The emerging countries of the Global South admire the values of the West. Its citizens would rather live in the United States or a country in the European Union than anywhere else in the world. However, they prefer to do business with China, which they continue to regard as the big global factory and the best lender.
In this world that is moving away from bipolarity, Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met yesterday in San Francisco. It had been a year since they had shaken hands, a year of complex relationships in a more fragmented and less secure world.
The latest survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (CERE), a think tank based in Brussels, which La Vanguardia publishes exclusively, shows that the United States remains the preferred ally of emerging countries when they fear for their security, but they are betting on China when they are looking for greater and faster economic growth. They want a world "à la carte" where no alliance is forever.
There is no country that can produce as many things and at such a good price as China. Its workers are poorly paid and unions are banned. Europe and the States have benefited for decades from a commercial relationship that emphasized production and cost reduction. Now that they lose confidence in their former partner and look at how they can reduce economic dependence, supply chains adapt, but so do prices. There are new partners that do not have China's strategic rivalries, but Western factories that set up in Latin America or Southeast Asia are not as competitive. A study by Harvard and Dartmouth universities indicates that imports from Vietnam are 10% more expensive than those from China, and 3% more expensive than those from Mexico. Emerging countries do not see China as a strategic rival and want to benefit from its cheaper products. Consumer goods made in China have increased consumption and reduced inflation in Europe and the United States for 40 years and now they want the same effect.
It seems logical that, due to the struggle with the West, 74% of Russians want more of China's presence in their economy, but not so much that 60% of Saudis and 50% of Turks also want it.
The survey, which the CERE has carried out with the Europe in a changing world project, from the University of Oxford, in eleven European countries, in addition to the USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, draw a world "à la carte", where relationships are very fluid and no one marries anyone. The same countries that think that the USA and Europe are a model of values and rights consider that they are the main culprits that there is no peace in Ukraine.
When Europe and the US claim that the war will not end until Ukraine has recovered all the territories that Russia has forcibly taken from it, even if that means much more time and many more deaths, emerging countries believe that there is no nothing more urgent than a ceasefire and that, if the price of peace is a diminished Ukraine, it is worth paying because, in his opinion, Russia will win the war in five years anyway.
In addition, four out of ten respondents say that the EU will break up in the next two decades due to the internal divisions already caused by the war. For example, 67% of Chinese and 62% of Saudis think so.
Timothy Garton-Ash, Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard, authors of the survey, consider that, if Europe is to survive in this new "à la carte" world, it must abandon "the Iranian past", that is to say the belief that a more peaceful world is possible. They think it should invest more in its defense and adopt “strategic interdependence”, that is, the ability to close very different deals with very disparate partners.