Imagine an Iron Silk Road -- also known as the Third Eurasian land bridge, a 15,000km high-speed rail network - linking the southeast port of Shenzhen; Kunming, in southern Yunnan; and Xinjiang, in western China, to Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and then all the way to the mega-port of Rotterdam. That translates into China significantly less worried about shipping across the Indian Ocean through the bottleneck of the Strait of Malacca, which could one day be blocked by US warships.
Imagine the Chinese-financed cousin of the Panama Canal; the $40 billion, 286km Nicaragua canal linking the Caribbean to the Pacific.
Imagine the port of Lianyungang as the departure node for the Second Eurasian land bridge linking China to Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and then all the way to the juicy markets of the European Union.
This is what the collective leadership in Beijing is imagining; the mega-connected largest economy in the world. And when that happens, new rules must apply.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP
Make no mistake; the collective leadership in Beijing well knows that a slow US decline has been an ongoing proposition since the 1973 oil shock -- in parallel to the US dollar losing its value since the US ended its tie to gold in 1971.
The corporate US response to the rising cost of labor in the West plus automated mass production was to transfer practically the whole American industrial base to China, thus multiplying its profits (and in most cases paying for the delocalization through tax breaks).
In the long run, Asia could not but win. Washington tried all sorts of monetary scams to slow the decline. To no avail; productivity kept falling in the West and rising in Asia.
And then the Federal Reserve kept printing paper like there's no tomorrow, buying bad debts from "too big to fail" banks and US Treasuries, and thus funding Washington's ballooning spending.
Beijing still buys US dollars only because -- for the moment -- this is the global reserve currency. Dollars are needed for the oil trade. Beijing would rather spend its humongous stash on real acquisitions, and not just US Treasury bonds.
Beijing's game, in a nutshell, is to bypass the US dollar by all means available. That's the idea behind setting up currency swaps with over 20 of its top trading partners -- from BRICS countries to African commodity producers and strategic energy partner Iran. China is slowly but surely driving the progressive global flight from the US dollar.
Washington's mob tactics forcing the shady, corporate-concocted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over Asian nations treated more like subjects than partners also helps. As for the much-hyped "pivoting" to Asia, most players -- apart from Japan and the Philippines -- certainly see which way the geopolitical and geo-economic wind is blowing.
In the Big Picture, there's still no visible way out from casino capitalism -- featuring monopoly money and stock exchanges and commodity prices totally controlled (and rigged) by computers.
Yet even the IMF has called for a new global financial architecture. Beijing bets on an endgame of the US dollar as reserve currency being replaced by a basket of currencies, including the IMF mechanism of Special Drawing Rights (SDR).
At the same time Beijing -- as well as Moscow - know that for the system to change, it's essential for a new reserve currency to be totally backed by gold (or silver). So part of Beijing's plan is to accumulate gold by all means possible to back up the emerging, convertible yuan. Of course this will take time. But Beijing has been at it for five years now; the yuan may become fully convertible as early as 2017.
The real game changer will happen when the petrodollar, essential for the awesome American military machine to be financed by the rest of the world, meets its match. That would imply the -- for the moment unforeseeable -- possibility of the House of Saud and other GCC petro-monarchies willing to embrace the petroyuan, as in China not having to use US dollars anymore to satisfy its energy thirst.
Only then we will be living in a "de-Americanized" world. And make no mistake: this is the desired endgame of China's long game.