The Biden administration is ratcheting up its provocations of China as part of the National Security Strategy of Great Power Conflict, with the President going so far as to say the United States would intervene militarily over Taiwan. The US is also trying to push another trade agreement that would exclude China. On top of that is a propaganda campaign designed to build political support for the New Cold War. Clearing the FOG speaks with independent journalist and political analyst Daniel Haiphong about the war on China, what is happening with Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, Biden's new trade framework and why China's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" threatens the global elites.
Great Power Conflict
Yesterday’s face-to-face meeting in Tokyo of the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) marked a sharp and systemic stepping up of the US-led war preparations against China. On every front—military, economic, maritime surveillance, supply chains, and cyber and space warfare—the government heads from the US, Japan, India and Australia endorsed aggressive measures to encircle, isolate and provoke Beijing. The summit was a key feature of US President Joe Biden’s five-day trip to South Korea and Japan to display what the White House called a “powerful message” that, even as Washington escalates its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine by pouring in another $40 billion of weaponry and support, it is prepared to fight a war on two fronts, against both Russia and China.
President Biden’s December 9-10 “Summit for Democracy” has already stirred up a storm. The White House says the summit will have “three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights” – clearly targeting Washington’s chosen “autocratic states,” China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. The government of Taiwan is among the 100-plus invitees, prompting suspicions that a key goal is de facto recognition of the island as a sovereign state. This continues the systematic gutting of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, signed by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, in which the United States acknowledged the One-China policy and agreed to cut back military installations on Taiwan.
President Joe Biden’s administration is the sixth one to have presided over the 20-year US war in Afghanistan. And he is the fourth president to have overseen America’s “longest war”. Two previous presidents, Obama and Trump, promised to end the “forever war” and both left office without fulfilling that aspiration. So there is fair reason to view with skepticism Biden’s vow this week to withdraw all US troops from the Central Asian war-torn country – known as the “graveyard of empires” – by September. Currently, there are 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan along with 9,600 other NATO soldiers. That’s a fraction of the numbers a decade ago when the war was at its height. Washington and its NATO allies agreed this week to all pull out residual forces by September in an “orderly” exit.
A new international peace movement is being launched that opposes the new US military doctrine that is preparing this country for “major power conflict” with China. The doctrine of “major power conflict” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless the American people act to put the brakes on a doctrine/policy that is escalating global tensions, accelerating a new nuclear arms race, and eliminating accepted international arms treaties. While the Pentagon pivots toward preparations for major power conflict in Asia the non-stop demonization of China by the government and mainstream media has replaced an informed debate about the dangerous implications of the new US doctrine/policy
In a speech on Thursday, July 23 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the Nixon opening to China was a mistake. “We must admit a hard truth that should guide us in the years and decades to come: that if we want to have a free 21st century and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done. We must not continue it and we must not return to it.” (Edward Wong, Steven Lee Myers, “Officials Push U.S.-China Relations Toward Point of No Return,” The New York Times, July 25, 2020). If it is true that the Nixon/Kissinger foreign policy toward China did in fact facilitate the weakening of socialism as a world force, why is the Secretary of State now calling “playing the China card” a mistake? The answer to this question, or more broadly why is United States foreign policy returning to a policy hostile to China, perhaps creating a “New Cold War,” has several parts.
Tensions between the United States and China are rising as the U.S. election nears, with tit-for-tat consulate closures, new U.S. sanctions and no less than three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the seas around China. But it is the United States that has initiated each new escalation in U.S.-China relations. China’s responses have been careful and proportionate, with Chinese officials such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly asking the U.S. to step back from its brinkmanship to find common ground for diplomacy. Most of the U.S. complaints about China are long-standing, from the treatment of the Uighur minority and disputes over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea to accusations of unfair trade practices and support for protests in Hong Kong. But the answer to the “Why now?” question seems obvious: the approaching U.S. election. Danny Russel, who was Obama’s top East Asia expert in the National Security Council and then at the State Department, told the BBC that the new tensions with China are partly an effort to divert attention from Trump’s bungled response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his tanking poll numbers.
In a major foreign policy speech on U.S.-China relations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cast ratcheted-up tensions with Beijing in Cold War terms, announcing that Washington would seek to change Beijing’s behavior and stopping just short of calling for regime change. He described Beijing — and Chinese President Xi Jinping — as a generational threat to “free democracies around the world,” a totalitarian and hegemonic regime that must not be treated like a normal nation. Riffing on President Ronald Reagan’s famous “trust but verify” dictum about the Soviet Union, he said that when it comes to Beijing, the U.S. must “distrust and verify.” “Changing the CCP’s behavior cannot be the mission of the Chinese people alone. Free nations have to work to defend freedom,” Pompeo said.
While the American public, the media, and Congress have largely been focused on the Covid pandemic, demands for racial justice, and other domestic concerns in recent months, the US military has been mobilizing all of its capabilities for a massive show of force in waters abutting China. Every Pacific-based US submarine is now deployed in the area; two nuclear-powered carriers and their escort ships are conducting naval maneuvers there; the Air Force has sent B-1 bombers overhead; and the Army is practicing to seize Chinese-claimed islands. In the most provocative of these efforts, the carriers Nimitz and Ronald Reagan, accompanied by several cruisers and destroyers, have sailed into the South China Sea—an extension of the Pacific that abuts China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines and encompasses several clusters of islands claimed in their entirety by China and in part by the others.
The New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – were launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, first in Central Asia (Nur-Sultan) and then Southeast Asia (Jakarta). One year later, the Chinese economy overtook the U.S. on a PPP basis. Inexorably, year after year since the start of the millennium, the U.S. share of the global economy shrinks while China’s increases. A vast array of nations across the Global South signed on to be part of BRI, which is planned for completion in 2049. Last year alone, Chinese companies signed contracts worth up to $128 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects in dozen of nations. The only economic competitor to the U.S. is busy reconnecting most of the world to a 21st century, fully networked version of a trade system that was at its peak for over a millennia: the Eurasian Silk Roads.
For decades, China has been an enigmatic foe and friend to the United States. From trade to immigration, the two international giants have been linked in inextricable ways in recent years. With Donald Trump’s current trade war with China and the Hong Kong protests hitting headlines, Americans are once again thinking about the Chinese in a more nuanced way. Yet there is still a lot of misinformation about the Asian nation circulating at all levels of American society, including within the Trump administration.
The recent turn of events in Hong Kong has further exposed that the protesters have a close relationship with right-wing US politicians and they are being used as a tool in the Great Power Conflict against China, which is a primary focus of US foreign policy. While the people of Hong Kong suffer from uber-capitalism put in place by the British colonizers and a government that has been corporatized by the Hong Kong Basic Law, which requires half the elected legislature represent industry interests, these protests are not a worker-revolt against the serious economic problems faced by Hong Kongers. The overt nature of the protests being a US tool is demonstrated by the protests now focusing on the United States passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
Some people in the United States are confused about the protests going on in Hong Kong right now. Whenever the corporate media and politicians, especially folks like Marco Rubio, applaud a social movement, it is a red flag that there may be more than meets the eye. Is this really a democracy movement? Are workers protesting the deep inequality and exploitation there? Leftists are divided over whether to support the Hong Kong protesters or not. Fortunately, a more complete narrative of what is happening in Hong Kong and how it relates to the geopolitical conflict between the United States and China is developing among independent and movement media. The following is a description of what has been learned recently.