Will the US tighten the screws on China?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised, considering the debt Bush owes to the far right, which is notoriously critical of “Red China.” It looks like the process is already in motion.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

Well, there is also the debt the U.S. owes China at the moment, which is about all that’s keeping the dollar going…

December 15, 2004 @ 5:55 am | Comment

So now these so-called “moral” crusaders of a Republican bent are turning to the present regime in Washington to “tighten the screws” on China over issues of human rights. Well…what an irony – and a rather cruel one at that.

Walk into just about any classroom here in China, be it from senior middle school to tertiary level, and, provided you are a skillful enough teacher, you will be able to engage most students in a class discussion about this very topic area: the issue of human rights. Such dialogues can become quite enthusiastic and passionate at times, especially with adult students in English language training centres like New Oriental and the likes.

Yes, they will say, China does indeed need to improve it human rights record. But what right does America have to lecture us, they will ask, when they are in fact the world’s biggest offender? How dare Americans lecture us on our use of the death penalty when they themselves use it? How can they claim the moral highground when they even execute juvenile offenders – a practice which China abandoned back in 1997. In fact, as many young Chinese students will tell you, the United States sits rather uncomfortably alongside only a few countries which continue the practice of executing juvenile offenders: Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

How can those Americans who claim to choose “life” and who criticise China for allowing the widespread practice of abortions be taken seriously when they simultaneously endorse a regime that is responsible for the murder of an estimated 100,000 Iraqi citizens? A regime that employs the use of depleted uranium and other horrific weapons, and who callously dismisses the civilian dead as “collatural damage”. Where is all of this respect for the sanctity of human life that these “right to life” preachers from America claim to have and to represent?

Most Chinese students will tell you that they consider the United States to be the world’s biggest terrorist – and I’m afraid I would have to agree with them on this. The United States is definitely the world’s most aggressive nation of the 20th and, so far, 21st centuries. Since the end of World War Two, it has bombed 21 countries. The first of these was China, which it started bombing almost as soon as the Second World War ended, in 1945. It bombed China again in 1946, 1950, 51, 52 and 53.

Iraq is simply the latest poor nation to be the victim of US aggression. So far, the Bush regime has spent an enormous $78 billion of its tax-payer’s money on this illegal and murderous imperialist adventure. $1.8 billion would have been enough to have fed all of Africa for a year.

The United States spends more money on maintaining a military apparatus than the rest of the world put together, so that it can maintain its grip over all of those developing countries that it regards as theirs. Which brings me to my next point: as most Chinese students will also note, how can America criticise China for its lack of “democracy” when America itself has a record of consistently intervening in the internal affairs of other nations in order to prevent the spread of democracy? It’s not difficult to compile a huge list of dictators, usually very brutal ones, that the US has installed over the years as puppet rulers: Pinochet, Marcos, Suharto, Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, just to name a few. And look at the murderer they are presently trying to replace Saddam Hussein with. And look at the way the present regime in Washington is also right now trying to interfere in the internal affairs of the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter – Venezuela. They seek, once again, to oust a genuinely popular democratically elected government so as to replace it with a puppet who they can rely upon to represent not the interests of Vanezuelan workers, but rather the interests of corporate America.

Nobody in China takes the United States seriously when it lectures on human rights, or on trade issues too for that matter. As one other contributor to this website has already noticed, Kevin Miller above, “there is also the debt the US owes China…”

As Mark Leonard recently wrote in The Guardian, “China is already on its way to becoming America’s chief banker: the $439.8 billion of foreign reserves it has accumulated allows the US to sustain its astronomical budget deficit. If Beijing stopped buying dollars, the US currency would collapse.” The security analyst Francois Heisbourg has even compared the Chinese hold on the dollar to that of a nuclear weapon: “Breaking the dollar would be the functional equivalent of using a nuclear weapon,” he wrote last year. “The possession of such a capability cannot be ignored by the weaker party.”

No nation today is willing to put pressure on China to make trade or financial concessions that could jeopardise its continued growth, because China is now so well integrated into the global capitalist system that its economic health is a matter for global concern.

China, because of the size of its economy, the size of its market, and because of its hold over the US dollar, is in a postion of strength. So much so, that it really no longer takes very much notice of what others want it to do. China has joined India and Malaysia in opposing the kind of far-reaching investment agreements that most developed nations want, and when the US accused China of dumping last year and slapped duties on several of its export products, China immediately retaliated by cancelling a high-level mission to the US to sign orders for agricultural products, thereby costing US farmers many tens of millions in lost business.

China is also now the leading member of the G20, and thanks to China’s huge economic and political clout, were able to successfully challenge the agricultural policies of both the EU and the US at last year’s WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun.

Of course, China, like all other nations, will only continue to stand up for the interests of the developing world so long a those interest coincide with their own. In this respect, China’s approach to trade is no different from the US or the EU, both of which use WTO rules to maximise their own gains and back this with hefty economic weight.

As Nicola Bullard has observed, officially, “China denies any hegemonic or global leadership ambitions; yet economically and politically, it is positioning itself to be the rising power of the 21st century.”

Any attempts to “tighten the screws” on China, either on human rights issues or on trade issues, is very likely to not succeed from here on now, and this, I believe, is something that the Bush regime is already very well aware of, which is why it has to date taken a much softer line with China on human rights issues than most previous administrations.

Washington’s voice on such issues will more likely than not be delivered as a quiet whimper rather than in the form of a strong sermon, and is very likely to be presented from the negotiating table rather than from the pulpit.

Mark Anthony Jones

December 16, 2004 @ 9:57 pm | Comment

The right question is “Will China tighten the screws on the US”..

July 22, 2006 @ 12:55 pm | Comment

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