Xi Jinping + / x Donald Trump and the Art of War

“Master Sun said:
There are Five Steps to War:
Measurement determines
Estimate determines
Calculation ;
Calculation determines
Comparison determines

(Chapter 4 - Forms and Provisions ” / “THE ART OF WAR” de Sun Tzu Bin Fa)

These teachings are part of the book “The Art of War”, one of the most important works – if not the most - about war tactics ever written. Its author, Sun Tzu, lived in the 5th century BC, in the Warring States period, that preceded the unification of China by the mythical Emperor Qin Shi Huan Di, in 221 a.C. Sun Tzu was a general and strategist in the service of the king of the state of Wu, one of those who then disputed the hegemony of China, at the end of the 5th century BC.

In fact, your concepts don't just apply to the battlefront: the “Art of War” is a “bedside book” for many contemporary entrepreneurs, who consult you to guide your business… Copies of it can be found at any magazine kiosk in São Paulo.

I invite friends to make a comparative analysis between the text above and what is currently happening on the planet. Transporting the teachings of the book to the present day, many of your concepts, At my point of view, can be applied to the “war” that Chinese and Americans have been fighting for the hegemony of globalized Pangea since Donald Trump (D.T.) took power in the United States, in 2016. These fronts range from the “skirmishes” that they have been practicing in the fight (oops…"Trade war"…) for the power in which they are struggling, until the recent radicalizing accusations by the Americans - and their allies - that the Chinese “villains” are responsible for the most tragic pandemic of this last century.

But, let's go back to the teachings of Sun Tzu.

As we saw above, the first of the five steps of “Art of War” is “MEASUREMENT”, that leads to “ESTIMATE”, that is, to gauging, of the opponent's real power. For this purpose, note that since he assumed the presidency, D.T. as the “flag” of his government, the abandonment of universalism that has characterized the “American century” since World War II has unfurled: “Bring America home” and “put America first” have been two “leitmotivs” of your foreign policy. In this endeavor, Americans are reviewing their participation – and financing – in international organizations, precisely they who were the first to encourage the creation of these entities at the end of World War II: OMC, OTAN, UNESCO, WHO, etc. And opponents of decisions made to safeguard the global ecosystem have been staunch. Would “Made in America” universalism be threatened? This would be such an ESTIMATE, the first diagnosis, and pass, de Sun Tzu?…

The next one is “CALCULATION", which defines the correct orientation of the direction to be taken: that is, the assessment of the effective power of the weapons that the opponent has in hand. In our case, the first, and most important of them, is international trade, especially that of high-tech products. The Chinese understand that the defining factor of this century's hegemony is technology, especially 5G, that they dominate over all other competitors (until now); the example, by the way, what was the industry 4.0 for Americans throughout the 20th century. This is precisely the scope of the project – “Made in China 2025” - which they formulated in 2013, focusing on ten cutting-edge sectors on which to focus its P policy&D to increase the domestic content of materials and products that they consider essential in order to reduce China's dependence on foreign technology and promote Chinese manufacturers in the global market.

The plan identifies ten key sectors: advanced information technology; digital and robotic control machine tools; planes; ocean and navigation equipment; rail transport equipment; automobiles using new energies; electrical power equipment; farm equipment; new materials; biopharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The Chinese believe that this plan, in addition to reducing their dependence on the West, will also leverage the growing world demand for “Made in China” products. It is not for nothing that technology “pirates”, they have become the most active "customers" of the World Intellectual Property Organization "/ WIPO: according to the organism, China has become the main depository for international patent applications in 2019, snatching the title for the first time from the United States. Evidently, patent is any invention, some relevant, others not so much. But the important thing to note is the change: from "pirate", the increasingly technological PRC is now mobilizing to protect its own inventions…

To this scenario is added the mobilization of President Xi Jinping - increasingly assertive… and controversial - in the sense of making the People's Republic the axis of geoeconomics, with the project “One Belt One Road”, which aims to reestablish what was the main trade - and civilizational - route in human history, however, this time broadened its objectives to bring Asia and Europe and Africa together in an ambitious multidisciplinary project financed, mostly, by the Chinese.

It is in this sphere that the issue of COVID-19 comes in.. The performance of the Chinese has earned increasing recognition, as well as growing - and radical - critics around the world. Despite the “obscure” way that the epidemic behaved at the beginning, that originated in Wuhan, how do you know, they became committed participants in the fight against the disease. Not only are PRC companies the largest manufacturers and exporters of disease-fighting equipment, otherwise Chinese experts are also providing assistance around the world. Strategy “redemptive”?…So much so that on the last day of the WHO General Assembly, this last Tuesday, Europeans complained that American isolation in the organization “created a leadership vacuum in the fight against the pandemic, that has been occupied by China”. On the opposite way, D.T. threatened to cut US funding to WHO, who accuses of privileging the Chinese…

According to Sun Tzu, “CALCULATION” is followed by “COMPARISON”. It is precisely at this point that the Chinese-American relationship is found.: o “COMPARISON” between the two economies / civilizations. That is, the conclusions that some international actors are reaching regarding this “big dog” fight. Faced with the increasing resourcefulness of the People's Republic on the world stage, governments, entrepreneurship, academia and the general public are wondering if the COVID-19 crisis represents(á)was the moment of inflection – “baton pass” – from the USA's global hegemony to the PRC.

Ambitious question, and in a simplistic way, if we resort to history, especially in these last two centuries, including the tragic period of Western colonialism and its by-products. I always tell my students that in international relations “nothing is black… nothing is white: everything is gray, in its different nuances ”. In the evaluation of the routes that Humanity is walking, it is difficult to superficially question consolidated scenarios and values, preconceptions, prejudices, “Post-truths”, sympathies, antipatias (for whatever reason…) and which side are they. And unless there’s a very obvious disruptive factor - and COVID-19 would be one of them? – hegemonies succeed each other along a process in which time is elastic: so it was in the case of Egypt, Greece, Roma, Spain, Portugal, Soviet Union, British Raj, U.S (?)…e etc…

We would be facing the beginning of another cycle? That is, following Sun Tzu's teaching, the fifth step of the “War” – the 'VICTORY' - would be given by China?

I suggest to friends to read the article below Estadão

Trump's threat to WHO paves the way for China to lead fight against covid-19

Essay, The State of São Paulo | 20 from May of 2020 | 05h00

The threats made byDonald Trump in the last days, to cut funding and abandon theWorld Health Organization (WHO), strengthened China's position and paved the way forXi Jinping lidere a luta global contra acovid-19. On Tuesday, 19, on the last day of the WHO general assembly, Europeans complained that American isolation created a leadership vacuum that has been occupied by the Chinese.

 “It is amazing to see Xi Jinping seize the opportunity and open up, with great cooperation, proposing US $ 2 billion and saying that, if there is a vaccine, they will share it with everyone”, a European diplomat told theReuters Agency. “This is exactly what we feared: the space left by Washington being occupied by Beijing. ”

Monday night, Trump sent a letter addressed to the director of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, giving a deadline 30 days for the entity to commit to “significant improvements”, at risk ofpermanently cut American funding e, in last case, withdraw the US from the institution.

O president of the United Statesaccused WHO of favoring China and to have ignored “reliable reports” that the virus has spread in the city of Wuhan, in early December or even before. "I cannot allow US taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that clearly does not serve US interests", wrote Trump.

On Tuesday, the WHO director said the organization will continue to lead the global response to the virus. "We want transparency more than anyone", stated Tedros. All the 194 entity members, including China, agreed to open an independent investigation on the pandemic response, including the role of WHO itself - one of the demands of the American president.

WHO also passed a resolution yesterday thatsupports the possibility of patent breaking for future vaccines or treatments for covid-19, meeting a demand from the poorest countries to guarantee equal global access to treatments. The spirit of the text is the same as that contained in the Doha Declaration, World Trade Organization (OMC), of 2001, that paves the way for compulsory licensing of vaccines and medicines in health emergencies - which was used to fight HIV.

The USA, despite not having blocked the text, published a statement with reservations to the resolution. The American government rejected the unilateral patent breach, saying that vaccines and medicines should be distributed “voluntarily” by laboratories. “Breaking patents would send the wrong message to innovators who will be essential in the search for solutions that the whole world is looking for”, says the statement from the American delegation.

The counterpoint to the US position was given by China, who supported France and the emerging countries, stating that any vaccine that is discovered should be treated “as a public good, for collective use ”. On Tuesday, further increasing Trump's isolation, aEuropean Union apoiou a OMS. “It is time for solidarity, not to point the finger or to undermine multilateral cooperation. EU supports WHO efforts ", said the European diplomacy spokeswoman, Virginie Battu.

The US sends US $ 450 million annually to WHO, greatest contribution made by a country. The money had already been frozen by Trump in April, as a way of putting pressure on the organization. However, Xi's promise to give US $ 2 billion over the next two years was a way of neutralizing American influence and tripping Trump.

Yesterday, the Chinese government again rejected the American accusations. "The US is trying to use China to shift responsibility for the poor management of the pandemic", said the Chinese chancellery spokesman, Zhao Lijian. / REUTERS and AFP

Originally published in https://internacional.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,ameaca-de-trump-a-oms-abre-caminho-para-china-liderar-luta-contra-covid-19,70003308318

+ posts

Doctor of Public International Law in Paris. He entered the diplomatic career in 1976, served in Brussels embassies, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, Islamabade (where he was Ambassador of Brazil, in 2004). He also completed transitional missions in Vietnam and Taiwan. Lived 15 years in Asia, where he guided his career, considering that the continent would be the most important of the century 21 - forecast that, now, sees closer and closer to reality.