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Jess Frampton

​The pivot to nowhere?

Washington announced its “pivot to Asia” 10 years ago, believing that the future of international politics would be defined there. But a perpetual game of whack-a-mole, exemplified most recently in Ukraine, has occupied US foreign policy, making it impossible to “course correct” and counter China’s influence.

Much like Michael Corleone’s efforts to get out of the family business, only to get pulled back in, Washington’s been immersed in its own unsettled affairs rooted in the war on terror (Afghanistan), Donald Trump’s “America First” approach (Iran nuclear negotiations), and the residue of the Cold War (Russia vs Ukraine). These crises have diverted attention and resources away from a China-centric pivot to Asia. However, the war in Ukraine has highlighted America’s need to establish greater leverage over Beijing more than ever.

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Podcast: No Empire lasts forever: How China’s rise could trigger a new world order

Listen: What keeps Ray Dalio, one of America’s most successful investors, up at night? Three things: spiraling debt, a weakening dollar and a rising China. China is closing the gap on US economic dominance as its geopolitical influence grows, Dalio tells Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast.

The US economy is negatively impacted not only by its debt but also by the widening wealth gap among Americans, and these all play into Beijing's plans to surpass the US as a global superpower, says Dalio, author of Principles for Dealing With the Changing World Order” and founder of the world’s largest hedge fund. Does this mean investors should bet on China over the US?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Jess Frampton

The US and China are too busy to fight

At the dawn of the US civil rights movement, Atlanta mayors William Hartsfield and his successor Ivan Allen promoted Georgia’s capital as “the city too busy to hate.” Whatever the reality of race relations at the time, both men wanted Atlanta to avoid the confrontations plaguing other southern US cities, and to open their city as the commercial hub of the “new South.”

In recent decades, US and Chinese leaders have relied on a similar approach to relations between the two countries. The risk of conflict was obvious, given differences in their interests and political ideologies, but there was much money to be made and stability to be gained as long as they protected their mutually profitable business opportunities.

But over the past five years, US and Chinese words and deeds have taken on a harder edge. As US post-Cold War dominance of the international system has eroded, and as Xi Jinping has more explicitly offered China’s leadership as an alternative to the West’s global rule-setting, Washington and Beijing have seemed headed toward a digital-age Cold War. Former US President Donald Trump pushed for a more open confrontation between the two powers, and current President Joe Biden has done little to change course.

There is good news, however, for those who believe that a US-China Cold War would be catastrophic for both countries and the world. In reality, both countries are far too busy to transform rivalry into hate. But it isn’t just business opportunities that now preoccupy them. It’s also major domestic challenges and distractions, particularly for China, that demand something close to their full attention.

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Beating China at AI | GZERO World

Beating China at AI

The US and China compete on many fronts, and one of them is artificial intelligence.

But China has a different set of values, which former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is not a big fan of — especially when those values shape the AI on apps his children use.

"You may not care where your kids are, and TikTok may know where your teenagers are, and that may not bother you," he says. "But you certainly don't want them to be affected by algorithms that are inspired by the Chinese and not by Western values."

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Annie Gugliotta

What We're Watching: Blinken goes to Southeast Asia

Blinken tours Southeast Asia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicks off on Monday his first Southeast Asian trip as America's top diplomat with stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Following similar tours by VP Kamala Harris and Defense chief Lloyd Austin, Blinken wants to bolster US defense cooperation with ASEAN, an economic bloc made up of Southeast Asian countries, to build a bulwark against China in the South China Sea. He will also pitch Joe Biden's vision for US-led Indo-Pacific trade as an alternative to doing more trade with China, and talk up Southeast Asia as an alternative business destination for US companies looking to abandon China. But what ASEAN really wants is tariff-free access to the US market, a non-starter for Biden because he says big trade deals with low-wage countries will hurt low-skilled American workers. Meanwhile, Southeast Asian countries are in a bind of their own: doing more business with the US as an alternative to China will create jobs, but the Chinese won't be happy about it — and nowadays they carry a lot more economic sway in the region than America does.

Who’s Winning the Global Battle for Tech Primacy? | GZERO Summit | GZERO Media

Who's winning the global battle for tech primacy?

How is China able to control their tech giants without suppressing innovation?

For Ian Bremmer, one important reason is that there's a big difference between Jack Ma questioning Chinese regulators and Elon Musk doing the same to the SEC.

"In the United States you've got fanboys if you do that; in China, they cut you down," Bremmer told CNN anchor Julia Chatterley in an interview following his annual State of the World Speech.

Still, he says China knows it cannot kill its private sector because it needs to keep growing and competing with American tech firms.

So, who's winning the global battle for tech primacy?

Right now, Bremmer believes the US and China are at tech parity — thanks to their tech giants.

"When we're talking about tech supremacy, we can't just talk about governments anymore."

Hundreds of migrants camp at the Belarus side of the border with Poland near Kuznica Bialostocka, Poland, in this photograph released by the Polish Defence Ministry, November 10, 2021.

MON/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Eastern Europe border crisis, US-China climate pledge, Bolsonaro’s a centrist now

Migrants suffer as Eastern European deadlock deepens. The stalemate at the Polish-Belarusian border continues, with reports that several migrants languishing in freezing temperatures in the forest have recently frozen to death while waiting for asylum. The EU says Minsk is using the migrants as a political weapon against Brussels international heavyweights have intervened in recent days to try t chart a path forward. German Chancellor Angela Merkel – who's just days away from her retirement — has been appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his sway with Minsk to resolve the dispute. Putin, who's no doubt enjoying his clout and leverage, says that Brussels needs to negotiate directly with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko – but that has been a non-starter so far because the EU has cut off communication with the strongman since his rigged re-election last year. Feeling emboldened by the standoff, Lukashenko doubled down Thursday, saying that if the bloc slaps fresh sanctions on him, he would cut off the flow of gas that flows from Russia to Western Europe via Belarusian territory. That's a scary prospect indeed for a Europe which is already dealing with painful gas shortages as winter approaches.

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IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva talks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before a news conference following the "1+6" Roundtable meeting at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China November 21, 2019.

REUTERS/Florence Lo

Should China get more IMF power?

The annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund normally gets little attention beyond economists and policy wonks. But this time all eyes were on the fate of Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, widely praised for the IMF's swift action to avoid a pandemic-fueled global depression and recently caught in the latest crossfire between the US and China.

Georgieva finally kept her job after being confirmed by the IMF board late on Monday despite strong objections from the Americans and the Japanese, the Fund's two biggest shareholders. But what was all the fuss about?

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