X Close

We will have to take a side in Cold War II A world in which Beijing achieves technological dominance would be terrifying

China: not short of soldiers. Credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images

China: not short of soldiers. Credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images


June 24, 2020   8 mins

“It is important to comprehensively strengthen the training of troops and prepare for war”. With these very words,  China’s Dictator-President Xi Jinping announced his intentions to the world in a speech last month. China is preparing for conflict, the question only remains what form it will take.

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi has already said that the US and China now stand at the “brink of a new Cold War”. But this time America faces a far stronger enemy, and the prize at hand is even greater.

The old Cold War was essentially an intercontinental nuclear arms race between the USSR and the USA, a balance of terror that came to be known by the acronym MAD — Mutually Assured Destruction. After the near-catastrophe of the Cuban missile crisis, this hugely expensive military competition led to a stalemate that allowed for diplomacy to resurface, and eventually for Gorbachev’s Perestroika reforms.

The US won the first Cold War, largely due to its rival’s economic ineptitude, and afterwards political scholar Francis Fukuyama was so jubilant that he somewhat prematurely declared the End of History. Not Quite.

But if the old Cold War was a nuclear arms race, then Cold War II is a race for quantum supremacy. Control over Big Data determines which of the world’s superpowers emerges triumphant, because to reliably master quantum supremacy is to master the world.

Last October, US technology giant Google announced that it had built a quantum computer that performed calculations in 200 seconds that would have taken a conventional supercomputer 10,000 years to perform. What this could mean for human civilisation is unprecedented. A stable quantum computer with that much computing power would transform complex financial risk management into child’s play, take years off pharmaceutical research and development, leave vast amounts of personal data open to manipulation, and trigger a revolution in artificial intelligence and machine learning, which in turn would give modern militaries unmatched advantage in war.

Most crucially, a powerful quantum computer able to shave 10,000 years off its calculations would render previously unbreakable internet encryption useless, and replace it with unbreakable quantum encryption. Quantum calculations would be able to crack any current encryption code in existence. It follows, therefore, that whichever nation masters quantum supremacy first could instantly hack the entire internet, from the highly personal information of world leaders to every nation’s state bank encryption.

Whereas classical computers store and transmit information in bits — binary states of 0 or 1 — a quantum bit (or a “qubit“) can occupy both 1 and 0 at the same time, enabling exponentially greater simultaneous calculations. The leap forward this represents is akin to the difference between an abacus and modern computers. To put this into context, a quantum computer with ‘only’ 500 qubits would be able to encode more bits of information than there are atoms in the observable universe. Let there be no doubt that, if reliably achieved, quantum supremacy changes the world.

This is why the US and China are in a race to determine who will first achieve quantum supremacy. And just as in the old Cold War, the economy will be a decisive factor. In August last year, the US Department of the Army issued a request for information on quantum technologies for ‘Threat Military Applications’, stating that “A global race has ensued to exploit and operationalise quantum technologies for the use of military effects.”

In December 2018, President Trump authorised the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQI), providing for $1.2b (ÂŁ1b) to be invested in quantum technology over five years. Trump then signed an Executive Order to establish a National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee composed of 22 experts from industry, research and federal agencies.

But China also has an awesome quantum programme to match its rival. President Xi  has funded a multi-billion dollar quantum computing initiative  aiming to achieve significant breakthroughs by 2030. In November 2018, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), the country’s largest defence electronics company, unveiled a prototype quantum radar that it claims can detect stealth aircraft in flight.

Chinese researchers also claim to have built a satellite that can send quantum-entangled encrypted messages between distant locations. Meanwhile, a team of researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland, is working on a similar approach called quantum teleportation.

Though China apparently suffers from a skills shortage hampering her companies’ attempts to supersede their U.S. competitors, a January 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment report to the Senate  concluded that the US lead in science and technology had been significantly eroded, as China rapidly catches up.

China has the funds, and is biding its time. Meanwhile, Beijing’s key aim is to disrupt its rivals as the country rises to supremacy, increasing the risks of the ‘Thucydides trap’.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed ongoing and multiple state-backed cyber attacks on a wide range of the country’s systems. The attackers primarily used a tactic called “remote code execution vulnerability”, which involves hackers attempting to insert their own software code into a vulnerable system like a server, in order to steal information. Cyber-security experts have said that some of the same computer code and tactics used in these cyber-attacks were also used in a February 2019 hack into Parliament House, also blamed on China.

Beijing has also imposed tariffs on Australian barley, stopped buying Australian beef and urged Chinese tourists and students to avoid the country, after Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus.

Sydney’s cyber-attack was deemed serious enough for the Australian PM to confirm that he “spoke to Boris Johnson last night”. But Britain is also beset by problems with potential Chinese spytech, largely of our own making. The US security services have long warned us  that Chinese 5G equipment from Huawei poses a spying threat. The Chinese state is suspected of inserting “hidden backdoors” into Huawei’s 5G equipment to spy on data passed through mobile and data networks.

Google’s former Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, who is now chairman of the Pentagon’s Defence Innovation Board, reaffirmed this month that “There’s no question that Huawei has engaged in some practices that are not acceptable in national security”.

He compared Huawei to “signals intelligence” – or spy agencies – and said that information “from Huawei routers has ultimately ended up in hands that would appear to be the state”. However it happened, he said, “we’re sure it happened”.

To protect China’s Huawei deal from being rescinded, Beijing has unleashed a series of economic threats against Britain. The state-backed Global Times warned that the British economy faces “substantial damage” if Boris Johnson’s government did not change course on Huawei as well on the political situation in Hong Kong.

Beijing, it said, would “strike back
 where the UK steps out of line”. Citing British operations in China, in particular the HSBC bank, as well as Chinese investment at a nuclear plant in Somerset, the editorial said Britain “does not have many cards to play” and “further moves to cut co-operation could lead to the UK shooting itself in its own foot”. In response, in a review called Project Defend, Downing Street is now investigating how to reduce reliance on China for critical products.

In response to China’s threats to Britain, the US State Department issued what only a few years ago would have been considered a shockingly bullish reply.

“The United States stands with our allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party’s coercive bullying tactics,” it stated: “Shenzhen-based Huawei is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state. Beijing’s aggressive behavior shows why countries should avoid economic overreliance on China and should guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence. Australia, Denmark, and other free nations have recently faced pressure from CCP interests to bow to China’s political wishes. The United States stands ready to assist our friends in the U.K. with any needs they have.”

China’s cyber warfare is also evident on Twitter, the social media company disclosing that it had discovered hundreds of thousands of accounts linked to state disinformation operations. The People’s Republic was exposed as running the largest operation, followed by Russia and Turkey, using manipulation to spread pro-Beijing propaganda and pushing deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.

Similar to Iran, China has also been engaging in ‘hostage diplomacy’. Chinese courts sentenced Australian Cam Gillespie to death for drug smuggling, seven years after his arrest, and also increasing the sentence of a convicted Canadian drug smuggler from life imprisonment to death, shortly after Huawei Director Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada. Two Canadians, a former diplomat and a businessman, were also arrested in China on allegations of espionage after Meng’s arrest.

India, another US ally, has been experiencing increased tensions along its 2,500 mile disputed Himalayan border with China. In one of the worst incidents for years, up to 20 Indian soldiers were killed last week in skirmishes with Chinese counterparts.

The conflict between these two rival nuclear powers largely centres on the effects of climate change on the glaciers. Roughly 47% of the water used by India comes from the river Ganges, fed by the Kosi river rising in Chinese-controlled Tibet. As a result, both countries are building dams in order to better control the most vital of resources.

To make matters more complicated, and volatile, this border dispute also involves a third nuclear power in the form of Pakistan.

President Trump has offered American mediation over the border dispute, but the move was largely interpreted as being hostile to China. Meanwhile US Secretary of State Pompeo recently confronted China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi with a list of China’s actions around the globe. “I ticked through a few of them,” he said: “Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, what they’re doing in India, what they’ve done in the economic zones along the Philippines and Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam, the coercion on Australia.”

Yet the US does not have the strength to fight the new cold war alone, and it will require a new NATO-style containment and security policy for Asia, whereas until recently, most European nations had not been alert to the threat posed by an increasingly assertive China.

This has led to a particularly insidious and weak policy response, barely disguised as typical and unoriginal European anti-Americanism, but dressed up as realpolitik. “Analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century,” the European Union’s Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles stated: “This is now happening in front of our eyes
 the pressure to choose sides is growing. As the EU, we should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalised by one or the other.”

French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian declared in the French Senate that “regarding China, I do not think we should be locked into a logic of confrontation bipolar world. To not start a second Cold War we must affirm Europe’s autonomy”.

Indeed, Macron’s chief diplomatic advisor Emmanuelle Bonne is reported to have confirmed to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about “France’s readiness to step up strategic communication with China” assuring China that “France respects China’s sovereignty, appreciates the sensitivity of Hong Kong-related issues, and has no intention of interfering in Hong Kong affairs.”

Germany’s powerful business lobbies are also drawn towards China, while Italy considers herself a “most trusted ally” to the country. Chinese investment in infrastructural projects like the high-speed rail link from Greece to Budapest, also presents economic and political vulnerabilities due to China’s Belt and Road initiative.

But those in Europe who argue that the continent’s interests lie in “remaining neutral” while this US-China Cold War II unfolds, are deluding themselves and everyone else. They seem not to have yet realised, blissfully wish to ignore, or indeed wilfully mislead others about the fact that ‘deciding’ which side to take is a choice we simply no longer have.

Through its cyber espionage, aggressive domination of supply chains, and belligerent domestic political and foreign policies, China has made that choice for us.

Although some may wish to ignore it, or make the argument for a parochial ‘national hobbitism’, the stakes are too high to avoid choosing a side.

Attaining quantum supremacy changes everything, and whoever masters it will have instant access to, and domination of, the rest of the world for the foreseeable future. If China wins that struggle, the sort of organ harvesting, social-credit enforcing, Uighur-Muslim interning, dark tyranny that governs most of the Chinese mainland will come to dominate the rest of the world.

By this, I do not mean to imply that we should go to war with China. Of course not. But we must at the very least recognise that we are in the midst of a new Cold War, and this will help us formulate appropriate policy responses with our eyes open. Quantum supremacy changes everything. Similar to Tolkien’s One Ring, it is a power too great to be wielded by one man in Beijing alone. If this were to happen, global democracy could be in permanent retreat.

That was the harsh lesson learned by Bilbo Baggins, when he left his Shire in support of the free world. And even though the Hobbits were initially oblivious to it, the battle eventually came to them regardless. The rise of Mordor was simply too powerful and too dangerous an event to countenance, even for the little people in the Shire.


Maajid Nawaz is a columnist, LBC presenter and Founding Chairman of Quilliam.

MaajidNawaz

Join the discussion


Rejoignez des lecteurs partageant les mĂȘmes idĂ©es qui soutiennent notre journalisme en devenant abonnĂ©s payants.

Subscribe

To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

48 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

China is probably the greatest threat to liberty that the (modern) world has ever seen because they are as ruthless as they are smart. (Essentially, the Soviet Union was run by idiots). Unfortunately, most of the west, too, is run by idiots. Moreover, at heart those idiots tend to be as authoritarian as their Chinese counterparts – just look at those goons in Brussels. And, as we saw with the EU’s teleconference with China yesterday, the EU will beg and bow to China because it needs their money. Whatever, it’s not going to end well for normal, decent people.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I beg to differ, Germany was the greatest “threat to liberty the (Modern) world has ever seen” Like China, ruthless and super smart, but in the event, too smart by half, as ‘we’ would say.
However on two occasions it did take most of the known world to batter her into submission!
What is interesting is why is China being so belligerent now? Her bellicose squeals have only served to act as a ‘wake up call’ to the West, as to the clear and present danger she represents to us all. Yet military she is still far behind, particularly in the crucial area of Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN’s).
Historically she has a very poor record. She is thought to have ‘invented’ the Printing Press, the Magnetic Compass and Gunpowder, decades before the West, the three essential components to achieve world conquest, yet completely failed to use any of them effectively. The inevitable result was that European powers, led by plucky little Portugal, rapidly overran and plundered the planet on a industrial scale, to the immense benefit of ‘us’ all.
As you rightly say Europe’s reaction to contemporary China has been one abject grovelling and humiliating appeasement, led incidentally by the beastly Germans and the wretched Italians. Fortunately, the USA is made of sterner stuff, and will easily be able to crush the Chinese for at least the next five, perhaps even ten years. She will not need the assistance of her frankly, pathetic Allies, in any form whatsoever.
However the US cannot, and I am sure is not, taking the Chinese threat lightly. For the ‘smart’ Chinese it would be apposite to realise how vulnerable they are and, act accordingly. Once before an Asiatic Power thought it could rise above its station and look what happened to them.
Vae victis.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

But Germany – Nazi or otherwise – was never big enough to really take on the world and win. China is.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Perhaps not, but had Corporal Hitler not been in charge they should have conquered Russia (as they had done in 1918). Then, if they had developed the A bomb, they would have had a good chance. Additionally, Adolph’s manic anti Semitic policy deprived them of the talents of numerous Jewish physicists, which was unhelpful.
Whist I agree with much of what you have said about the vileness of China I still think the US has a crushing military advantage, particularly, as stated before in that vital asset, SSBN’s.
The problem, post war, will be how to justify the enormous US Defence Budget as there will be no credible enemy left. Time to sell any Defence Stocks I would think.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

In regards as to why China didn’t press home it’s advantage in the early 15th century was, to cut a very very long story short, because the Confucius monks, who were China’s Civil Service, thought it was a bad financial policy.
This was after funding several huge fleets (of around 240-280 vessels each time, including water boats, horse boats and a couple of boats of concubines, as well as half a dozen 300m long “Treasure Ships”) that were sent around the then known world mapping and giving stuff away.
In the end, on the return of the final fleet all the boats were burned or destroyed, and an edict was proclaimed that no-one from hereon in would sail in anything bigger than a small junk.

And that’s why 🙂

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Thanks for mentioning those ‘Treasure Fleets’, seven of them as I recall?
Their destruction was coterminous with rejecting the magnetic compass, but not the abandonment of either gunpowder or the printing press, which came later. Too late of course to prevent Ming China falling, yet again to northern barbarian thugs.
Are you sure about the 300 metre ship length? That is longer than either RMS Titanic or even HMS Hood. I thought ‘modern’ research had reduced the length to more like 100 metres?
One final point, had those seven fleets turned left when coming out of the Yangtze, sailed across the Pacific and crashed into California in say 1415 AD that would have changed things. However, as luck would have it, they turned right and got to nowhere of any real interest.
It appears therefore that historically China has made some catastrophic ‘top down’ decisions and will probably continue to do so.
Sadly as you say “to cut a very, very, long story short”, there is no time to revel in the Opium Wars and Unequal Treaties.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Might I humbly suggest that Frazer Bailey is far from being a ‘normal, decent’ person. Perhaps a tad xenophobic or even racist?
When will he realise that the world has moved on. Nobody gives a monkey’s what the British government or people think about anything. They are an irrelevant, spent force eaking out the last vestiges of the fortune they plundered from the rest of the world for over 2 centuries.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Might I humbly suggest you have a bit of a ‘chip on your shoulder’ about good old England?
Your pseudonym might suggest you hail from the Emerald Isle. Is this the source of your obvious vexation?

aggint
aggint
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Agree on Chinese malevolence, strength and risk taking behavior. Problematic stance of EU elites is corrosive to a western coalition response to PRC rapaciousness.

But we must also factor into China’s might the current quasi alliance of Russia with China. Russian nuclear and conventional strength and Putin’s propensity for for provocation magnifies China’s leverage and adds to risks.
Europe” via German complicity- is critically influenced by Russian energy dependence and coercion. The near term picture for balancing ChiRussia is thus more bleak and the necessity more urgent. .

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
3 years ago

We have buried our heads in the sand and allowed the greedy, wealthy ‘lords’ of Mordor to drag us into the shadow of death as globalisation made trillions for the few but sold our souls to China. Then to make it worse, after we had prostituted our manufacturing for a yen, we allowed China to make us dependent upon their manpower and ability to make countries dependent by mortgaging them for the infrastructure advancements that will be owned and operated by China or at least be subject to Chinese influence. This is the stuff of nightmares.

David George
David George
3 years ago

Thank you Maajid, well said. As Steve Bannon said “The best time to do something about this was twenty years ago; the second best time is now”
We have similar conflicts here in New Zealand; the Chinese influence and coercion within our political parties, news media and universities is frightening.
Here’s the story of “The Aussie Student China Wants silenced” , the most concerning thing, in many respects, is the complicity of the Aussie Uni. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
3 years ago

“If China wins that struggle, the sort of organ harvesting, social-credit enforcing, Uighur-Muslim interning, dark tyranny that governs most of the Chinese mainland will come to dominate the rest of the world.”
I find it hard to believe that Europeans are so cravenly blinkered. Clearly all the lessons learned from the second world war have all been forgotten. Worrying times. Excellent article.

Trefor Jones
Trefor Jones
3 years ago

Excellent article. Am I alone in thinking that committing economic suicide on a green agenda, is not a very bright idea. The apologists for China keep telling us that they are at the forefront of green technology, this is a facade. The Chinese are still expanding their hydrocarbon capacity as we allow green activists to destroy ours.

I went to China in 2006, and much of the over reliance was obvious then. We did nothing about it until Trump fell out with them. The current madness surrounding Covid-19 as we prepare for new green technologies is also a mirage. The Michael Moore movie, “Planet of the Humans” exposed its inadequacy, yet has been ignored.

We are in a 1930s situation, for all Trump’s weaknesses as a classical politician, he has at least recognised the real enemy.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
3 years ago

Deleted

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
3 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

I think the collective ‘we’ have made the experience of being a politician so downright horrible that we now mostly recruit to elected office those who are in it for reasons other than public service.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Yeadon

Deleted

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Ask your kids whether they would rather be alive or not exist at all.
Harden up.

Colin Brewer
Colin Brewer
3 years ago

Even in the 1950s, it was widely quipped that optimists wanted their children to learn Russian while pessimists wanted them to learn Chinese. The article is yet another illustration of John Gray’s depressing but persuasive argument that belief in a Whiggish progress of history to increasingly sunlit uplands is the liberal equivalent of religious faith in a better after-life. I don’t think I’ll spend any of my remaining years learning Chinese but aprÚs moi, le déluge. It was nice – at least for the West – while it lasted.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

Some of us were worried about this ten years ago. I remember thinking that India and China would wrestle for supremacy like Britain and France in the 18th century. All the while The Economist was babbling on about “liberalising China”, and George Osborne shilled for a tyrannical regime that had consistently bullied its neighbours. When the Economist posted an article bewilderingly asking how they’d got China wrong I wanted to scream. Did they not have any sense of history?

The West will win this, but it will take at least a century to achieve this. We need to either outspend China, or spend so wisely that China’s money mountains don’t count. We need a “grand alliance” of Asian states to counter China’s influence. Europe may be like Bavaria in the early 18th century- lost to the enemy. We should not waste too much time trying to keep them onside, but if we can, that would be good. Northern Europe and Eastern Europe are probably the prime targets for our diplomacy.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

If there is one thing I have learned it is that The Economic – and all the rest of the media – always get everything wrong. That is why I have ceased to fund it in any way whatsoever.

Mike Hughes
Mike Hughes
3 years ago

We’ve been too busy helping to destroy Middle Eastern countries to pay much attention to the bigger picture

David Bouvier
David Bouvier
3 years ago

Your otherwise interesting article is hurt by false and over-excited statements about quantum computing.

Yes, quantum computing algorithms are very good at factoring products of large prime numbers (which unfortunately happens to be basic maths of key modern crypto algorithms). But they are not magic. Quantum supremacy just means that they can do one reasonably interesting thing that is impractical to do on a conventional computer, not that they can do anything a computer can do only better.

There are other algorithms that are resistant to cracking by quantum comptuing. It is kind of just bad luck that we happe to be using one that isn’t. Work is already underway on agreeing standards for algorithms that ARE quantum resistant.

Quantum computers do some things very well but it is better really to think of them a ‘quantum processing units’ attached to conventional computers to do specialist tasks, just as we have GPUs for graphics and increasingly NPUs for neural nets.

That doesn’t realy refute your main argument, but it doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Mark Birbeck
Mark Birbeck
3 years ago

Would your strap line imply that the years of US hegemony haven’t been terrifying for millions of Iraqis, Vietnamese, Cubans and people from various African countries?

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Birbeck

Quite. As I said in another context a few weeks ago, the very best imaginable outcome of the New Cold War would be for both sides to lose.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Bloody Liberals!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

For that to happen it would be bloody and protracted conflict.
What is required is ‘Blitzkrieg’ victory, which will ensure minimal casualties on the winning side.
There are plenty of examples but you may have a penchant for Sedan? or perhaps even Konnigratz?

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Birbeck

It’s not, fundamentally, a moral problem though Mark, it’s a problem of the preservation of our liberty, sovereignty and prosperity,
We could drag up what-aboutery examples to attempt to justify almost any course of action or inaction. We have to what is right for us; “bending the knee” to China would be a huge and irredeemable error.
The small nations in Asia and the Pacific are rapidly devolving into vassal states of China via their system of “Barbarian Management”, predatory lending and overt coercion and corruption.
I was horrified with what I saw on a recent visit to Tonga; they now have, effectively, a military fort and naval base right in Nukuʻalofa. A similar process is well underway in Vanuatu.
The plan appears to be to establish strongholds and bases for continued expansion; it’s pure imperialism

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

I’ve been saying this for a while. Glad Maajid has now caught up.
It’s really very simple: do we want our grandchildren to live in a country that’s rather like the US, or rather like China? There are no other options available.
As both the Chinese and Islamic fundamentalists have noticed, the West has become flabby and decadent, seemingly unwilling to confront the challenges we face and determined to obsess about the minutiae of identity politics and other navel-gazing distractions instead.
We need to wise up or lose out – fast!

David Bouvier
David Bouvier
3 years ago

Interesting thought, but pre-WW2 the idea that we had to choose between Communism and Fascism was a quite common. That turned out to be a rather bad one, and thankfully a choice we avoided having to make.

Stephen Crossley
Stephen Crossley
3 years ago

Congratulations on an excellent article. If we in the UK are forced to take a side in the impending US/China Cold War and the presumption is that we side with the democracy, is it time to address the elephant in the room (no joke intended) namely the potential re-election of Donald J Trump?

It would seem that the only way to exert pressure on China to curtail its systematic attacks on individual democracies such as the recent bullying of Australia is via economic pressure. If western democracies are able to coordinate their response to such aggression via economic sanctions or a coordinated reduction in economic dependency on China for cheap goods, then we stand a chance of coming to a peaceful conclusion to this Cold War.

As a lifelong conservative voter I am excited at the prospect of a British conservative government with the kind of majority that could trigger real change for the better in our country. I also welcomed the disruption that Mr Trump brought to the established political status quo in The United States that brought politics there back to The People. However, he has also managed to destroy decades long alliances in fits of pique while using foreign policy to pursue his own personal vendettas such as the well documented withholding of aid to Ukraine and the reduction of US troops in Germany. The ongoing US/China trade negotiations may in themselves reduce the scope for collective trade pressure on China but the potential for concerted action is reduced to zero if the President of The United States sees no value in the traditional economic and military alliances that have helped to maintain global peace for the last 75 years.

For the sake of the wider world I hope when they go to the polls in November the American people heed the immortal words of Donna and Barbra and say…Enough is enough.

Jon Luisada
Jon Luisada
3 years ago

A far larger elephant is the Chinese access to american investment funds through the NYSE that brings about the bizarre situation where american servicemen’s pensions are invested into Chinese defence companies that are making weapons to kill them…
But american companies cant trade with them…go figuer.

Jon Luisada
Jon Luisada
3 years ago

my comment has gone into the approval black hole…if it doesnt make it I will publish on their twitter feed.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago

Quantum calculations would be able to crack any current encryption code in existence.

No, it couldn’t. Quantum computers will be enormously faster than conventional ones at certain types of calculation (many of the relating to quantum physics and chemistry). This includes number factorisation which is part of many of the public-key encryption schemes on the internet But this is a long way from saying that all encryption schemes are vulnerable (and, as the author implies, work is well-advanced on new schemes that are resistant to attack by quantum computers).

carolstaines8
carolstaines8
3 years ago

I wonder: does a computer capable of quantum calculations take into consideration a butterfly flapping it’s wings…….?

roslynross3
roslynross3
3 years ago

Given the millions killed in American wars in the past half century and more and the tyrants propped up by the Americans, past and present, why on earth would the Chinese be something to fear. There are some double standards at work it seems and plenty of bigotry toward the Chinese.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  roslynross3

Can’t you do the maths?
Yes, the US has slain its millions but China its tens of millions. My comparative analysis the US has been remarkably restrained compared to the industrial slaughter perpetrated by the Chinese, since say 1948.
Their is no equivalence here, China is off the “Richter” scale when it comes to genocide, far outstripping both Stalin and Adolph. By contrast the US is a veritable minnow in this arena.
The fact that you are unaware of this is alarming to say the least, and just illustrates how deeply Sino-Woke propaganda has eaten into the very marrow of Western Democracy.

Neil Colledge
Neil Colledge
3 years ago

Until it is proved conclusively that China is responsible for the release of the virus, it would be irresponsible and unprofessional to accuse them of this. All fingers point to a release from the Virology Facility in Wuhan and then a rapid spread, after laboratory animals were sold to “wet markets”. It should be remembered that American scientists and researchers also seemed to have visited Wuhan and that Bill Gates partly funded the research there. It also appears that China has developed a strategic relationship with Russia after soldiers from the two armies marched shoulder-to-shoulder at The May Day Parade in Moscow. Not even the most bullish, aggressive, neo-conservative think tank would advocate taking on these two nations & even contemplating going to war over some conjecture, as-yet unproved & not yet independently investigated. This would be insane!! We still have much more to come. The “fat lady” has not even come close to singing yet. There are many possible directions and even more possible outcomes from this.

Tim Lewis
Tim Lewis
3 years ago

The concluding Lord of the Rings simile is apt, but surely you mean Frodo Baggins?

alberto.menoni
alberto.menoni
3 years ago

Man up and get used to be treated the way you’ve treated the rest of the world during the last 4 centuries.

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  alberto.menoni

It’s not clear what you expect Alberto; submission and domination?
Why would anyone sane chose that option regardless of what folk long dead may or may not have done. This is not a moral issue.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Interesting….a good follow up (or precursor, really) would be John Pilgers “The Coming War with China”

…and I wonder who is pulling strings, organising finance and operations and directing the current attacks on our democracy via BLM/Antifa…?

Money talks

dr.agupta67
dr.agupta67
3 years ago

Border issues between countries get complex and complicated by respective Governments and United Nations organizations is a dyfunctional and cannot perform by letter of law.

robertbutterwick
robertbutterwick
3 years ago

Dictatorship never ends well, but it does end. I absolutely agree that the CCP is just the label on this particular totalitarian system and that it can’t be trusted. It has a huge land army, which I’m sure would give any state or alliance of states difficulties in defending themselves. The cyber threat is real and the re-programming of the Uighur – Muslims is a crime against humanity. What does China want? I have a niggling suspicion that this could have more to do with the demography of the Chinese population than anything else. It’s median age is now higher than Ireland and not that far behind the UK and a lot of other European nations. Thanks to the one child policy it’s not an imbalance they can easily correct, but it’s likely to be having a negative impact on productivity. We know China can’t be trusted, so why its economic performance should be trusted is beyond me, except that analysts can suffer from confirmation bias the same as anyone else. Sabre rattling and whipping up sentiment against foreign interference is part and parcel of any dictatorship, just look at North Korea. China hasn’t seen the need to follow this path before, so what’s the catalyst now?

stuuey
stuuey
3 years ago

But its not as simple as just making a choice….for one, the recruiting techniques are poles apart, ‘yur either with us or against us’ vs much more sophisticated economic coercion….these two approaches work (or not) on both a country level aswell as personally.
For two, all countries are already unavoidably invested in both spheres and can only practically choose to migrate rather than overtly pick a side for fear of damaging their investment.
From a personal standpoint a bipolar structure is maybe a stable one and no bad thing especially if many unaligned or not fully aligned countries remain…

Bobiq Elven
Bobiq Elven
3 years ago

Hmmm I don’t think we should take a stand. Wait untli they both debilitate one another. Chinese people are not backing up their regime and it is due to fall sooner or later.

Jon Luisada
Jon Luisada
3 years ago

ping!

Patrick Chevallereau
Patrick Chevallereau
3 years ago

Excellent article but two important points are not mentionned:
1. How much Brexit is hurting and makes more complex the equation of UK’s approach vis à vis China : much less margin for manoeuver now, especially in the scenario of a no-deal with Brussels
2. Taking a side is made more complicated for Western countries by the growing divergence between Washington and the European capitals in terms of values and strategic interests (the two glue ingrédients for the Atlantic alliance). A reelection of Donald Trump in 2020 would only exacerbate the issue.

scgstephen
scgstephen
3 years ago

Bilbo’s lesson wasn’t that war is hell, or that some things can’t be ignored. The lesson that both Bilbo and Frodo learned came in book six at the end. Running off to war on a great adventure may be exciting, but your return is forever changed and likely usurped by the evil you tried to stop. Frodo came home and even after saving the world, the violence had come to his home anyway. It took years to eradicate it and in the process, changed everyone.