There has been a lot of talk recently about China’s growing presence on the world stage and how the US as predominant power should react to it. With that in mind we go to China, just outside the Forbidden City, where the Chinese are planning their strategy…
Xi Jinping: There are many factors we need to consider, economic and political. Today we are an economic servant to the West, building their iPhones and other toys. We need to learn to take their place.
Planner: The Americans have many advantages. They have excellent universities and their pick of talent from all over the world. They have an interlocking system of university, government, and private research labs. It’s hard enough to catch up, much less to lead.
Xi: We have to go step by step. I’ve heard that many of their new companies are led by foreigners. We can cut into that and certainly lure our own people home–a little xenophobia would help. As for education and research, we know that government money is critical both in government labs and in the universities. We have to find a way to slow down that money and then duplicate their system here.
Planner: Sounds like a lot of work, but we’ll start on it. They’ve been working for decades to get where they are.
Xi: We need to get more specific now. What are the lead technologies we can use to establish our dominance?
Planner: It’s hard to answer that question. Software is always there; the particular new twist seems to be Artificial Intelligence. That ties in with robotics. Biotech. Probably the biggest thing is energy–climate change means the whole world will have to convert.
Xi: The Americans are big players in all of those, but progress is very international. If we can get them to isolate their people we can win. Energy is too big–we need to limit their role.
Planner: They were a driving force behind the Paris Climate Agreement. Maybe we can sabotage that.
Xi: Great. Good first step!
Xi: The next subject is politics. The Americans have been leading the so-called ‘free world’ forever. Everybody works with them; no country wants to be left out. All major international agreements of any kind go through them. They’ve done very well that way–they are the richest, most dominant country in the world. Our presence is tiny compared to theirs–how can we match their influence?
Planner: The only way I can think of is to get them just to quit. Get out of our way so we can take over.
Xi: I don’t understand.
Planner: It seems that over the years the Americans have come to believe their own propaganda–that all of their international agreements and institutions were setup out of pure beneficence! Nothing to do with remaining the richest, most dominant country in the world. They even think that about foreign aid.
Xi: You’ve got to be kidding. No one else thinks that.
Planner: All we’ve got to do is push them over the brink: No international institutions, no foreign aid–all unaffordable charity and a foreign plot.
Xi: You really think you can pull that off??
Planner: Well, just a minute. We need some kind of slogan. Something catchy…
Planner: I’ve got it!! AMERICA FIRST.
Xi: Welcome to the Chinese Century.