This paper has no intention of pursuing the individual personalities of the real persons behind these two names. They are both global leaders hailing from very different political and cultural backgrounds. This essay’s real task is to pay attention to the institutions that they represent and how these institutions have impacted on the geopolitical conversations, international relations and the general wellbeing of each of their countries and the rest of the world especially in the context of the Covid 19 and more specifically the world in the next foreseeable future. The predictions are hair-splitting, some sensible while others are enwrapped in political and even punitive rhetoric.
Beijing’s system is very clear to the world even though some operations are never known because how it works is a deductive methodology by a well carved out core leadership with a central command and is expected to be carried out and then followed up into the farthest provinces, including Tibet which now basically is under the control of Beijing. There might be an exchange of ideas and a certain top-level of consultancy, which might be a luxury to the lower ranks in the Central Communist Party (CCP).
The system is so exclusively unknown that the world thinks that it is Beijing based, but who knows whether it is every province-based too. Beijing’s central command to provincial and even further afield could be based on central command replicas and an imaginative structure that is being speculated by overseas counterpart, just like the ‘passing away’, ‘critically ill’, ‘in a vegetative state’ of the North Korean leader. But the real working of the ‘Chinese CCP system’ is even unknown to the most in China let along other teeming interested parties wanting to know how they function. A system in place and it works like an unstoppable ticking clock, order work to schedule and ideological vision are the inner mechanism.
The classic is the controversial Wuhan health crisis with Covid 19. What is so far known is that it began there how it began is speculated and theorized by outsiders, why because the system within is not willing to compromise because they feel that the world is hell-bent on finding them as the culprits. Hence, the system is furthermore structured to protect what they think as their integrity for their people. However, a good part of the world is after ‘a pound of flesh’, Beijing repeats Portia’s Shakespearean response, ‘yes a pound of flesh but without shedding a drop of blood’ (original: This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood). The system is inwardly fortified itself so that nothing could be penetrated. This de facto is a failure of other systems of their agility to be diplomatic and strategic towards the Chinese psyche, basically, the world political leadership seems not aware of how Chinese think and function. There is a famous Confucian saying, “the green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm” (See. The Analects). It indicates the inner working of a system. It naturally absorbs the shock. There is also a Taoist method of Wu Wei Wu: “action without action or effortless doing: conscious non-action, the deliberate and principled decision to do nothing for a reason. Such traditional Chinese philosophical promptings are further reiterated in the Tao Te Ching, “when I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need”. Quite compelling leadership ingredients are compounded in the tradition. Hence, it is a system that even for the good, the bad and the ugly works well for the system to carry on. They are convinced that the system created will safeguard the system, therefore to protect the system is to protect China from the external and the internal enemy. So shall they bend for the ‘wind like a reed in order to come back once the wind is swept away.
The asymmetry is the new status quo it seems like in Washington, but on a daily basis aspires to instigate a new alliance to challenge the CCP its right to rule as a body even though Washington is also willing to recommence trade talks which again is symbolic of its asymmetric behavior pattern. Concerns are growing in Washington as well as the neighboring countries of the South and East China sea maritime movements. US Marines are deployed after the regular warships were marooned after the Covid 19 attack on at least two vessels with a large number of naval officers. An asymmetry is that the four-year-old incumbent presidency in an unprecedented way in the history of the United States seems to have belittled its institutional framework especially in managing the Covid 19 when the US has a had a brilliant pool of scientific minds, erudition in technological know-how, skilled administrators, well-qualified economists, unique entrepreneurial talent and socially concerned individuals and groups. Their silence makes the asymmetry alarmingly devastating as the fatality numbers have passed 80000 at the time of writing.
China and the US are global players, but they must play their cards well if they wish to remain at the helm of symmetrical international relations. Neither can isolate each other or should be allowed to be isolated by the rest of the world. Neither should be the policeman of the world. Beijing and Washington should go back to ‘the table’ (metaphorical in the post Covid19) to talk on their humongous investments and trade deals. Bavaria in Germany, Lombardia in Italy are infested with Chinese investments, these cannot be ‘like runaway brides’. Europe and the US simply cannot go back on these deals. The system in China has worked for Chinese and demonizing it will not be useful to get the best out of China for the world. It must be a win-win situation. System and asymmetry may work and may not work, but as the New Yorkers say it; ‘give it a shot man’.