-called trade war was still pending when I finished my essay; many observers were still of the opinion that a big deal, after months of big noise from the US, was probable. The new twist gives considerable new and coarse input to the questions concerning Europe’s position in the world.
 „OBOR“ is abbreviated for „One Belt One Road“, whereby the Chinese leadership denominates connections to the West, Europe and Africa, by land as well as by sea
 The Chinese „Eurasia“ concept: a twin continent with China as the main element, the dominant power, and Europe becoming increasingly dependent, tightly connected in terms of economy and security politics with China via the intermediate zones. The US’ traditional conception of the twin continent relies on the continuous inability of continental Europe, especially Germany, and Russia (in the future also China) to accomplish essentially stable alliances, so that the elements of the twin continent can be played off against each other anytime. Thus, no joint adversary for the US can develop, and the US will always be able to intervene militarily from its own bases in “Eurasia” and by its superior seaborne forces.
 I am using these traditional periodizations only for some initial convenient orientations, not because of their scientific power that has meanwhile been put into doubt.
 This might in part explain the bewildering shallowness of ideas of leading US politicians, but also the ignorance of large parts of the population, which seems to be even cruder than in Europe.
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