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China And The US: War Or Peace – OpEd

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“US view of China [is] as the only competitor with the capability to systematically challenge the United States across the board, militarily, economically, technologically, diplomatically”

An important but little reported development in global politics took place recently when, after the end of the Chinese Communist Party 20th congress, President Xi Jinping on 27 October said that China is willing to work with the United States to find ways to get along to the benefit of both. His conciliatory message – despite the continuous stream of anti Xi and anti CCP rhetoric from western media and some western political leaders – was clear and unambiguous. This is that as major powers, China and the United States should strengthen communication and cooperation to help provide stability to the world. This offer from China of peace and collaboration in international relations appears to have been ignored or rejected. 

For those following the western media on its China coverage it is not surprising that the weeks leading to the 20th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would see a crescendo in the anti-Xi and anti-China coverage. A daily barrage of headlines from the western mainstream media appeared to sensationalise every possible bit of reportage to mislead, instil fear and anxiety, and denigrate China’s leaders and the Chinese Communist Party. 

The stories – many exaggerated and some verging on the ludicrous – reveal rival media trying to outdo each other in convincing their readers of the existential threat that China poses to the rest of the world. 

Other ‘analytical’ stories focusing on Xi and the CCP appear framed to lead to the regime change objective which the mainstream western media has increasingly set up as its main mission in reporting on China. Perhaps the most prominent was one that’s still available on CNN’s front page with the title “Anti-Xi protest spreads in China and worldwide”.

This report, like others lambasting Xi for his authoritarian leadership and repressive rule, has typically picked on interviews conducted with some anonymous critics of the Chinese government – in this instance a total of 8 Chinese students – to claim that the anti Xi protest movement is now worldwide although there is no evidence of such a development in China or anywhere else in the world.  

Western media addiction to half truths, lies and falsehoods in its reporting on China is not new. It has been applied against every country and leader that the US and its allies have identified as anti-US and anti-West, and sought to destroy since the end of the 2nd world war. This list includes Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Egypt,  Afghanistan, Palestine, Ho Chi MInh, Mao, Castro, Nasser, Lumumba, Allende, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and more. 

Is Regime Change the US Target Or Is It More 

Today the target of western media is focused on Russia under Putin and China under Xi. With China, the objective is not simply to discredit and bring down Xi and to seek regime change. The bigger target is the nation and its people whose advances in the last two decades is seen as threatening western dominance in the key sectors which the west sees as its levers to unquestioned leadership and global hegemony.

Thus in seemingly unconnected areas such as space exploration, economics, social development, culture, science, technology, computer chips, artificial intelligence, geopolitics and governance, the role of western media is not only to run down and stress the bad news about China. Even the common global challenge that climate change provides is not immune to the badmouthing of China’s record and questioning of its motives and objectives.  

In serving as the propaganda machine and handmaiden of the US in demonizing China, western journalists are encouraging xenophobic and sinophobic sentiment and sustaining the “yellow peril” narrative which has reappeared with the rise of China as a economic giant on the world scene, and as a result of the covid pandemic described by Trump as the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu”. Most recently it is not surprising given the massive media emphasis on the alleged ‘genocidal’ policies against the Uyghers in Xinjiang to find that the latest Pew survey report on views and perceptions of China in the west and some of its allies have reached record low negative and unfavourable levels. This is in contrast to the generally more positive views of China held elsewhere in the rest of the world where public opinion is less influenced by western media. 

War or Peace: Will Sitting Down Help 

What will be the true cost and outcome of this sustained anti-China campaign?  And will Xi’s peace offering be seriously taken up? According to the Biden administration’s latest US National Defense report released in Washington which appeared the day after Xi’s call for peace, China is now identified as the US’s main enemy. In response the report has called for significant new spending on US conventional and nuclear weapons “for decades to come”.

In justifying this latest strategy, a senior defense official, echoing Trump and Biden, has argued that China is the US’s “pacing challenge” because it is “the only competitor with both the intent and increasingly the capability to systematically challenge the United States across the board, militarily, economically, technologically, diplomatically”

It is clear that even if Biden poses as a true believer in world peace and sits down with Xi in the coming G20 Bali summit, the US is not about to change its global geopolitical strategy of a unipolar world order led by the US. Not only will greater militarization of the US directed against China continue unabated but new fronts especially in the technological and economic sectors to take down China and competitors from the country will be opened up. Fear, jealousy, a sense of insecurity arising from inability to compete are the hidden side of the coin of  “human rights” and ”adherence to rules-based international order” which the US regularly invokes in condemnation of China. 

China’s diplomats hoping for normalcy in bilateral relations with the US will no doubt be fully cognisant of the US response to any form of challenge to its political and economic hegemony. Following the Cuban revolution led by Castro in 1959 to end the political and economic hegemony of the US on the island, the US attempted to remove Castro by assassination and to bring down Castro’s government by economic embargo and counter revolution including the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. 

60 years later, today, in the most recent UN General Assembly meeting held on a resolution calling for the end of the US economic blockade on Cuba, the US was one of two countries out of 186 member countries that voted against the resolution (Israel was the other). Although member states have long condemned the embargo as cruel, inhumane and punitive, this vote by the US is the 29th year in a row that has seen the US defy the UN system.

The rest of the world can expect a similar prolonged, sustained and no holds barred battle to be waged by the US to keep down China.

Lim Teck Ghee

Lim Teck Ghee PhD is a Malaysian economic historian, policy analyst and public intellectual whose career has straddled academia, civil society organisations and international development agencies. He has a regular column, Another Take, in The Sun, a Malaysian daily; and is author of Challenging the Status Quo in Malaysia.

One thought on “China And The US: War Or Peace – OpEd

  • November 7, 2022 at 8:15 pm
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    Dr. Lim Teck Ghee has distinguished himself again.
    This op ed piece is crisp, clean, elegantly crafted, balanced and timely particularly as the prospects for peace recede in the face of increasing American belligerence and saber rattling. The US faces serious domestic problems of its own including issues at the very heart of what used to be thought of as the “bastion of democracy” in an otherwise unstable world. Increasingly the US appears to be like an erratic and jerky pendulum biting at the bit for aggression against China, Perilous, irresponsible business, Brinkmanship of a most dangerous kind.

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