Despite George Orwell’s “grim prophecy” that “all nuclear superpowers would end up as slave states”, the differences between America and the Soviet Union were always clear, says Niall Ferguson in The Spectator. But can that be said of the US and China? America “seems to be following in China’s footsteps”. In March, President Biden even proposed a western version of Beijing’s Belt and Road global infrastructure project. That’s in addition to his domestic spending plans, which come to almost $6 trillion. The Biden version is “Chinese in conception as well as in scale”, and will permanently increase the role of the federal government.
But copying China puts us on “the path to perdition”. Last year many western countries introduced strict Chinese-style lockdowns to cope with Covid. Instead we should have followed Taiwan’s approach, which combined mass testing, contact tracing and isolation. And there’s an “obvious risk” that vaccine certificates could morph into digital identity cards, which China has been using since 2018. The biggest problem is the illiberal “wokeism” that has infected western institutions. This “low-level totalitarianism” shows how “informing, denunciation and defamation” can flourish in a democracy. Big tech companies can even cancel the President of the United States. If China wins the Second Cold War, its victory will probably have begun when Americans decided to imitate the Cultural Revolution.
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