A threat from Beijing – a salvation from Brussels

The negative perception of China in Western countries results in the interpretation that imperial ambitions are hidden behind the investment power of Chinese companies, which results in constant attempts to keep the power of official Beijing under control, mostly without visible separation of political and economic goals.

Concern about the lack of reciprocity is constantly expressed on both sides of the Atlantic – the administrations of American democratic and republican presidents have led this relationship to the highest level of apprehension for decades, while the countries of the Old Continent support economic relations through distinct investment projects and interstate cooperation, remaining concentrated to the mere need to stay unwavering in giving priority to democratic values, in the spirit of which the key points of bypassing China should not be overlooked.

In a situation where some form of failed economic cooperation recognizes the risk of geopolitical confrontation, it is necessary to emphasize that it restricts to a lesser extent from the place taken by China in relation to the position of the West, where the leading investor from the East comes to a hostile environment.

At the same time, there each European capital chooses more intensive economic cooperation with Beijing, despite increasingly visible efforts to name China’s relationship within the EU as a common threat, and therefore to form a common Western block as a result of creating a common action. The formation of such a bloc, however, is far from the European agenda, mostly due to dissonant tones among EU members who are not ready to easily give up the benefits of cooperation with the Middle Kingdom.

Although the withdrawal of production from Chinese industrial plants has not happened despite many announcements, European and American governments have ceased to see China as a place where cheap labor tirelessly produces sneakers and phones, as trying to create a joint strategy to strike back at the unstoppable dynamics of the development of artificial intelligence, telecommunications equipment and 5G infrastructure become more visible.

Such a groundbreaking China does not fit in with the typical American and European thought patterns of rivalry that once existed with The Soviet Union, where it was not difficult to recognize the purposes for distancing or suspending cooperation.

In China, there is only one segment in front of which the capital-driven West closes its eyes from time to time – the form of government and the notion of human rights, due to which they are not able to consider that country as an ally in any field except the commercial.

The American answer to the Chinese question is reflected in the belief that the values ​​of one civilization are those that another should accept since they have proven to be good. Several US presidents and presidential candidates, in their comments on US-China relations, persistently assured the global audience that economic liberalization would be followed by political ones, i.e. that Chinese economic growth would undoubtedly be accompanied by the strengthening of human rights and freedoms.

From the emergence of civilization until today, no empire in history has managed to achieve so much economic, military, and political authority over the rest of the world the way that the United States did in just 232 years, that is, from the day George Washington became the first American president.

The history of China lasts for millennia, and its wider population did not feel much benefit until the end of the 20th century, and just at the time when the American nation was experiencing a flourishing of democracy, the Chinese people were struggling with the consequences of the Opium War. Yet, in just a few decades at the turn of the 21st century, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of the deepest poverty and transformed into the most numerous and stable middle class on the planet.

The Chinese dictatorship and the attitude towards the role of the individual in society for the Western world, especially for the EU, which arose with the idea of ​​fighting totalitarianism, are incomprehensible and unacceptable to the same extent that it is inconceivable in China that Western democracies shape social media.

Western countries, and especially EU members, are becoming increasingly aware that China is not creating its plan to be in the European market in the form of a relationship with a single entity, but to avoid a blockade by building bilateral relations with governments that have never recovered enough from the crises from the end of the first decade of this century, in which the measure of support to the economy included the selfless rescue of the banking sector, which irrationally strengthened its own position and therefore caused the crisis.

At least this post-crisis moment sheds light on the EU’s real priorities – in the absence of a single bloc and a common response to external factors, while the heterogeneity most clearly reflected in the Greek euro-crisis, there is the belief that Brussels is the place to go and cry over any country’s China-related problems are more than naive.

Moreover, Montenegro has just appeared on that scene with a binary interpretation of the world, the division into East and West in one single section where it has disappeared over the previous decades – the investments.

Of course, Brussels and Washington, as well as all other centers of the Western world, will welcome Montenegro’s discontent if it recognizes possible indicators of China’s aspirations to shape the world according to its sociopolitical model, where it would have the right to veto power while making economic or security-related decisions.

However, being united on the political, but not on the economic level, in general, sends a sincere message that could be read between the lines in the European response to the Montenegrin request for help with the highway loan – “we have our own problems, too”.

The Montenegrin version of this text is available here.

The Twenties

The years we imagine the way we saw them through modern literature, jazz, surrealist painting, Charleston dance, and some of the oldest sound films have at least once led many of us to think of it as the most creative and productive part of human history, accepting that it was the perfect time to enjoy civil liberties, small and great victories in the struggle for women’s rights and the products of the second industrial revolution, in the course of which the master of the era was transformed into useful inventions with which life became better and more beautiful.

The time immediately after the First World War, called the Great War at that time, as it was believed that it has ended all battles forever, and which took 10 million lives and left about eight million disabled, seemed to say that conflicts were persistently a thing of the past and that no one will have a reason to return to them anymore, because there was only one signpost at the crossroads of humanity – to move forward, but without warning that this path leads to deep crises, detachment, hatred and fascism.

Nearly after WWI, the Spanish flu appeared – a strong epidemic of lung disease that spread for years and during that time killed more than 50 million people. Life in the United States at that time was marked by a ban on the production, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages – prohibition.

However, the 1920s witnessed robust economic growth, which led to a modern form of consumption based on innovation – products and services that did not exist before, which were bought because of their competitive advantage and the way they were promoted. Radios and other gadgets slowly entered the homes of the Western world, and cars were increasingly seen in the streets.

Apart from all these items that had the actual cost of production, there was also something that added value to everything – – advertising and marketing, an industry within an industry that then received clear principles and brought much money to those who knew it well and, combined with a sudden growth in demand for industrial products, as well as the dynamic development of new types of banking services, the popularity of service and hospitality businesses, contributed to the creation of a modern American economy, transforming the USA into a leading economic power, increasingly different from European societies. While in Russia, almost seven decades after the publication of the Communist Manifesto, a party with an undisguised Marxist orientation – the Bolshevik Party – came to power, communist movements in Berlin and across Bavaria have been more and more repressed.

The overseas connection has been particularly hampered by the fact that the US has not ratified the Treaty of Versailles, after which it would enter the League of Nations, which slackened this international project. Due to the impossibility to cover the postwar cost of reconstruction, the former Weimar Republic faced huge inflation of 21% on a daily basis, caused by money printing. In just half a year, the US dollar has increased its value by as much as 117 times against the Deutsche Mark.

Hyperinflation, which was the key cause of dissatisfaction of millions of citizens, opened space for support for fascism. Across the Atlantic, the value of capital was rising at an unprecedented speed, and the purchase of securities was authorized with an extremely low percentage of hedging. Borrowing to trade on the stock market was extremely popular, which led to the creation of speculative bubbles when bursting followed in 1929 through a domino effect on the global economy after the outbreak of the Great Depression, which resulted in economic collapse, mass unemployment, drastic decline in consumption and strong deflation.

Whether this reminder of the time between the Great Gatsby and the Great Depression sounded like a description of an era whose contemporaries were blessed or you believe it was better to be lucky enough not to live in that time, no matter what impression you had of the twenties – still you live right in twenties. Only a decade or two ago, although those who could remember that time well are no longer with us, when we would say “twenties”, it would mark the third decade of the twentieth century, the period between the two world wars.

Today, the name “twenties” is just entering speech as a determinant of the time in which we live, which will later become more common. After the 1990s, which the rest of the world remembers for the first home internet connections, unlike Balkan countries that will remember them for wartime events like the twilight of civilization, language constructions did not allow us to group the time we live in and the years within the last decades with common names without sounding like language stunts. The twenties are the first in this century whose name is simple, but in which everything is complicated.

As it was the case a century ago, today we are witnessing the spread of the infection that causes lung disease, market trends resulting from fictitious actions and reliance of the economy on the tertiary sector, money printing, enormous over-indebtedness and households, and countries, fight for women’s rights from scratch, rising unemployment, pronounced intolerance, vampire fascism, and undisguised anti-anti-fascism. Between those two twenties, the world has gone through several major market shifts, of which today’s generations can recall the oil shock of the 1970s and, even more closely, the 2008 financial crash.

All inter-war and post-war crises have shown that, sooner or later, an institutional response is always found to stop them, although at an advanced stage, and then create the conditions for recovery, increased productivity, and reduced inequality. It has, to a greater or lesser extent, succeeded every time. The problem is that such methods were an introduction to new crashes and that, by constantly romanticizing the pre-crisis years, we have set an unsustainable ratio of key parameters as an objective which should be (re)achieved.