War with China: A Propaganda Delusion

A dangerous delusion has taken hold in US political and media circles regarding the prospect of a war with China. In order to avoid the calamitous outcome that would ensue from such a war, the public should be aware of the historic and technical facts that argue against such folly. The following discussion will provide this information and explain the perverse incentives motivating US business, political, military, and media elites in their efforts to present China as a hostile power that must be confronted militarily.

Historical Background

China emerged as a powerful modern state after a long period of suffering at the hands of exploitative foreign powers (1840-1945) followed by a bitter civil war (1937-1949), and a major war against the US in Korea (1950-1953). Adding to the challenges of repeated warfare was the internal political turmoil of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward (1958-1962) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Only after the death of Mao in 1976 did China adopt a political system that enabled rapid modernization and economic growth, resulting in China’s emergence as a major world power.

Unlike the United States, which has not experienced the suffering of war on its own soil since 1865, the Chinese have a long history of episodic bloody conflict, external and internal, covering the last century, including border wars with Russia, India, and Vietnam. China is not a nation that backs down from war if its vital interests are threatened.

The large and rapidly growing Chinese economy, which is on course to surpass the GDP of the United States within the next 10 years, has enabled China to modernize its armed forces. China has a small but potent nuclear deterrent, a Navy with more ships than the US, and a large, well-equipped standing army double the size of that of the US. Although the US military has many high-tech advantages, such as stealth technology and naval aviation, the Chinese have developed offsetting advanced weapons systems, such as precision-guided ballistic missiles capable of sinking warships.


Chinese DF-26 “Carrier Killer” missiles – Est. unit Cost: $2 million

China views the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland as the most important unfinished business of the restoration of China to its historic position as the dominant power in Asia. US support of Taiwan, the break-away state established by the defeated faction in the Chinese Civil war, is a major point of contention between the two nations, and a possible cause of armed conflict. The other likely cause of conflict is territorial claims over the waters of the South China Sea, an area encompassing strategic waterways and rich with natural resources. Forcible attempts by the US to block Chinese unification with Taiwan or occupy islands claimed by China in the South China Sea would likely trigger a war. What would this war look like?

The Realities of War with China

Americans have grown accustomed to swift initial victory in warfare against weak adversaries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but the US has not fought a war with a peer power armed with equivalent weaponry since 1945. Thus, the US risks encountering serious unfavorable technical and operational surprises should it undertake a war with China. Although military planners make estimates of adversary capabilities in simulations and exercises, the test of combat is the final determinant of outcomes. No one in the US military knows if the Chinese missiles designed to sink US aircraft carriers can do so in a shooting war, and no one knows if the complex logistics infrastructure required by US high-tech weapons deployed in the Western Pacific can survive in a high-tempo combat environment. Why, then would US leaders contemplate such a war?


USS Nimitz Aircraft Carrier – Est. cost: $13 Billion

There have been many historical instances of outdated military thinking leading to catastrophe. Perhaps the most terrible is that of WWI, a conflict that resulted in far more carnage than political and military leaders expected. On the eve of WWI, there was enthusiasm on all sides for what was expected to be a short and decisive war. The opposing generals has clever plans for swiftly defeating their adversaries. What they failed to understand was the radical transformation of the battlefield that advances in antipersonnel weaponry would cause. The devastating effects of massed artillery and machine gun fire would result in infantry casualties in the millions and a bloody, exhausting war of attrition that left deep scars in European politics and created the conditions for WWII.

What is known about a potential war with China is that the logistical constraints imposed by geography overwhelmingly favor the Chinese in a war fought off their coast against an adversary from other side of the Pacific. In such a war, the US would be heavily reliant on a small number of Western Pacific bases such as Guam and Okinawa. These bases are likely to be attacked and destroyed in the early days of hostilities, leaving US naval forces stranded with uncertain prospects of support from nervous Asian allies. Long-range stealth bombers flying from the US could inflict some damage on China, but the sortie rate (the number of strike missions flown) would be too low to be decisive.

The Chinese, on the other hand, could swarm Taiwan and the South China Sea with naval and aviation assets, absorbing heavy losses and still sweep US forces out of the theater. At that point, escalation to a nuclear exchange would be the only remaining military option for the US, but the relatively small Chinese nuclear force would still be capable of destroying dozens of US cities, an unacceptable outcome for any sane US President.

The general public is poorly informed regarding the characteristics of modern missile warfare. Despite decades of costly efforts to develop missile interceptors, the US has not been able to overcome the basic problem of missile defense. The defender must protect all vulnerable assets with costly systems that can intercept a high percentage of incoming missiles, but the attacker can make concentrated attacks selectively, using surprise, decoys, and overwhelming numbers, to score precise hits that damage or destroy targets. (This imbalance was demonstrated recently in successful missile attacks on Saudi petroleum facilities and US airbases in Iraq.) The US simply lacks the resources to put an impenetrable missile defense umbrella over every vulnerable ship, airbase, and supply depot in the Western Pacific, and the Chinese have a lot of missiles to throw against these targets.

The damage to the US from defeat in a war with China would be far-reaching. Apart from the military casualties and material losses, the economic impact of disrupting trade and communications in Asia would be enormous, probably triggering a global recession. The diplomatic impact would likely be the destruction of long-standing US alliances with other Asian powers, including India, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philipines, and the Southeast Asian nations

The US Military has conducted many simulations of an armed conflict with China involving Taiwan and the South China Sea, and China wins (at a heavy cost) in most of these exercises, mainly because of geographical and logistical advantages. If war with China is a losing proposition from an analytical perspective, what sustains the delusion?

Cui Bono

The Latin expression “Cui Bono” (To whom is it a benefit?) is the name of a method that has been used since ancient times to analyze motives behind political actions. Consider who benefits from sustaining the propaganda delusion of war with China:

Defense Contractors benefit from the incessant arms purchases associated with preparations for war. Because the Chinese can afford to steadily modernize their armed forces, the US defense industry can successfully market new weapons to counter actual and perceived advantages in Chinese weaponry. The US defense industry has enormous political influence because of large campaign donations and support for institutions and academics promoting bellicose foreign policies.

Military Professionals benefit from improved opportunities for command and promotion in growing organizations, such as the newly established Space Force. More surface ships and aircraft squadrons require more officers and commanders. New high-tech weapons projects require military managers who can look forward to high-salaried jobs with defense contractors after taking early retirement.

Politicians benefit from Xenophobia and war fever, particularly if there is a racist component involved. In WWII, the US had no compunction in putting Japanese Americans into internment camps, while German Americans were left unmolested. By depicting the Chinese as totalitarian Communists bent on world domination, politicians can easily whip up war fever among a large segment of the electorate. President Trump has already begun building up anti-Chinese sentiment by referring to COVID-19 as the “China Virus.”

Media Corporations benefit by generating Internet clicks and TV ratings from an audience excited by wars and rumors of wars. Danger and violence sell, and tensions threatening a major war are a sure winner for elevating viewership. The concentration of US media power in a handful of major corporations makes it easier for governments and arms makers to influence “news” coverage in a bellicose manner. Government-friendly US media companies now routinely employ ex-military and former intelligence agency personnel as commentators on foreign affairs, thus strengthening what is effectively a pro-war propaganda collaboration with the national security establishment.

The above players are engaged in an alliance of convenience to promote a war that cannot be waged successfully. Nevertheless, by keeping the danger of this delusional war before the public, they succeed in selling costly weapons, advancing military careers, winning elections, and earning media profits.

Conclusion

The rational arguments against the US engaging in a war with China are overwhelming, and it is only the power of the US political/media propaganda apparatus that has given this idea public credibility. Perverse incentives motivate arms makers, politicians, the military, and media leaders to sustain this delusion and run the risk of the accidental or intentional outbreak of a war which would have ruinous consequences for the US. Citizens should act to persuade their leaders to stop the drum beat of war before a propaganda delusion turns into a military disaster.

Haig Hovaness
GPAX Secretary
September 3, 2020

HONG KONG IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF GLOBAL POWER AND IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLES

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

| , NEWSLETTER

Above photo: Anti-government protesters wave the American flag during a rally in Hong Kong earlier this month © Chan Long Hei/EPA-EFE/Shutterstoc

Hong Kong is one of the most extreme examples of big finance, neoliberal capitalism in the world. As a result, many people in Hong Kong are suffering from great economic insecurity in a city with 93 billionaires, second-most of any city.

Hong Kong is suffering the effects of being colonized by Britain for more than 150 years following the Opium Wars. The British put in place a capitalist economic system and Hong Kong has had no history of self-rule. When Britain left, it negotiated an agreement that prevents China from changing Hong Kong’s political and economic systems for 50 years by making Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region (SAR).

China cannot solve the suffering of the people of Hong Kong. This ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach means the extreme capitalism of Hong Kong exists alongside, but separate from, China’s socialized system. Hong Kong has an unusual political system. For example, half the seats in the legislature are required to represent business interests meaning corporate interests vote on legislation.

Hong Kong is a center for big finance and also a center of financial crimes. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of suspicious transactions reported to law enforcement agencies rocketed from 32,907 to 92,115. There has been a small number of prosecutions, which dropped from a high of 167 in 2014 to 103 in 2017. Convictions dropped to only one person sentenced to more than six years behind bars in 2017.

The problem is neither the extradition bill that was used to ignite protests nor China, the problems are Hong Kong’s economy and governance.

April, 2019. Demonstrators marched over the weekend to demand authorities to scrap the extradition bill [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The Extradition Bill

The stated cause of the recent protests is an extradition bill proposed because there is no legal way to prevent criminals from escaping charges when they flee to Hong Kong. The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to establish a mechanism to transfer fugitives in Hong Kong to Taiwan, Macau or Mainland China.

Extradition laws are a legal norm between countries and within countries (e.g. between states), and since Hong Kong is part of China, it is pretty basic. In fact, in 1998, a pro-democracy legislator, Martin Lee, proposed a law similar to the one he now opposes to ensure a person is prosecuted and tried at the place of the offense.

The push for the bill came in 2018 when a Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taiwan, then returned to Hong Kong. Chan admitted he killed Poon to Hong Kong police, but the police were unable to charge him for murder or extradite him to Taiwan because no agreement was in place.

The proposed law covered  46 types of crimes that are recognized as serious offenses across the globe. These include murder, rape, and sexual offenses, assaults, kidnapping, immigration violations, and drug offenses as well as property offenses like robbery, burglary and arson and other traditional criminal offenses. It also included business and financial crimes.

Months before the street protests, the business community expressed opposition to the law. Hong Kong’s two pro-business parties urged the government to exempt white-collar crimes from the list of offenses covered by any future extradition agreement. There was escalating pressure from the city’s business heavyweights.  The American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham, a fifty-year-old organization that represents over 1,200 US companies doing business in Hong Kong, opposed the proposal.

AmCham said it would damage the city’s reputation: “Any change in extradition arrangements that substantially expands the possibility of arrest and rendition … of international business executives residing in or transiting through Hong Kong as a result of allegations of economic crime made by the mainland government … would undermine perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe and secure haven for international business operations.”

Kurt Tong, the top US diplomat in Hong Kong, said in March that the proposal could complicate relations between Washington and Hong Kong. Indeed, the Center for International Private Enterprise, an arm of NED said the proposed law would undermine economic freedom, cause capital flight and threaten Hong Kong’s status as a hub for global commerce. They pointed to a bipartisan letter signed by eight members of Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and Steve Daines and Members of the House of Representatives, Jim McGovern, Ben McAdams, Chris Smith, Tom Suozzi, and Brian Mast opposing the bill.

Proponents of the bill responded by exempting nine of the economic crimes and made extradition only for crimes punishable by at least seven years in prison. These changes did not satisfy big business advocates.

Protesters hold a placard featuring U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. flags as they take part in a march at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, July 21, 2019. | Vincent Yu / AP

The Mass Protests and US Role 

From this attention to the law, opposition grew with the formation of a coalition to organize protests. As Alexander Rubinstein reports, “the coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM [Human Rights Monitor], Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.” HKHRM alone received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED between 1995 and 2013. Major protests began in June.

Building the anti-China movement in Hong Kong has been a long-term, NED project since 1996. In 2012, NED invested $460,000 through its National Democratic Institute, to build the anti-China movement (aka pro-democracy movement), particularly among university students. Two years later, the mass protests of Occupy Central occurred. In a 2016 Open Letter to Kurt Tong, these NED grants and others were pointed out and Tong was asked if the US was funding a Hong Kong independence movement.

During the current protests, organizers were photographed meeting with Julie Eadeh, the political unit chief of US Consulate General, in a Hong Kong hotel. They also met with China Hawks in Washington, DC including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Larry Diamond, a co-editor of the NED’s publication and a co-chair of research, has been openly encouraging the protesters. He delivered a video message of support during their rally this weekend.

Protests have included many elements of US color revolutions with tactics such as violence — attacks on bystanders, media, police and emergency personnel. Similar tactics were used in UkraineNicaragua, and Venezuela, e.g. violent street barricades. US officials and media criticized the government’s response to the violent protests, even though they have been silent on the extreme police violence against the Yellow Vests in France. Demonstrators also use swarming techniques and sophisticated social media messaging targeting people in the US.

Mass protests have continued. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam pronounced the bill dead and suspended it. Protesters are now calling for the bill to be withdrawn, Lam to resign and police to be investigated. For more on the protests and US involvement, listen to our interview with K. J. Noh on Clearing the FOG (available on Monday).

Makeshift shelters at Tung Chau Street Temporary Market in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Nora Tam

What Is Driving Discontent in Hong Kong?

The source of unrest in Hong Kong is the economic insecurity stemming from capitalism. In 1997, Britain and China agreed to leave “the previous capitalist system” in place for 50 years.

Hong Kong has been ranked as the world’s freest economy in the Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom since 1995 when the index began. In 1990, Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as the best example of a free-market economy. Its ranking is based on low taxes, light regulations, strong property rights, business freedom, and openness to global commerce.

Graeme Maxton writes in the South China Morning Post: “The only way to restore order is through a radical change in Hong Kong’s economic policies. After decades of doing almost nothing, and letting the free market rule, it is time for the Hong Kong government to do what it is there for; to govern in the interests of the majority.”

The issue is not the extradition proposal, Carrie Lam or China. What we are witnessing is an unrestricted neo-liberal economy, described as a free market on steroids. Hong Kong’s economy relative to China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from a peak of 27 percent in 1993 to less than 3 percent in 2017. During this time, China has had tremendous growth, including in nearby market-friendly Shenzen, while Hong Kong has not.

As Sara Flounders writes, “For the last 10 years wages have been stagnant in Hong Kong while rents have increased 300 percent; it is the most expensive city in the world. In Shenzhen, wages have increased 8 percent every year, and more than 1 million new, public, green housing units at low rates are nearing completion.”

Hong Kong has the world’s highest rents, a widening wealth gap and a poverty rate of 20 percent. In China, the poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank.

China’s middle class. Alamy.

Hong Kong In The Chinese Context

Ellen Brown writes in “Neoliberalism Has Met Its Match in China,” that the Chinese government owns 80 percent of banks, which make favorable loans to businesses, and subsidizes worker costs. The US views China subsidizing its economy as an unfair trade advantage, while China sees long-term, planned growth as smarter than short-term profits for shareholders.

The Chinese model of state-controlled capitalism (some call it a form of socialism) has lifted 800 million people out of poverty and built a middle class of over 420 million people, growing from four percent in 2002, to 31 percent. The top twelve Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 are all state-owned and state-subsidized including oil, solar energy, telecommunications, engineering, construction companies, banks, and the auto industry. China has the second-largest GDP, and the largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity GDP, according to the CIAIMF and World Bank.

China does have significant problems. There are thousands of documented demonstrations, strikes and labor actions in China annually, serious environmental challenges, inequality and social control through the use of surveillance technology. How China responds to these challenges is a test for their governance.

China describes itself as having an intra party democracy. The eight other legal “democratic parties” that are allowed to participate in the political system cooperate with but do not compete with the Communist Party. There are also local elections for candidates focused on grassroots issues. China views western democracy and economics as flawed and does not try to emulate them but is creating its own system.

China is led by engineers and scientists, not by lawyers and business people. It approaches policy decisions through research and experimentation. Every city and every district is involved in some sort of experimentation including free trade zones, poverty reduction, and education reform. “There are pilot schools, pilot cities, pilot hospitals, pilot markets, pilot everything under the sun, the whole China is basically a giant portfolio of experiments, with mayors and provincial governors as Primary Investigators.” In this system, Hong Kong could be viewed as an experiment in neoliberal capitalism.

The Communist Party knows that to keep its hold on power, it must combat inequalities and shift the economy towards a more efficient and more ecological model. Beijing has set a date of 2050 to become a “socialist society” and to achieve that, it seeks improvements in sociallabor and environmental fields.

Where does Hong Kong fit into these long-term plans? With 2047 as the year for the end of the agreement with the UK, US and western powers are working toward preserving their capitalist dystopia of Hong Kong and manufacturing consensus for long-term conflict with China.

How this conflict of economic and political systems turns out depends on whether China can confront its contradictions, whether Hong Kongers can address the source of their problems and whether US empire can continue its dollar, political and military dominance. Today’s conflicts in Hong Kong are rooted in all of these realities.

Original article: https://popularresistance.org/hong-kong-in-the-crosshairs-of-global-power-and-ideological-struggles/

 

China signals reconciliation with Japan at massacre memorial

From Jason Berteotti on Facebook:
“There is a lot of tension in this region, but the desire for peace seems greater than the hatred stemming from the past.”

Written by,
Eric Baculinao and Greg Yu and Mia Li and Reuters Dec . 17, 2017

Original Article:
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/china-signals-reconciliation-with-japan-at-massacre-memorial/ar-BBGSkL8?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Image: Nanjing MemorialPeople participate in a ceremony at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall on the second annual national day of remembrance to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the massacre in Nanjing on Dec. 13, 2017.
Image: Nanjing Memorial People participate in a ceremony at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall on the second annual national day of remembrance to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the massacre in Nanjing on Dec. 13, 2017.