Meng Wanzhou, the kidnapped chief financial officer (CFO) of the Chinese company Huawei has appeared before a Canadian court where it has been confirmed that the United States seeks to secure a conviction against her for charges relating to Huawei subsidiaries trading with Iran. Her American persecutors have also revealed (via a Canadian prosecutor) that Washington further seeks to convict Meng of a conspiracy to defraud banks. If convicted, Meng could face decades in a squalid prison in spite of her prima facie innocence of any wrongdoing.
Needless to say, these are political charges and in the case of China’s trade with Iran, Washington is now making it clear that citizens of foreign countries who obey their own domestic laws (in this case China) and those of a known economic partner (in this case Iran) will be subject to human rights violations if they do so much as change flights in an airport within a country that is a subservient ally of the United States (in this case Canada). This precedent ought to frighten all fair minded people in a substantial way.
It has been said before that the United States constitution contains some of the strongest provisions protecting human freedom and dignity in the world and it is true that there are certain elements of the US constitution that are remarkable for their straightforward ethics. The problem therefore is that successive US governments have gradually run some of the most important parts of the US constitution through the proverbial paper shredder, leaving little to show for a document that is hardly discussed by American politicians anymore and even less adhered to.
In the late 20th century, authoritarian US Presidents often pretended to be free thinking constitutionalists, but today under Donald Trump and his motley crew of a cabinet, authoritarianism at home and the authoritarian projection of power abroad is done without any pretence of ethics. Today, American aggression is stark naked wickedness. Yet while even the stark naked, wicked aggression of Hitler’s Germany made certain quarters of the country very rich…before making the fatal error of attacking the powerful Soviet Union – America’s brand of post-modern authoritarianism is making people poorer.
American stock markets have been taking a sustained nosedive ever since earlier in the week when Trump appeared to threaten more tariffs against China by giving himself the super-villain/super-authoritarian nickname “tariff man”. While Trump has subsequently tried to roll back his anti-China rage by pouring patronising praise on his relations with Beijing, the revelation that Meng Wanzhou has been languishing in a Canadian prison since the 1st of December has brought about a consistent free-fall in the stock markets that was only temporarily abated late on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve stated that it is not aiming for immediate nor immodest interest rate hikes. Yet on Friday, stocks were down again as the trade war looks to butcher the bull markets of the first three quarters of 2018.
At present, China is obeying one of Sun Tzu’s wise admonitions when in The Art of War he said,
“Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak”.
While many countries would have already escalated diplomatic protests surrounding the kidnapping of Meng Wanzhou by introducing economic sanctions on the United States, throwing US businessmen and women out of China or even threatening military action if Meng isn’t freed and offered a profuse apology, China is clearly using the situation to gauge just how far down the path of wickedness this authoritarian US administration will go. At the same time, China is still quietly but diligently trying to both secure a trade agreement with Washington and secure Meng’s irrevocable freedom.
Inversely, the United States appears to be strong by setting a precedent whereby no businessman or woman is safe in the wider world from the long arm of US lawlessness. Yet upon closer inspection – what does it mean when a nation needs to resort to extra-judicial (irrespective of what Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau says) kidnappings in order to try and frighten the economic “competition” while still being unable to reverse negative trends in the US stock market? What does it say when US National Security Adviser John Bolton hinted that he orchestrated the kidnapping, proudly admitted that he knew of it just before it actually occurred and did not bother to inform the US President at the time? Furthermore, what does it say when such a provocation was staged during Donald Trump and John Bolton’s meeting in Argentina with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his top colleagues? Finally, what does it say when an American media supposedly protected by the first amendment to the US constitution kowtowed before a Canadian restriction on reporting Meng’s plight for almost a week while still failing to tell the entire story about American recklessness against an innocent woman? What does it say about a nation where feminism is becoming a dominant cultural trend where no one of prominence is speaking out against the human rights violations of an innocent and highly successful woman?
All of this leads one to conclude that the United States is behaving like the archetypal bully that appears strong in order to hide a cowardice derived from the fear of having one’s weakens exposed before one’s peers. While China’s high ground approach to the deprivation of Meng’s human rights may appear to be weak, China is confident that its multilateral global strength will be able to nevertheless secure Meng’s freedom and much more by taking this method rather than by resorting to the kinds of threats that traditionally emanate from the United States and its closest allies.
Chinese officials realise that while America’s neo-authoritarianism has temporarily destroyed Meng’s life, that it is also destroying the US stock markets in spite of the Christmas shopping season, while it is simultaneously exposing the total chaos at the heart of a US government in which the left hand appears to be ignorant as to what the right hand is up to.
For China, the avenues to moderate prosperity, people-centred government and global economic leadership from the position of respect for national sovereignty and a commitment to peace are opening up in an ever wider fashion. China has clearly proved that slow and steady does in fact win the race. By contrast, for a United States that speaks so much about freedom, both America’s own citizens and those abroad subjected to America’s exporting of authoritarianism, are beginning to realise that just as it is with strength, those who speak of freedom are the most authoritarian while those who speak less about the concept are in a position to offer freedom to the wider world in its truest sense – the freedom to prosper at both a human and social level. In this sense, while America’s constitution is in proverbial tatters, China’s Belt and Road model for moderate prosperity is now also a signpost of international justice, fairness, decency and the rule of law.
While China’s Huawei continues to ready itself for the export of life-changing 5G technology throughout the world, the US continues to export fear, violence and malice. What a grim way to end one’s period of global hegemony.