The Panicky Eagle Circles the Dragon

China’s Premier Wen Jiaboa has thrown the U.S. press and Congress into a tizzy with statements at his annual meeting with the press. The NYT grumbles on page one that China is employing the dastardly tactic of “using the rules” of international trade to its own advantage. Paul Krugman, an increasingly strident economic chauvinist, in a column titled “Taking on China” bellows that “something must be done.” China is threatening the world’s recovery from crisis he cries, omitting the facts that said crisis was engineered on Wall Street right here in the good old USA and that China has produced a stimulus package in a timely fashion which has arguably done more than anything else to jerk us back from the brink of Depression. Calling for a 25% punitive tariff on Chinese goods, Field Marshall Krugman seems bent on leading us into economic warfare with the awful consequences that may entail. Nor did Krugman mention that roughly 60% of China’s exports are made in U.S.-owned enterprises there, a result of the offshoring to which Paul Craig Roberts has repeatedly called attention. Within hours 130 members of Congress, from both wings of the Ruling Party, acting with uncharacteristic speed, released a letter calling for the same kind of damaging tariffs.

To get relief from the hyperventilation coming out of Washington and to gain some perspective on the place of China and U.S. Empire in the world, let’s look at some numbers. The annual global total of national GDP’s is now about $60 trillion dollars. That of the U.S. is about $14 trillion, a staggering one quarter of the total, of which at least $1 trillion is spent on “national security,” mostly on the Pentagon’s tools of war. The second and the third largest national GDP’s on the planet are those of Japan and China, at a little less than $5 trillion each, and together only about two thirds of the U.S.’s. Thus, the U.S. Empire rests on a fabulously wealthy economy, a testimony to the unmatched power of unbridled capitalism, using everything at its disposal including slavery and war, to produce wealth. The U.S. economy is way out in front and will remain so for a long while, barring a major unforeseen calamity. Even more enlightening is a per capita comparison of GDP’s. Since China’s population is roughly four times that of the U.S., its per capita GDP is about 10% that of the US. No wonder Wen Jibao made the point that it will take 100 years before China reaches the developmental level of the rich Western countries. China is no longer dirt poor as before its revolution, but it is not rich; and for the U.S. to go after such a country with a living standard far below its own smacks of ugly bullying and cruelty.

Equally inescapable in such consideration of the place of China and the U.S. is the weight of thousands of years of culture. In the case of Europe including the U.S., that culture has been imperial and colonial. When Columbus set out on his voyages, a whole new epoch in European expansionism was opened up. The United States joined this overseas plunder in a decisive way at 19th Century’s end in the Spanish-American war with the annexation of Cuba, Hawaii and, most violently and notably, the Philippines.

China, in marked contrast, has a history of defensiveness spanning many millennia after the consolidation of the Middle Kingdom. China always had to contend with invaders from without, usually from the North and West, a fact that molded its mentality. The final invaders, however, came by sea from the East, from Europe and America. But almost a century before Columbus set sail, the Ming emperor sent out the navigator Zheng He at the head of a fleet of 200 ships, which dwarfed the puny vessels sailed later by European explorers. Over 28 years, Zheng reached 30 countires, including India, the East African Coast, the Red Sea and perhaps far beyond. But the Chinese did not colonize, much less conquer. The Chinese have always been avid traders but not conquerors. The Silk Road and not Crusades were the mark they left on Eurasia.

While Krugman and his rabid troops in Congress cry out that China threatens the U.S., quite the opposite is the case. Of this there can be little doubt. The declared policy of the U.S. is to dominate the globe militarily and economically. In fact these two goals cannot be separated since wealth is the key to military power. But, consistent with its history of adopting a defensive posture, China shows no inclination so far to pursue military dominance. China’s present policy is to have no overseas military bases, and it has none. And of course military expenditure is at odds with investment that raises the standard of living, the project that the Chinese government has accepted to retain the Mandate of Heaven.

U.S. policy is to “contain” China. What precisely does this mean? In the economic realm it apparently means tariffs or worse. In the military realm, always the U.S. Empire’s strong suit, “containment” means placing a Great Wall of alliances and military bases around China. In this context, the U.S. wars in Central Asia take on meaning, beyond the simple goals of gaining access to energy reserves and laying waste as many Arab and Muslim lands as possible, converting them into client states in order to satisfy Israel’s demands. Some in the Chinese military have expressed increasing alarm about this development. But over and above this crescent of U.S. bases and alliances in Central Asia, a military confrontation if one were to come requires a U.S. ally with a vast reserve of manpower. Hence, aided by Israel, the U.S. is developing an ever deepening alliance with populous and poverty-stricken India, 1.1 billion strong, as Vijay Prashad documents in his excellent book, Namaste Sharon. China is trying to thwart this alliance by the tactic of developing tighter commercial ties with India. Here China pursues the Libertarian prescription that armies do not cross borders when trade does. But to set India against China militarily could involve human suffering and slaughter on a scale worse than World War II.

In sum, to remain number one economically, the U.S. has no choice but to halt China’s development or slow it to a crawl by whatever means. One way would be to choke off its energy supplies. Another would be to force upon it crippling military expenditures. Or both. While it is true that China’s economy is less than a third of the U.S.’s, China’s growth rate is much greater. Again do the numbers. If China can grow at the rate of 8% per year and the U.S. at 3.5%, then in 25 years China will slip ahead of the U.S. economically – on the basis of total GDP but not per capita GDP which is likely to take 100 years. Impossible? Perhaps, but China has a giant internal market with enormous demand which has the potential to sustain high growth rates for a long time. 25 years is an eye blink in history and certainly U.S. planners and strategic thinkers know that the time is short to stop China in its tracks.

But such an effort, if successful, will leave the per capita GDP of China at very low levels. So for the U.S. Empire to remain number one, it must ensure that the one fifth of humanity who occupy the Middle Kingdom be kept in poverty, cut off from the higher living standards enjoyed by the West. Whatever way one looks at it, that policy is a colossal crime against humanity, whether pursued militarily or “simply” by economic means. Do we the citizens of America want to be part of such a project?

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com. Read other articles by John V..

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  1. MichaelKenny said on March 17th, 2010 at 10:29am #

    This ties in with the attack on Greece. The simplest way to “stop” China is to undermine the mass of US debt it holds. I’m guessing therefore that the banksters are planning to crash the dollar so as, inter alia, leave China sitting on a heap of worthless paper but do not want to abandon dollar hegemony. Hence the need to destroy the euro, if not the EU, before attacking China. This is probably the first “war” of the multipolar world, with the US taking on both China and the EU, while holding Russia at bay with warmongering in Eastern Europe. The last person who took on the whole world was Hitler. Look how he ended!

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain said on March 17th, 2010 at 12:01pm #

    China’s most dangerous enemies are the Zionists, who have betrayed their enmity in the ‘Save Darfur’ humbug,aimed as much at China as Sudan, and a number of other provocations. Of course Israel is playing a typically duplicitous game, but the antipathy is unavoidable. The Zionists have reached a very satisfactory situation, with a secure redoubt from which to run their various rackets, from financial malfeasance, and arms trade, to trafficking in people, human organs and drugs such as ecstasy. As well as all the criminal enterprise Israel is the centre of, there are lucrative opportunities in high-tech and other less sordid businesses. Israel occupies a unique position in human history, a racist,expansionist, terror state, not just protected from international law by its bullying hyperpower puppet, but receiving billions a year in tribute from the Empire.
    The eventual eclipse of the US by China,where Jews will never pull the strings in the manner in which they do in US politics, media and finance, would end Israel’s days of glory. Of course if the Zionist state was prepared to live in peace with its neighbours, there would be no need to fear China’s rise, but they’re not interested in compromise or cohabitation with creatures they regard as lesser forms of existence, and that’s all of us, folks. One simply hopes and trusts that the Chinese understand this reality. The future will see a rapidly increasing demonisation of China,and the Zionists and their Sabbat Goy stooges will be behind most of it, just as they have been behind the tsunami of hatemongering and vilification of Islam and Arabs.