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Message to the Peace Movement: A Summary of the New Cold War on China

The New Cold War is a tech war, a propaganda war, an economic war, and a war to maintain US political and economic supremacy.

The following is a revised transcript of a monologue by the author published on The Left Lens YouTube Channel.

The New Cold War can be defined in many ways, but the key word is war. Some call it a hybrid war because of its multifaceted nature. However, too few have been willing to discuss the New Cold War’s shared roots with the Cold War. Similar to the Cold War, the New Cold War on China is essentially a war to contain and eradicate socialism. Dissimilar to the Cold War, the New Cold War is a response to the decline of U.S. hegemony rather than the opposite.

The US economy is shrinking and its legitimacy on the global stage waning due to an obsession with endless austerity and war. China on the other hand is a rising socialist country that will possess the largest economy in the world in the next five to ten years. The state is firmly in control of the commanding heights of the economy or strategically important sectors such as transportation, finance, natural resources, and energy. China’s central government is led by the Communist Party of China rather than so-called “representatives” beholden to corporate interests. 

Contrary to the Western media, China’s growth does not come at the expense of human progress.In the last year alone, extreme poverty has been eliminated, the COVID-19 pandemic contained, and its international political and economic agenda as expressed in projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative has objectively brought immense benefit to the planet. To underscore this point, China has sent 300,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Trinidad and Tobago since May 2021.  The United States, on the other hand, has sent just 80 vials or around 400-500 doses.

The New Cold War is a tech war, a propaganda war, an economic war, and a war to maintain political and economic supremacy. No one aspect of the New Cold War is more important than the other. The whole is driven by the sum of its parts. We must be clear on who is the aggressor of this war, and that would be the United States and its allies.

The association of China with COVID-19 was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back in the New Cold War.

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Throughout the New Cold War, China has urged cooperation, while the United States has emphasized hostility. As President Biden’s so-called “Asian Czar” and National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell stated in late May, the “era of engagement with China” is effectively over . We are firmly in an era where aggression toward China is a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy.

This wasn’t always the case. After the fall of the Soviet Union, also called the “wild 90s” in China’s development, the U.S. hoped that the further introduction of the capitalist market into China would lead to its transformation into a Western-style governance model beholden to multinational corporations and U.S. financiers. The U.S.-China enormous economic relationship peaked at the turn of the 21st century with China’s entrance into the WTO. One can find numerous instances of high-level engagement between the U.S. and China up until the later stages of the Obama administration. In 2011, then Vice President Joe Biden visited a high school in China  and told students that the U.S. wanted to see China grow because it was good for the United States.

Despite deepening economic ties, the seeds of the New Cold War actually date back to the mid-19th century. The U.S. was a participant in the brutal Opium Wars that began what is known in China as the “Century of Humiliation” where more than a hundred million people suffered from extreme poverty, hunger, disease, and foreign intervention. The U.S. placed brutal sanctions on China for more than two decades after the revolution of 1949, effectively cutting off what was a massively underdeveloped country from the world market. As Daniel Ellsberg’s latest leak of classified information revealed, the Eisenhower administration threatened to use nuclear weapons on China in 1958 .

While China’s reform and opening up was seen as beneficial to U.S. economic interests, this didn’t preclude aggression. Who can forget the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the NATO overthrow of the government of Yugoslavia which killed three Chinese journalists in 1999 ? Or the Bush administration’s allowance of a member of the far-right Falun Gong organization to interrupt Hu Jintao on the White House lawn in 2006?  China has not forgotten, and neither should we.

The New Cold War thus stems from historic U.S. hostilities and has grown at a rapid rate since 2011. The pivot to Asia has expanded the reach of the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific to 400 military bases, all of which are meant to threaten China and discourage regional cooperation and solidarity. The U.S. maintains sanctions on major tech corporations, as evidenced by its continued enforcement of the house arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou  and the growing list of blacklisted Chinese companies. Also important are the ongoing diplomatic sanctions on the Communist Party of China established at the tail end of Trump’s administration and the cultural war on U.S.-China cooperation in the fields of higher education and scientific research. 

But we would be remiss not to mention just how central the propaganda war is to the New Cold War. Since the COVID-19 virus was first discovered in Wuhan, all major media outlets in the United States and the West have engaged in a non-stop campaign to blame China for the pandemic. The association of China with COVID-19 was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back in the New Cold War. Coupled with non-stop disinformation and proxy war activities focused on the issues of Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the effect of the propaganda campaign has been to turn the people of the United States and the West against China. Polls over the course of the past year indicate that 80 percent of Americans possess an unfavorable view of China and more than half believes China should pay reparations for COVID-19.

What explains such cognitive dissonance around COVID-19 given that the United States has six hundred times more deaths per million from the pandemic than China? In a word, racism. Racism is an essential component  of the New Cold War on China. Racism allows the unbelievable to be believable, such as the wild claims that China has placed millions of Uyghurs in camps or committed genocide against them. Racism against China has fueled anti-Asian racism  in the U.S. and Western world, leading to brutally violent acts committed regularly against people identified as Chinese in the addled minds of the Western populace. 

China

The United States and its Western allies assumed China would remain subordinate on the world stage in perpetuity. That all signs point to the opposite becoming true has meant that China must be villainized at all costs. Our job as a peace movement is to condemn the U.S.-led New Cold War without hesitation.

Danny Haiphong
Black Agenda Report