Easternisation: War and Peace in the Asian Century

51cQ25DA91LMichael Burleigh at Literary Review:

The new order is evident from the ceaseless travels of President Xi Jinping, a relatively imposing Chinese leader who can virtually kill with a disdainful glance and reluctant handshake (see his first encounter with Japan’s prime minister, ShinzōAbe). Xi pops up not just in Africa and Latin America, for which China is a more important trading partner than the USA or Europe, but also in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Poland to dole out massive energy and transport contracts. Angela Merkel likes to visit a different Chinese province every year in her annual trips to the country too, for €80 billion of exports are at stake. Earlier this year, Xi was lord of all he surveyed when he visited Britain: so eager was the government to herald a new ‘golden era’ in Anglo-Chinese relations that it set heads in Washington wondering what had happened to the ‘special relationship’.

One constant theme in Rachman’s book is how many countries are hedging their bets to accommodate new global realities. Take Australia and Singapore. There is still a lot of quaint talk about an ‘Anglosphere’ and the Five Eyes intelligence network, but Australia now resembles a giant Polo mint, such is the extent of commodity extraction by the Chinese. Although, with great fanfare, US marines are stationed in Darwin, to reflect Australia’s status as the firmest of US allies, this did not prevent the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, from granting a People’s Liberation Army-connected corporation a ninety-nine-year lease on the port at which they are based.

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