Wednesday, March 31, 2021
This is the second reflection based on the four streams of Sallux. This reflection focuses on 'Economy and Geopolitics' The European Parliament stands for a momentous decision within this year. The question the EP has to answer is whether it will approve the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between the EU and China. The EU Council approved it in December 2020 but it will only come into force when the EP has ratified it. Johannes de Jong
That ratification is clearly not a foregone conclusion. Especially since more and more reports have come out on the genocide that is taking place against the Uyghur people in north-west China. Of course it was always clear that China is suffering under a totalitarian regime that is persecuting Christians and other religious minorities, allows no freedoms in any aspect and oppresses its population through sheer force. However the deliberate and systematic attempt to wipe out the Uyghur people as a nation and culture through most barbaric means have lead to a shock. The shock is probably not just the crimes committed but the deliberate systematic way they are committed at an industrial scale. That was the shock that made the western world realize the real depth and scale of the oppression by the Chinese regime.
At this moment it is already clear that this realization is creating a geopolitical and economic clash that is felt across the globe. Several Parliaments and the US Government have stated that China is committing a genocide against the Uyghur people. The Chinese regime responded by sanctioning EU, UK and US officials and Members of Parliament (including from UK House of Lords). Furthermore the Chinese regime is at the moment that this is written increasing the pressure on companies who do business with and in China so that these companies will not include human rights in how they are conducting business in China nor speak out against the crimes that are being committed. As a consequence it is deemed very unlikely that the EU-China CAI will be ratified by the European Parliament.
The reality is that we are in a slow-motion geopolitical confrontation between the authoritarian block and the free world. It’s not an conspiracy-theory ‘armageddon’ scenario. It is simply the convergence of interests that is underway. The increasing cooperation between China, Russia, Iran and Turkey is becoming clearer and more concrete in an accelerated pace. The ’25 year investment deal’ between China and Iran is the most recent example. These regimes in turn have each their own (sometimes overlapping, sometimes competing) proxies such as the Syrian Assad regime, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, North-Korea or the Birmese military. The fate of millions is no longer decided by the peoples concerned or even their official leaders but by deals between the four powers listed above. In this it is crucial to understand that in these regimes there is no distinction between economic and political power. Most or all big companies in these regimes are in the hands of the political and military leaders. So almost all economic gain going to these nations will immediately strengthen the oppressors.
This whole situation shows that it is ultimately not possible to disconnect the universal notion of human dignity from economy and geopolitics. It also underlines that we cannot separate geopolitics and economy. The big question is if the EU and EU Member States will understand that there is need for an overall change in policy in economy and geopolitics.
There is need for an economic policy in Europe and globally that does not put the short-term profits of multinationals and the short-term gains of shareholders first. It is precisely that deep-seated problem in our economy that has lead us to a situation in which human rights and our planet were and are sacrificed on the altar of economic gain. The idea that our geopolitical interests are the same as these short-term economic gains appears to be untrue and a farce in its consequences.
It is not in the interest of the citizens of Europe if EU and EU Member-State Foreign Affairs policy is simply focused on the economic gain of large and multinational companies in such a way that it results in a world that is less free and in which ecological concerns are pushed aside.
A world in which unfreedom and destruction of our planet are not kept in check is a world that will immediately and ultimately have detrimental consequences for Europe and EU citizens. If we continue to maintain an economic and geopolitical agenda that supports totalitarian and oppressive systems and ideologies we should not be surprised that we have challenges as immigration and integration. People and communities who never experienced freedom will struggle to live in freedom and will struggle to allow their children to be free in our western societies. But oppression is the core reason that they flee to us in the first place as oppression creates corruption and destruction and it is no more than logical that people will try to have a better life. The costs of the consequences of a Foreign Affairs policy that only thinks in short-term economic gains are ultimately paid by common people both outside and inside Europe. This is why we cannot pitch immigrants against Europeans born here. We all share the same human dignity and the same challenges. Therefore we need a new approach to economy and geopolitics.
We need an economic policy that works for all stakeholders in society, not just the shareholders. That has tremendous consequences for how we deal with the economy in and outside Europe and in turn this will change our whole approach to Foreign Affairs as well. If we take all stakeholders seriously because we understand that they share equal human dignity, we ‘automatically’ will not emphasize short-term profits but long-term development and fundamental rights and freedoms for all. That is the new economy and geopolitics we should strive for.
As a Christian organization we believe that because we believe that Christ died and rose for all people regardless who they are. The message of Easter is therefore a message of hope that gives us all equal dignity and it is for us to work together for a shared future. Christ liberated us from sin and death. We should therefore work for the freedom and hope for all.
Wishing you a blessed Easter!
This is the second reflection based on the four streams of Sallux. This reflection focuses on 'Economy and Geopolitics'
The European Parliament stands for a momentous decision within this year. The question the EP has to answer is whether it will approve the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between the EU and China. The EU Council approved it in December 2020 but it will only come into force when the EP has ratified it.
Johannes de Jong