Superpower and its credibility | By Dr Farah Naz


Superpower and its credibility

A superpower should be a role model for all sovereign states. The US, enjoying being one of the superpowers by holding the largest economy, military might, freedom & free enterprises, excellent democracy that makes her champion of the world. Today, more than 200 countries and entities look up to it in times of crisis, help and support.

All these developing countries look up to the US for kindness, political and economic support, benevolence and all. No doubt, there is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the superpower as the powerhouse of global politics.

It has to work in such a fashion that it remains neutral, unbiased and should not be in the business of cherry-picking exercises.

The US attitude towards world issues should be free of unfairness, partiality and prejudice. Well, these are the public expectations from the job description of the superpower in world politics.

But, when it comes to power dynamics and working unbiased, does the US satisfy all of its above stated credentials or not? Does it fulfil its job requirements free of prejudice or not?
It is generally observed that the US is not treating all states fairly and on equal footings.

The recent blacklisting events have exposed the credibility of the superpower that plays double standards in global politics.

The Biden Administration added a dozen Chinese companies to its trade blacklist on 24 November 2021.

According to western media, of those blacklisted, eight Chinese technology entities were added for their alleged role in assisting the Chinese military’s quantum computing efforts. US officials have long complained that Chinese companies are beholden to the People’s Republic of China and collect sensitive information on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army.

The blacklisting does not stop with the Chinese companies alone, it moves beyond. The Commerce Department also listed 16 entities and individuals operating in China and Pakistan for their work on Islamabad’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.

In all, the Biden Administration added 27 entities and individuals located in the People’s Republic of China, Pakistan, Russia, Japan and Singapore.

According to the US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in a statement shared that “global trade and commerce should support peace, prosperity and good-paying jobs, not national security risks. The Department of Commerce is committed to effectively using export controls to protect our national security.”

The US Commerce Department claims that they want to stop the Chinese military from developing its counter-stealth technology, which could include equipment like advanced radars and counter-submarine applications such as undersea sensors.

These actions also block US material from being used to help China break encryption or develop unbreakable encryption.

They set a condition that suppliers to companies on the entity list should apply for the licence before they can sell to them, which are likely to be denied in the first place.
Indeed, national security is supreme and, above all, not only for the world’s superpower but all states including China that happens to be the second-largest economy and an emerging power.

They also have all the rights under the law to protect and defend themselves against their potential rivals/competitors.

But such recent measures test the credibility of the US as a superpower with all military and economic might which is keen to improve its image in the world.

The international law as exercised by the superpower selectively uses the “pick and choose” as a formula that goes beyond its job/role description in global politics.

The Chinese government reaction to such measures seriously tests the credibility of the superpower where such measures are coming up in times of serious tension between the two superpower blocs, the US and China, over Taiwan conflict and trade issues.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington charged that the US uses the catch-all concept of national security and abuses state power to suppress and restrict Chinese enterprises in all possible means.

The Chinese Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu reiterated that China is firmly opposed to that.

He further said the US should “follow the spirit” of a virtual meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping and “meet China halfway instead of going further down the wrong path.”

According to Shu Jueting, a spokesperson for the Chinese Commerce Ministry said on Thursday 25 November 2021 that China strongly opposes the sanctions on the Chinese companies, and will lodge solemn representations with the US.

Zhao Lijian, the spokesman at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, warned that China will take all the necessary steps to defend its companies, and reserves the right to take countermeasures against the sanctions.

Pakistan also condemned the attempts made by the US where Pakistan’s nuclear weapon is in a foolproof security environment duly acknowledged by the superpowers, IAEA and several US officials such as Admiral Micheal Mullen, John D Negroponte, General Petraeus, Robert Gates, P J Crowley, Micheal Flournoy, James Clapper, etc.

They need to monitor and keep a close watch on the black marketing of Indian nuclear material for being repeatedly sold in the market for a few pennies as per media reports such as: on 30 August 2021, two persons were arrested for illegal possession of extremely rare Sealed Radioactive Source Californium which is highly radioactive and toxic substance; on 4 June 2021, 6.4 kg of uranium was seized in India and police arrested seven persons; on 11 May 2021, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested two persons with 7 kg of natural uranium.

The so-called champion of non-proliferation, the US has remained silent as if on holidays on the nuclear material black-marketing.

Had this been found in the case of Pakistan, the US might have suspended its holidays and would have come/treated Pakistan with the sanction and strict measures.

Isn’t it a dual standard in international political politics? Is it consistent with the job description of the superpowers as mentioned above? It is in this background, that the people are questioning on what grounds the US can blacklist Chinese firms for allegedly aiding Pakistan’s nuclear activities where the US itself is not taking any action against nuclear material black marketing in India, its strongest ally and being a partner in the US-India nuclear deal. Other concerned countries will surely express serious reservations on such extreme measures.

Because, it’s not only favouritism in tech and trade policies that all states are upset with the US but global politics, war strategies and human rights issues that question the superpower credibility in the world, today.

To be a role model and powerhouse representing all states fair treatment is required, not cherry-picking!

—The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Public Policy, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology.

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