The Big Decoupling: China, America and the Technical Dominance Struggle
Iain Macwhirter’s review
According to Nigel Inkster, CHINA has ‘a heart of glass.’ His government appears to get childishly irritated at actual or perceived insults from foreigners, considering its immense influence. Recently, we saw an example when Chinese agents published fake photos of an Australian soldier who was supposed to have killed an Afghan child. By calling for an independent UN inquiry into Covid’s roots in Wuhan, the Australians raised Beijing’s wrath.
China has declined to accept an investigation which is not carried out by its own authorities and which, of course, reports directly to the Communist Party of China (CCP). Inkster claims that although the coronavirus was not invented by China, it sought to cover it up. The Chinese authorities have delayed informing the World Health Organization of the spread of Covid-19 in Wuhan and have issued false assurances that it has not been transmitted to humans.
This kind of secrecy is par for the course of an oppressive state where officials are afraid of losing or worse their rights. In China, the death penalty is still extensively used. More persons are executed there than in the rest of the globe combined, according to Amnesty International.
When the extent of the disease was eventually recognized, the Chinese authorities imposed a military-style lockdown on the province of Hubei and its 60,000,000 inhabitants. This performed. A year later, China claims to have virtually eliminated the epidemic.
While Western economies are falling into a post-Covid slump, China is again on the rise. Inkster is worried that the pandemic could mark a significant step on the path to global economic hegemony, the so-called “Chinese dream” This will be partly secured through the Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure network of $8 trillion and customer states that China is developing around the world, mostly through a kind of semi-colonial debt slavery between nations such as Sri Lanka. This involves the Digital Silk Road: the project by China to become a technical powerhouse and reshape the picture of the Internet. Via providing 5G telephony infrastructure, state-backed telecommunications giant Hauwei is trying to build Chinese global supremacy over communications.
China is also determined to become a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI), Inkster writes, having invested billions on technical surveillance and control means. It is a pioneer in facial recognition worldwide. According to Inkster, any significant public space in this vast country is filled with AI-powered video surveillance around the clock. He says that Chinese people frequently receive text messages telling them that they have been fined for minor violations, such as illegal parking or littering.
Each of China’s 1.4 billion people receives a digital score card under the Orwellian social credit system that shows how well they have behaved. In China, becoming a good citizen means paying taxes, working hard and not criticizing the government, of course. Strictly controlled expression of opinion. The supposed Confucian values of reverence for authority, community solidarity, and public order justify all of this.
China has made a mockery of fears that national borders will be broken down by the Internet and repressive regimes weakened. Early on, its bureaucrats discovered that the reverse is true: the Internet facilitates greater social power than analog dictators such as Stalin could ever dream of. In 1995, Bill Clinton said it would be “like nailing Jell-O to the wall.” to try to regulate the Internet.”A decade later,”A decade later,”the Chinese walls were covered with Jell-O.”the Chinese walls were covered with Jell-O.
Firstly, to block externally produced material, they set up the Golden Shield project, known in the West as the Great Firewall of China. China now has the biggest online user community and digital economy in the world, with Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, the CCP-controlled versions of Google, Amazon and Facebook. The Internet has become an instrument to track and censor all forms of intellectual dissent.
But even though modern China sounds like hell on earth, according to Inkster, there is widespread public acceptance of this degree of social control.