May 15, 2021
The conflict between the US/West and China will shape humanity’s future more than any other conflict. Therefore, it is not a bilateral issue but a global concern. I believe it ought to be on top of the agenda at the peace research institutions that have not turned state-dependent and/or US-mainstreamed.
Both the Trump and the Biden Administrations have determined that what is going on in Xinjiang in China is a genocide and lots of mainstream media, editorials, policy statements and experts have spread this ”determination” as the truth.
However, not one has checked the accusation’s documentation, the stated “independence” of the producing institutes or the experts’ ideological connections.
The world has a right to expect that the extremely serious genocide accusation is based on rock-solid evidence.
To find out what this is really about, TFF decided to examine the allegedly most authoritative report on the matter, the March 8, 2021 report from the Newlines Institute in Washington and the Raoul Wallenberg Center in Montreal.
We found that it doesn’t hold water and is clearly driven by motives less noble than a genuine concern for human rights. And that is to formulate it diplomatically. It’s basically rooted in the circles that make up the MIMAC – Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex spiced with values of foreign policy hawks, Christian fundamentalism, Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Israel interest groups.
With this TFF report, TFF does not take a stand on whether or not this is a genocide – for that we would have to get on the ground in Xinjiang. Read/download our analysis here and please share it.
The Newlines/Wallenberg report is part of a huge US/Western concerted effort at developing a new Cold War with China. You have surely noticed that there are only 7 negative stories in Western mainstream media – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, dictatorship, threatening military build-up (South China Sea) and exploitation of China’s partners in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And not one story about positive developments.
Western media have nothing to say about humanity’s most impressive development experience in just 40 years, the education, basic human need satisfaction, alleviation of poverty, unique infrastructure development – or how China has already put Covid-19 behind it. In the first quarter of this year, the US economy grew 1,6 %, the EU -0,6 and China 19%.
If a country does not define democracy, freedom and development the same way as the West, there is no reason to be even curious. Instead, it’s all about demonising, confrontation, sanctions, accusations (as the TFF report shows), military games close to China and insisting in one report after the other that China is the threat of today and the long-term future. And only a threat.
Just listen to President Biden’s speech to Congress on April 29.
First, he says that ”the US never ever-ever stays down; Americans always get up, America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies and light over darkness” and ”we are ready for take-off again; we are working again, dreaming again, discovering again and leading the world again.” He talks about the necessity of winning the competition with China. And he is totally convinced that Chinese President Xi Jinping is “deadly earnest about [China] becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world.” “He and others – autocrats – think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century with autocracies, because it takes too long to get consensus.” ”To win that competition in the future, we also need…”
It’s negative energy, confrontation, competition and win-lose. Former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo – when issuing his ”determintation” that Xinjiang is the place of a genocide – hinted that China’s policies in Xinjiang can be compared with the Holocaust, thereby also implying that Xi Jinping is a modern-day Hitler. And earlier he stated that the free world must change China or ’China will change us.’
A growing number of Western intellectuals, from Jeffrey Sachs to Henry Kissinger and a long series of experienced experts on China – and I myself as no China expert – consider this view of China outdated and self-defeating for the United States, indeed for the West as a whole. But do such voices reach decision-makers anymore in Washington? Do we have a chance in the media in the West? No, no longer.
If you wonder why you just have to consult the US Congress Bill S. 1169 – Strategic Competition Act 2021 from April 21 which documents the US wish to fight China and use American and other ’free’ media to spearhead the propaganda efforts with hundreds of millions of dollars.
If anybody could – and still can – influence the US to choose a more constructive path, it would be friends and allies in NATO and the EU. But, regrettably, it must be acknowledged that the EU has shown zero capacity to manifest itself as an alternative to the US and that it has also been unable to shape a policy on Yugoslavia at the time, refugees, Covid-19, Libya, Syria, Russia, Iran and China different from that of Washington.
In this perspective, we are heading for disaster in my view. The Himalayan tragedy of it all is that no one is out to get the US. Rather, it is committing a slow suicide through warfare, denial, visionlessness and an inability to reform/adapt to the emerging new and very different world rapidly being shaped. It seems to not be able to live without enemies and without seeing itself as ”leading the world again.”
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Why is it that the US sees China a a mortal danger?
I shall here avoid the usual factors of economy, trade, accusations of theft of intellectual property, Huawei, and the 7 stories above. I think we need to go deeper and offer these less material points.
(1) The US itself is declining as a superpower; it is an empire growing old, there is no long-range vision or real political innovation, an increasing reliance on military power/warfare/intervention/regime change – rather than diplomacy. And there are the classical indicators of decline and fall such as overextension, militarism, and lack of legitimacy in the eyes of others. The US Empire is increasingly resembling the old grumpy patriarch who, frail (infrastructural decay), insists to have his way no matter what but fundamentally doesn’t see that the world out there has changed. He clings to an old version of greatness and prepares nothing for a changed future – he has always gotten his way by threats and intimidation, so why not in the future too? Elements of Biden’s speech above may serve as illustration of this point, and all this is internal psycho-political denial and dynamics.
(2) China is a gigantic challenge because it is creating a socio-political model that has never been tried before built on the eclectic idea of mixing (both/and) elements which in the West cannot be mixed (either/or) such as capitalism with socialism and communism; market and state; centralisation with decentralisation and local participation; private capitalism with state capitalism, etc. Since the model seems to work well, it undermines the idea that the Western model is the only/universalisable – and the best.
(3) It has one leading party (and some smaller ones) with 90 million members making up the central leadership while having a contract with the people and allowing lots of local initiative and bottom-up expressions of ideas that are processed centrally. That fundamentally challenges the Western concept of democracy.
(4) It is based on a family/collective self-understanding in sharp contrast to the individual Western stereotype – on asking what you can do for your country and not the other way around – à la Kennedy but never done in the US. It’s a form of collectivist ethos that challenges Western individualism.
(5) It thinks longterm and has a longterm vision of 40-50 years, the West operating on 4-year election periods.
(6) And – with reference to Xinjiang – it has handled a serious terrorism problem effectively in the sense that there has been no terrorist attacks the last 3 years in Xinjiang whereas the US Global War on Terror has lead to numerous wars, the displacement of 38-50 million people from their homes and hundreds of thousands killed – from Afghanistan to Syria – as well as hundreds of millions of innocent people suffering suffocating sanctions. China has, in this perspective, won the war on terrorism, the US has lost it.
(7) It has lifted 600-800 million people out of poverty, in just 30+ years, while the West and its ”developing” countries are still burdened by the shame called poverty, hunger, lack of health, clean water, etc. while unimaginable wealth has accumulated with a ”1%” Western elite. Again, the Chinese have done something the West has not managed, or prioritized, and since this can be interpreted also as a huge victory for human rights, it undermines – implicitly at least – the particular human rights interpretation and policies of the US and other West.
(8) China operates deep down and every day on Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism which the political West and its media never bothered to try to understand – whereas the Chinese have learned a lot about the Western cultural code and also learnt English. One may serious ask what elements of culture, philosophy, principles and ideology the West is running on today (and without having already violated them itself).
In other words, China is different in lots of ways and can not be understood by Western ways of thinking. To understand China and to cooperate with it, you need to accept that it is fundamentally different, that Western concepts and norms cannot be imposed on it and that your basic attitude should be curiosity – exactly as the Chinese have been curious about the West for centuries and as it has learned what it needs from it – however without becoming Western.
And in my view it never will or should.
In conclusion and to dare a prediction, the West – and humanity – shall win by curiosity, dialogue and cooperation – a very good recipe for conflict-resolution – and it will lose by confrontation, China-bashing/Cold War and by trying to apply old-fashioned missionary methods to make it Western. The choice should be clear when you look at the political, economic, cultural and scientific ’correlation of forces’ on a horizon of 5-50 years.
Particularly when you are old and declining, try to get the best out of it or you’ll get the worst – which is not necessarily war (but can be as Kissinger has recently warned the world). The worst Western scenario will be self-isolation and marginalisation, a future life as a museum of a time gone – alternatively a tragic island-like, locked-down dictatorship of the last believers.
The West must learn to live on an equal footing with The Rest, in unity in diversity not uniformity under a US leadership/dominance/authoritarianism. And that is, in my view, something it will have to learn within the time of the Biden administration. We must not accept even one more day wasted on potentially fatal confrontation and Cold War policies.