The US Mustn’t Turn Its Back on China


Ah, finally, we get it now. The Trump doctrine. Separate China from Russia circa 1972, except this time build bridges with Moscow, call Beijing’s bluff on Taiwan, sit back and wait for China to implode. That beautiful American word, cockamamie, barely does justice to such visionary, strategic thinking. A few small points to consider…The relationship between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin is a great deal closer than that between Leonid Brezhnev and Mao Zedong.

There may come a time when Moscow wakes up to Chinese expansion in its own backyard of central Asia with the Belt and Road Initiative but that is some way in the distance. Right now, both countries are enjoying a convenient infatuation with each other.

Taiwan?  It is difficult to call a bluff when there is no bluff. There is nothing to suggest that China sees Taiwan as anything other than an integral part of its territory.  No art of the deal approach will change that fundamental viewpoint.

The China implode theory? Ah, yes, we have heard this before. The theory goes that with rampant corruption and ever increasing debt, the Chinese economy will slow down to such an extent that outbreaks of social unrest will occur which will spread like wildfire and hey presto, a new China.

First of all, China does have a debt problem, not to overseas creditors but to itself. It is trying to tackle it, has some way to go to get it under control, but it is not, at least not yet, a major issue heralding imminent collapse. From China’s point of view it is the UK and the EU that seem far more likely to collapse than the People’s Republic.

For the first time in 300 years, a generation of Chinese have passed on increasing wealth to another generation who in turn hope to do the same. For all the problems China faces, there is a tangible sense here that life will get better.  It may not be as fast as they want, nor as widespread, but change is in the air. Thirty years ago, they wanted bicycles, now they want cars (preferably German ones). I know Chinese people who as children never thought they would ever ride in a vehicle, not even a bus. Yes, the Chinese would like more democracy but they crave greater justice, healthcare and education and an end to corruption. The Communist Party has no divine right to rule, as atheists they could not believe in a divine right anyway, and they realize it. When Xi came to office he instructed the leading party members to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Old regime and the Revolution, a book that examines French society before the events of 1789.

Nothing is sacred under heaven, the Chinese more than any other people realize that.

There are rust belts in China too. Hundreds of thousands of workers in steel mills and smoke-stack industries have been made redundant this year in Hebei province, next to Beijing, where the rusting hulks of factories dot the landscape. There is still a huge imbalance between the prosperous coastal areas and the inland ones.  More than 7 million graduates will emerge next year from Chinese colleges. Even with a growing economy, finding these graduates jobs is not easy. The country is building the equivalent of a university every week as it tries to create an educated workforce to boost the transformation of the economy from low-skilled production-based to high-skilled services.

Foreign firms still face huge obstacles in China which is not as welcoming to foreign investment as it once was and debt-heavy state-owned companies are still shielded from rivals. Still, foreign direct investment in 2016 up to October grew 4.2 percent ($96.8 billion) compared to 2015. Negotiations over an investment treaty between the US and China, which began in 2008, have yet to be finalized after more than 24 sittings but an agreement does seem possible.

There may be much that has to be improved in the China-US relationship, but it is one worth nurturing.

It may be that we are on the verge of a different era, one more fraught and tense. But there is one beautiful American word to describe the US turning its back on China at this juncture.

More articles by:

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

March 20, 2019
T.J. Coles
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”
W. T. Whitney
Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show
Kenneth Surin
Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist
Howard Lisnoff
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party
Walter Clemens
Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together
George Ochenski
Failing Students on Climate Change
Cesar Chelala
The Sweet Smell of Madeleine
Binoy Kampmark
Global Kids Strike
Nicky Reid
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party
Elliot Sperber
Empedocles and You and Me 
March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”