By Shamus Cooke
You'd think the U.S. was already at war with China, given the immense amount of anti-China rhetoric spouting from the government and media. But selling wars takes time. The average American hasn't bought in to this false advertising yet. So the big lie will be repeated until its roots are deeply sunk into the American psyche: China, says the U.S. government, is a threat that needs to be "dealt with.”
This propaganda assault is multi-faceted, taking aim from all directions. Any China-related issue — military, economic, and social — is open for attack. For example, the head of the U.S. Department of Defense, Robert Gates, recently visited Asia and focused much of his trip talking about China as a "military threat.”
What is this threat? Gates answers that China has shown a "rapid buildup of military capability,” proven by its production of a "stealth fighter.” The U.S. media had a field day with this news, intending to sow terror in the psyche of the American public.
A quick glance at the numbers reveals that Mr. Gates and the unquestioning U.S. media are unabashed hypocrites: China is nowhere near the U.S. when it comes to military expenditures: the U.S., under Obama, will spend $725 billion in 2011(!), while China will spend $80 billion.
When it comes to overseas military bases, China has zero; the U.S. has at least 737!
While Gates was traveling throughout Asia on his Chinese provocation tour, Hillary Clinton joined the attack, targeting China's human rights record in a lengthy, inflammatory speech, which included this slight:
"… when China lives up to its obligations of respecting and protecting universal human rights, it will not only benefit more than one billion people, it will also benefit the long-term peace, stability and prosperity of China."
Yes, China is a violator of human rights, but in voicing her criticism Mrs. Clinton managed to raise the bar of hypocrisy to new heights.
Has Clinton forgotten that Guantanamo Bay remains open, filled with tortured people who are charged with no crimes? Has she forgotten that Bagram Air base in Afghanistan continues to deny the International Red Cross access to its "black site" detention center, since they would discover the torture chambers described by ex-detainees? Need we mention Bradley Manning, who remains in solitary confinement without any criminal charges, for allegedly informing the American public about U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and all kinds of secret machinations?
But before Clinton's speech became yesterday’s news, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner provided anti-China reinforcements, this time blasting China's economy. The Washington Post reports:
"China's unwillingness to allow its currency to rise in value is hampering U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace and harming the Chinese economy, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said Wednesday… " (January 12, 2011).
Once again, utter hypocrisy. No single government has caused more damage to the global economy than the United States, whose corporations sparked the global downturn by saturating the world with trillions of dollars in fraudulent housing mortgages sold as top-rated investments.
This policy was encouraged by the U.S. government, which gave the corporations cheap money with little oversight, a strategy that continues to this day with the Federal Reserve printing dollars non-stop that U.S. corporations are using to speculate on foreign currencies and drive the prices up of oil and other raw materials worldwide.
The above-mentioned Obama administration officials have no problem peddling their anti-China bias to the U.S. media, which stumble over themselves to provide assistance whenever possible. The New York Times recently published an editorial entitled, The Real Problem With China:
"For the United States, the No.1 problem with China’s economy is probably intellectual property theft.” (January 12, 2011).
In reality, the real problem that the U.S. government has with China is two-fold: China's growth is pushing aside U.S. influence/power all over the world, which has negative influence on the profits of U.S. corporations, which are losing contracts to Chinese companies.
In response, the U.S. is provoking China in the media and militarily, encircling China by arming U.S. allies in the region, especially India, Japan and South Korea. Hillary Clinton responded to this allegation by denying it, while the Obama administration immediately contradicted her by its actions. The New York Times published an article addressing the issue while failing to connect the dots:
"The United States is not bent on containing China, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday, but the Obama administration is cultivating other allies across Asia to help it manage Beijing’s increasingly bold projection of military and economic power." (January 12, 2011).
This policy of encirclement and provocation can easily lead to war. As Obama continues to tighten the noose while China struggles to squirm its neck free, the odds grow that military "incidents" may happen, especially as the U.S. throws additional military force in waters just off China's coast in the South China Sea.
The Obama administration joins the right wing in trying to blame both the recession and the startling U.S. inequality in wealth on China. The real culprits are the corporate friendly politicians in the Democratic and Republican parties, which have both spent decades cutting taxes for the rich and corporations, while encouraging the wealthy to flee the U.S. and its living wage jobs for the third world, where slave wages equal larger profits.
The best way for working people to deal with this situation is to ignore the anti-China hype and focus their fire on the U.S. government and U.S. corporations. Demanding jobs from the government NOW that are paid for by taxing the rich is the best way to overcome the economic problems of the U.S. Working people cannot be distracted by fake overseas threats, whether they are alleged terrorists or foreign governments. The real threat continues to be closer to home.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action.