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The Center of Economic Power Is Shifting Eastward — And the West Is in Total Denial

The West stews in self-denial as China and Russia move forward with the New Silk Road

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Nearly 30 heads of state and government leaders, including Putin, have confirmed they will attend the Belt and Road summit in Beijing on May 14-15. 

China's "One Belt, One Road" plan will revive an ancient trading route stretching from Asia to Europe. Beijing and Moscow have also indicated they have reached consensus on integrating China’s plan with Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union. 

<figcaption>The New Silk Road is happening — with or without Washington's approval</figcaption>
The New Silk Road is happening — with or without Washington's approval

This is an economic game-changer, so you would think that Europe would be eager to get in on the action. Not quite. 

Only one G7 leader, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, will be present for the round table summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, the Spanish, Greek, Hungarian, Serb and Polish prime ministers and Swiss and Czech presidents will attend the May summit.

France and Germany have upcoming elections, so they have opted to send high-level representatives instead. But in general, Europe hasn't shown a lot of love for China's New Silk Road.

Which is puzzling, because China is not trying to exclude the West from its economic and infrastructure plans for Eurasia. On the contrary, Beijing sees the initiative as a way to make the world more interconnected. 

That's obvious unacceptable to the "civilized" West. As Reuters hilariously reports:

Diplomatic sources said the presence of Putin and other leaders from countries with dubious human rights records, like the Philippines and Central Asian states, had contributed to a reluctance among Western leaders to attend.

"What Western leader wants to sit on the same stage as Putin?" said one senior Beijing-based Western diplomat who is familiar with the planning for the summit, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Take a moment and reflect on how amazing and absurd that statement is.

We're genuinely curious: Is the West going to continue to bury its head in the sand, or face the reality that the new center of economic power is shifting eastward? China has invited everyone to the table, but apparently Washington and many of its European partners are stubbornly clinging to their rapidly fading economic "supremacy". 

Change is coming, and Moscow and Beijing are making the proper preparations. Maybe it's time for Europe to face reality?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave a landmark speech last month in which he noted that new centers of economic power will bring an end to Washington's unipolar world order:

The redistribution of the global balance of power continues. We are witnessing new centers of economic power and associated political influence come into being in the world...The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable.

And China's New Silk Road is an integral part of this process of creating a polycentric economic and international order. 

As one of RI's cherished commenters pointed out not long ago:

In the year 2000, the US an its satellite states (G7) accounted for 44% of global GDP. The BRICS together accounted for a mere 18%.
Fast forward to 2015, and the BRICS have now achieved - PARITY! 31%-31% -a blink of an eye in historical terms.
Fast forward to 2030, and the BRICS are projected to account for double the GDP of the G7 including the US.

And the US wants to keep dictating policy to the world? On what basis, pray tell? The biggest military? Blink your eyes again, and that too shall pass.
US policymakers are living in the world of 2000, when Russia was on its knees, China was a mere fraction of the US economy, and India was a non-entity. But that world is gone. The world won't tolerate a US-imposed order much longer.

But Europe can't participate in the Beijing summit — because Putin will be there! You almost feel bad for them. Almost. 

We are often reminded of what Marine Le Pen told Anderson Cooper during a delightful 60 Minutes interview:

Cooper: You don’t believe Russia is a threat to Europe?

Le Pen: I don’t believe that at all. I think that’s a big scam.

Cooper: The invasion of Ukraine…

Le Pen: I’ll tell you what the danger is for Europe. It’s carrying out a Cold War against Russia, and pushing Russia into China’s arms. THAT'S the threat to Europe.

The strategic geniuses in Washington and Europe's capitals have brought this upon themselves: Years of demonizing and saber-rattling have finally caught up with them. Sitting down with China and Russia and finding common ground is no longer politically feasible. After all — what would CNN say?

Instead, the West stews in self-denial and self-isolation. 

In the short-term, their self-righteousness might look noble to vegetable television pundits. In ten years the western world will look back on this moment with shame and frustration. 

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