US imperialist aggression towards China is a life-and-death issue. It threatens the rise of poverty, racism and war, warns Fiona Edwards.
By Fiona Edwards
Published on the Morning Star, Sept 21, 2020
The US ruling class is ramping up its belligerence towards China. This new cold war threatens not just China but all of humanity.
It is vital that the Western left grasps the enormous stakes involved in ensuring the total defeat of US’s new cold war and discards any temptation to take a neutral position on this massive life-and-death issue.
US imperialism is desperate to contain the rise of China, retard the country’s economic development and maintain the US’s domination of world affairs.
The Covid-19 pandemic is greatly accelerating the relative economic decline of the US vis-a-vis China, and attacks on China are accelerating in step.
Should the US succeed in its cold war, the policies of an unconstrained US imperialism on pandemics, climate change, poverty, racism and war threaten to dominate the globe.
Central to the US’s cold-war effort is to attempt to paint China as the enemy on all these major questions for humanity.
The opposite is the case and to suggest that the US and China represent twin evils and adopt the slogan “neither Washington nor Beijing” is not only factually untrue, but provides support for Washington’s cold war.
The US lies being told about China are on the scale of Iraq’s WMD or the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
It is crucial to look at the reality of the contrasting approaches of US and China on the major issues facing humanity.
The US’s catastrophic response to the pandemic
As the global pandemic continues to rage, it is vital to recognise that it is the US policy on coronavirus that is the greatest threat to human life, not China.
Donald Trump has allowed Covid-19 to rip through society because of the US ruling class’s insistence that profits must be protected at the expense of human lives. The results of this policy have been nothing short of catastrophic.
At the time of writing, over 194,000 people have been killed in the US.
In China there have been fewer than 5,000 deaths. Driven by the goal of saving lives, China has adopted extremely effective public-health measures including strict quarantines, social distancing, an efficient test-and-trace system, temperature checking, masks and the use of adequate personal protective equipment.
China has effectively defeated the virus.
Taking into account population size, the coronavirus pandemic has been around 183 times more deadly in the US than in China. The Chinese authorities put public health first. The US prioritised profits.
The US leads the world towards climate catastrophe
As the global temperature rise edges towards the critical point of 1.5°C, it’s clear that the US approach to climate change is leading humanity towards catastrophe.
Trump has spent the past four years blocking progress internationally on climate change starting by withdrawing the US from the UN Paris Climate Change Agreement — the only country in the world to do so.
The US has now become the world’s number-one producer and exporter of oil and gas.
Yet the US ruling class is determined to obscure this reality by blaming China for climate change in an attempt to disorientate the environmental movement in the West.
Historically, the US is responsible for 25 per cent of all production-based carbon emissions ever released.
This is almost twice as much as China’s cumulative emissions which stand at 12.7 per cent.
The US currently emits twice as much carbon per person (16.5 tonnes) than China (seven tonnes).
China has dedicated massive state resources to building up green industries, driven by a commitment to sustainable development and building an “ecological civilisation.”
As the International Renewable Energy Agency points out, China is the world’s largest producer, exporter and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles.
China’s huge state investments are making renewable energy an affordable alternative to fossil fuels globally.
US hypocrisy on human rights
The claims of the US government, echoed by the mainstream Western media, that the US is the “land of the free” and an international beacon of human rights, while China is the land of human rights abuses are both hypocritical and completely absurd.
This is while unarmed black people are gunned down daily by cops and Black Lives Matter protesters are brutalised by various militarised state forces in the US.
CBS reported last week that US cops have killed 288 people since George Floyd was murdered three months ago, and once again black and other people of colour are disproportionately victims.
The US-led “war on terror” over the past 20 years has led to brutal invasions, occupations and bombings of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria which have killed and displaced millions of people in the Middle East. China has done none of these.
Meanwhile at home the decades-long “war on drugs,” in reality a thinly veiled war on African-Americans, has made the US the home of the world’s largest prison population in the world, with over 2.3 million people incarcerated in 2020.
African-Americans are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites.
In per capita terms the US imprisons five times as many people as China does. In 2018 the US imprisoned 655 people per 100,000, whilst China imprisoned 118 people per 100,000.
Despite its own verifiable and widely understood violations of human rights, the US is leading an international campaign against China on this issue.
At its centre are fabrications over China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. Trump’s administration claims that “millions” of Uighur Muslims are been detained in “concentration camps,” with absolutely no evidence, and even that there is “genocide.”
The facts are that the Uighur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled in the past 40 years from 5.5 million to over 11 million and there are 24,000 mosques in the province.
Any serious discussion about human rights in China should proceed from the following facts: in 1949 life expectancy in China was 36 years following a century of imperialist domination.
Today its 76 years. Over the past 40 years China has lifted over 860 million people out of poverty.
While the rise of Western imperialist countries such as the US and Britain took place as a result of colonialism, slavery, racism and imperialism, China’s rise has been achieved peacefully and without dominating other countries.
But China’s peaceful rise is being met with US aggression. The US currently has over 800 foreign military bases, 400 of which are encircling China.
China has only one foreign military base, in Djibouti. The US is increasing its military budget to $740 billion in 2021.
In 2019, the US spent more money on the military than the next nine biggest spenders combined.
US warships are roaming China’s coastline. Britain intends to send its aircraft carrier to the region.
China is offering the world a different model of international relations, based on respecting other countries’ right to determine their own affairs and “win-win” co-operation — with the offer of mutually beneficial trade and investment.
The foreign policy doctrine of China, to build multilateral co-operation towards a “shared future for humankind” contrasts very sharply with Donald Trump’s “America First” doctrine that all humanity must be subordinated to the interests of the US ruling class.
The left in the US and the rest of the West must reject the US government’s claim that our enemy is China and instead understand that the enemy is at home.
The No Cold War campaign is organising an online International Peace Forum on September 26 to discuss how to oppose the US-led new cold war. For details and to register go to nocoldwar.org.