Beyond American Dollar, What China Wants

Guns, swords and human braveries ruled the world for centuries. The old world was lead by weapons and the most powerful nations were the ones with the most sophisticated military army. But in our time, that is changing. Yes, arsenals matter, but for the relative peace of the modern world, what rules the world is the economics.


Irrespective of your warheads, if you do not have the economic power and leverage, many will seldom care. The world has an attraction and that is economic prosperity. Have all the nuclear weapons and your citizens are poor, the world will take note, but few will envy you. In the same vein, I do not think the nuclear strengths of Pakistan and North Korea have made investment managers and world leaders to treat them with respects.


But think of China; the undisputed leader of the new age. Hate them, love them, the Chinese are doing great. They have unrivalled strength, efficiency and vision to have transformed their nation and accomplished what took many nations centuries in about three decades. Yes, in three decades, a new nation was born, different economically from the old one.


When you notice that in the last ten centuries, China has dominated the world in at least six of them, you will agree that the Chinese are indeed a special breed. They have tenacity and power to overcome adversities and succeed. They have reached the top of the mountains and faded before. Now, they are rising with strong unmatched economic pragmatism and brutality. You better watch; the Chinese are coming. From Africa to Latin America, they are buying the world.


That brings up the question? How long will the US dollar matter as the universal currency? How long will the Chinese continue to live under the influence of the dollar, over yuan? How long will China and Russia continue to allow their assets to be calibrated by the dollar?


To answer these questions, let us briefly discuss what has happened over the years. From US multinational firms to congress, there is this case that the Chinese have used their currency to trade to undue advantage. There is a major case that the Chinese have manipulated their currencies. And some think that without this activity that China may not be recording feats over feats in the international arena.


It has surpassed Germany as the world’s largest exporter. It builds foreign reserves across the globe as if cash is ocean sand. The political leaders are getting bolder, daily, and challenging the global old order.  How? Paul Krugman said in the New York Times that Chinese weak yuan is costing America 1.4m jobs. He along with other economists wants Chinese goods to be surcharged with tariffs in order to force China to strengthen their currency. Why not? America is in liquidity trap and only China with its massive reserve can help.


One needs to remember that China has about $2.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves; about 70% of this in dollars. How can you take a fight with someone that have such a huge influence on one currency? Mr. Wen Jiabao, the prime minister of China has maintained that his currency is stable and not undervalued. It is very complex; but who cares what the politicians say today. They can change positions the next day (if the pressure piles). But in my own perspectives, China can revalue the currency and nothing will change in the long term.


Richard Nixon engineered a similar surcharge policy over US trade partners and won the 1972 election. Obama may do the same, but the results may be different now since many U.S firms have presence in Chinese markets. If not cautiously implemented, it could create problems for businesses.


Personally, I think that within the next two decades, if, I repeat if, China continues its expansion and growth, it might begin to plan to do away with dollar on pegging its yuan. It will find allies from Africa to Latin America. The way it has bought into Africa, it can influence many of the governments.


In a flight three years ago from Owerri (eastern Nigeria) to Lagos, 50% of the local flight was occupied by Chinese. I was in Kano (northern Nigeria) last year; the number of Chinese I met at the airport was surprising. In a trip to Kenya, I noticed they were everywhere. In a shop in Ethiopia, I noticed that the sales ladies wished they could speak mandarin.


Simply, China will find allies to have a currency where they will peg their currencies, instead of the dollar. And I think Russia will support them. Brazil will support them. Turkey will support them. They already own many African nations. And their economic strengths will dwarf any politics of intimation.


I have one contribution to make here. I love the dollar, but America must note that what made the dollar a global currency is not the color or the name. It is the nation behind it. After all, these are all papers. If the nation continues to pile debts and disinvest in Africa and allow China to take charge, very soon, a new global currency will evolve. And dollar will make way for it. I predict that the name of that currency will be ‘union’ after the United Nations.


I see that this century is Chinese and as they have ruled more than half of the last ten, this belongs to them. It is a reality, learn how to do business with the Chinese because they have a destiny, even currency ‘war’ cannot stop. Yes, Timothy Geithner, American treasury secretary will do his best and bash China; unfortunately, what made the dollar powerful were not the words of his past counterparts. Rather, the ingenuity and innovation of this amazing nation. The strength of the dollar is a function of the health of the U.S economy. If that is not sustained, it will make way for union.

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