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Friday, April 24, 2020, 10:47
US narrative on China serves one purpose — self-interest
By Thomas Chan
Friday, April 24, 2020, 10:47 By Thomas Chan

Amid all kinds of propaganda, speculation and pseudo theories about Sino-US relations, one undeniable fact is persistent attacks of China by top echelons of the US government and its main media channels, including President Donald Trump and his senior lieutenants. One might say the trade war launched by Trump is purely economic, aiming at correcting the huge trade deficit of the United States and removing the main structural weakness of its economy. However, the attacks on China have extended beyond economics and trade and have been undertaken under the pretext of a highly politicized concept of national security, one that transforms every policy and non-policy arena into a bitter contest of national interests and national security by the US. Even the coronavirus has been termed as the “Chinese virus” with malicious intentions and purposes. The generous assistance China offered to countries suffering under the pandemic is denigrated as “geopolitical manipulation, just for the sake of China’s own political and economic gains”, disregarding the desperate need for medical support by those who are suffering. The worst political act is the class action of litigation against the Chinese government for monetary compensation to cover alleged losses under COVID-19. Without any scientific proof of the origin of the virus and any reason, even the slightest, why should the Chinese government be held directly responsible for the spread of the pandemic and costs it has incurred on individuals and societies, the initiation of litigation is but a political attempt to apply imperialistic extraterritorial jurisdiction over China with no reasonable arguments and evidence. It might only serve to provide excuses to sanction China, just like the current sanctions the US imposed unilaterally and unjustifiably in whatever ways against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

The US once claimed it had inherited the best of the Greco-Roman tradition of the Western civilization — liberty, equality and democracy. What the US has done since its independence from the British has never dissociated it from new and old forms of slavery and colonialism, invasions and wars. Its new rich wealth accumulation from the exploitation of the land and native populations of the New World and the spoils from a series of local, regional and world wars have given it the cover and resources to pretend to be civilized and democratic. But it has never believed or acted in the good faith of democracy. During World War II, it said it was against the Nazis. During the Cold War, it said it was against communism. With the collapse of Soviet communism, it has been the only hegemon in the world. Yet it has still gone to war — Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, to name well-known cases — and a series of wars by proxies and “color revolutions”. Perhaps it is at the core of US capitalism that it could not maintain its fragile national solidarity and prosperity without mobilization and spoils of wars. So with Trump as president, we have seen the US has increased its threats against many nations, and China in particular, as China has emerged as big as the US, at least economically, but stronger perhaps politically, and it has refused to follow the example of Japan to serve the US with demanded servility.

China is just like Germany, the UK, the Soviet Union and Japan, which the US has to subordinate in its struggle to achieve and maintain global hegemony, the reincarnated Roman Empire. So, whether China is socialist, revisionist or capitalist makes no difference. The crime of China is that it has been too successful in achieving economic prosperity, political stability and national resurgence, as well as its outstanding ability to overcome the coronavirus pandemic that the US lacks. Unless China gives up its national pride and political sovereignty (like Japan, South Korea and other European and Middle East countries, allowing US garrisons and military bases in its territory under US command), or when China fails in its industrialization and economic development for whatever reasons (probably under unequal trade treaties and sanctions by the US), the hostility and attacks from the US will not stop. US-China competition is not the inevitable clash of civilizations, or ideologies of democracy against autocracy, but rather the outcome of the imperialist venture of the US elites following the footstep of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and British in the recent history of the modern world. The “end of history” that the US likes to achieve is the exclusive — not inclusive, not democratic, in whatever ways — domination of the US to eliminate the histories of other nations and of the world as a whole. So there is talk about universal values. But whose values should be universalized to replace someone else’s values? Are these values those of the French Revolution coming out of class struggles? Are they those of American independence that combined anti-colonialism with slavery and genocide of native American peoples? Or should they be the values of the many countries and peoples fighting for independence and economic and political sovereignty against the imperialism and colonialism of the European and American West?

In the last few years, the Trump administration has gradually revealed the political program behind the slogan “America First”, and the current pandemic shows the weakness and cruelty of the US system even toward its own underprivileged citizens and its lack of sympathy and support for others suffering under the plague. The new Cold War the US is raging against China may take a more violent form than the old one because the US has not been counterbalanced by another hegemon like the Soviet Union and because of its declining competitiveness against many rising countries, China being the leading one. This has made it desperate to reorganize the world order to cement its global domination. Will the current pandemic help or defeat the efforts of the US grand design? Would China, Japan and the European Union and others stay idle without reacting to defend their own interests? The “end of history” has proved a false prophecy. “America First” might be another failed prophecy. History will tell.

The author is the director of the One Belt One Road Research Institute, Chu Hai College of Higher Education in Hong Kong. 

The views do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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