By Fiona Edwards
Whilst mainstream Western media has been focused on hyping up the alleged ‘threat’ posed by a solitary Chinese balloon which was blown off course into US airspace last week, officials in Washington have been concentrating on working with key US allies in the Pacific region to escalate the military encirclement of China in preparation for a potential hot war in Asia – the consequences of which would be truly devastating for humanity.
The furore over the balloon has sparked a diplomatic crisis leading to the cancellation of high level meetings scheduled to take place in Beijing between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang — meetings which could have been an opportunity for the US and China to explore ways of co-operating to tackle the seismic challenges facing humanity.
Instead of embarking on a policy of international co-operation to solve shared problems such as the deepening climate crisis and the prospect of a global economic downturn in 2023, the entire US political establishment is uniting around an extremely aggressive policy aimed at stopping the rise of China.
The extraordinary economic, social and technological development of socialist China is regarded in Washington as an existential threat to the US’s global hegemony, which US elites are determined to preserve by means that could endanger every person on the planet.
The US’s relative economic decline is increasing the threat of war
In the past three years, including through the pandemic, the US comprehensively lost in peaceful economic competition to China. China’s growth in the past three years has been a total 13.3 per cent whilst the US economy has grown by 5.3 per cent during the same period. China’s economy therefore grew 2.5 times as fast as the US between 2019 and 2022.
According to the latest data (2021) China’s economy is already 18 per cent larger than the US economy in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms. The US’s relative economic loss to China is set to continue. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook Update published last month predicts the US will grow 1.4 per cent in 2023 whilst China is projected to grow by 5.2 per cent.
It is therefore clear that the US’s attempts to slow down China’s economy through “cold war” policies such as tariffs, sanctions, diplomatic attacks and propaganda slurs are failing to achieve results.
Whilst the US is failing to compete with China economically, it remains the case that the US is the most powerful military force on Earth. In 2021, for example, the US spent more on the military than the next nine countries combined. The US military budget for 2023 has grown to a staggering $817 billion. The US has over 800 military bases around the world — more than 400 of them surround China — and a large stock of nuclear weapons.
Losing in peaceful economic competition, the US administration is therefore attempting to push confrontation with China onto the military terrain where it is strongest.
Increasing US provocations over Taiwan
Four-star US Air Force General Mike Minihan has predicted that the US will be at war with China in 2025. The actions of the US indicate that serious preparations are being made to engineer a hot war with China.
US interference on the question of Taiwan in particular is becoming a key flashpoint in international affairs.
Taiwan is part of China — a reality that the international community overwhelmingly recognises. Moves by the US to encourage Taiwan’s “independence” would represent an attack on China’s sovereignty and the Chinese government has been very clear that such an attack is a “red line” which the US should not cross.
Yet the latest US military budget allocates $10 billion in military assistance to Taiwan and the new US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is currently planning a trip to Taiwan in what would be a deliberately provocative attempt to erode the US’s support for the “One China” policy. It follows the controversial visit of former House speaker Nancy Pelosi in August 2022.
The military encirclement of China
Alongside attempts to provoke China over the Taiwan question, the US is also calling upon other countries to join in its aggression against China.
Japan is seeking to double its military spending to $331 billion over the next five fiscal years and is deepening its ties with the US military. Last month Japan began construction on a new island military base on Mageshima which will be used by US military forces.
Australia is also strengthening military ties with the US, with moves to station US long-range nuclear bombers there. This year Australia has announced it will be spending billions of dollars on US-made Black Hawk helicopters and advanced missile and rocket systems.
Britain, as a junior partner to the US, is also working with Japan and Australia to strengthen the military build-up against China. In January Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed an agreement with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that allows British forces to be deployed to Japan. In September 2021 Britain joined the Aukus military pact alongside the US and Australia.
The US and the Philippines also announced a new military agreement in February of this year which allows the US to access four additional military bases in the Philippines and maintain equipment on those bases. The agreement calls for the US to spend $82 million on infrastructure investments at the five bases currently used by the US.
Meanwhile Nato’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg travelled to Asia in late January, visiting both South Korea and Japan with a clear agenda of promoting hostility towards China. Nato’s aggressive expansion in Europe has caused a major war in Ukraine which Nato powers continue to escalate through send billions of dollars’ worth of weapons rather than seeking a resolution to the conflict through negotiations and a political solution. Nato interference in Asia can only bring further threats to world peace and prosperity.
For peace and co-operation
The Western media claims that it is China which poses a “threat” to the security of the world — but this has no basis in reality. China did not spend the past 20 years waging a “war On terror” which killed millions of people in the Middle East, China does not have 800 military bases circling the globe (it only has one beyond its borders) and China does not want either a cold or hot war with the US. China has in fact repeatedly stressed the need for international co-operation.
It is the US that is on a warpath. Building the broadest possible movement to oppose this threatening agenda is a crucial task facing us all.
The above article was originally published by the Morning Star here.