As I mentioned in my previous column, Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, declared the death of the "Washington Consensus" that has dominated the past 30 years, framing neoliberal policies. Sullivan primarily associates this "death proclamation" with China's economic rise.
Sullivan pointed out that the American manufacturing industry has been severely hit by the "China shock waves," emphasizing that this shock was not adequately anticipated beforehand. He highlights how the so-called "China Shock" has eroded the socio-economic foundations on which American democracy relies. Sullivan's proposal for a "New Washington Consensus" is seen as an approach to structure US foreign policy around strategies that revive domestic manufacturing and rescue the middle class. To the extent that even "corporatism" is being debated again in the US.
Liberal globalists interpret the incorporation of Sullivan's approach into the "Biden Administration's" new national industrial policy as a dangerous turn towards a "protectionist era" that could lead to dire consequences for the global economy and international trade. According to these commentators, in the "New Washington Consensus," one country's growth comes at the expense of another. In reality, neoliberal policies have left the countries that implemented them in a state of economic distress, depleting their resources and subjecting them to an unforgiving cycle of debt. These policies were not seen as a problem until they started harming the middle and lower-middle classes in the US.
From a Sullivanist perspective, the "China Shock" is one of the "Black Swan" events coined by American businessman Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A "Black Swan" is an unforeseen event that emerges unexpectedly, even deemed improbable. The 2007-2008 financial crisis was extensively debated in the US as a "Black Swan" example. The difficulty in averting a "Black Swan" stems from its lack of anticipation. Furthermore, a "Black Swan" is particularly significant as it exposes the vulnerabilities of the country in which it occurs. After his book "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable," Taleb wrote "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder."
American author Michele Wucker, on the other hand, points to a type of danger she calls "Gray Rhinos." "Gray Rhinos" represent overlooked, obvious risks. According to Wucker, they are the things that people talk about but do nothing about. Unlike "Black Swans," they don't suddenly appear unexpectedly; they approach step by step. The closer the proximity, the greater the risk. If precautions are not taken, it is inevitable to be crushed under the weight of a two-ton Rhino. Taking our country as an example, the "February Earthquakes" are a typical case of a "Gray Rhinoceros." Similarly, "climate change" is considered a type of "Gray Rhinoceros" threat.
In America, the China hawks (Anti-China Party) now see China, previously labeled as a "Black Swan," as a "Gray Rhinoceros." According to the "Emergency" faction of the Anti-China Party, the "Gray Rhinoceros of China" is much closer to America than it appears. If urgent measures are not taken, America's impalement by the horns of the "Gray Rhinoceros" is only a matter of time. However, from the Chinese perspective, America is China's Gray Rhinoceros. The Chinese pay great attention to fortifying their financial systems against this "Gray Rhinoceros" and addressing their vulnerabilities. The official publication of the Chinese Communist Party, "The People's Daily," frequently features cautionary articles on "Black Swans" and "Gray Rhinos."
The "strategic power competition" or "New Cold War" between the United States and China is creating an atmosphere of distrust in the world. This climate is pushing countries to seek "strategic advantages" externally. Commentators characterize the current national and global economic order, known as "Neoliberalism," as a potential future that cannot provide sufficient benefits, opportunities, and security—a "Looming Danger."
"Black Swans" and "Gray Rhinos" exist in both our personal and societal lives everywhere. Therefore, as a nation, we must find ways to identify our vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings in order to make ourselves resilient. Of course, there is nothing we can do when an elephant enters a china shop, but "Gray Rhinos" are a visible type of risk that can be managed. As the ancient Romans said, "Victory loves preparation." If you are not prepared, you will be the loser.