THE SO CALLED "CHINA THREAT"
Updated: Nov 6
China is NOT a Threat – Here is Why
The “China threat” has become entrenched in the West. However, China is not a threat - unless the West makes it one. Today, Sinophobia is the only thing that unites the warring Democrat and Republican Parties in the USA. Confronting this “common enemy” drives Americans to “rally around the Flag”.
What really concerns President Biden is that China might become the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. Former President Trump began the demonisation of China but when Biden came along, he doubled down on economic sanctions against China and announced he would not allow China’s economy to overtake America. Biden has turned this into a military containment policy.
In a recent in-depth analysis, Percy Allan presents substantial reasons why China is not a threat. He argues convincingly that China has no imperial legacy, no territorial ambitions, and it does not export its ideology. China’s focus is driven above all by its economic concerns. Its military is built for defence, but not for the purpose of threatening others. China has (and continues to build) a navy large enough to protect its international shipping from disruption but it is not looking for war. The strongest statement by Chinese Pres Xi Jinping is that “Western countries led by the US have implemented comprehensive containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development”. That is a serious complaint but it is hardly a call to war.
Apart from settling and securing its borders of which there are many, China makes no claims on other nations, but what China’s leadership wants is “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation”. Its vision today is one of “Shared Prosperity”. China has not occupied a foreign nation at any time in its modern history and it remains focused on its economy, not military plans. By contrast, America’s quest to spread “freedom and liberty” has seen it blunder into foreign wars, one after another, most of which it has lost.
The Chinese Economy
The Covid-19 pandemic did interrupt the strong growth of the Chinese economy but China is today taking major steps to compensate for that disruption and is moving from being labour and capital intensive to being high-tech and self-sufficient. Many in the West suggest that China has hit hard times which are bound to become worse and Joe Biden has called the China economy a “ticking time bomb”. However, not everyone sees it that way and there are plausible arguments that China will again defy expectations and continue to grow healthily even if not at its previously astonishing rate.
It is worth remembering that what China has accomplished in recent years is the greatest economic miracle humanity has ever seen and predictions that China’s economy will eclipse America’s around 2030 are not unrealistic, despite the wishful thinking of gleeful prophets of doom.
Beijing’s 2023 military budget was US$260 billion compared with US spending of US$860 billion, more than three times China’s expenditure. In 2022, China’s military spend amounted to 1.6% of its GDP compared to 3.5% in the case of the USA. China would be foolish to start a war with the USA and if it was planning to do so it would be increasing its military spending by much more. Instead its focus is on the defence of its borders and its seaborne trade.
If proof was needed of the folly of US sanctions on China, it is Huawei and the runaway success of its Mate 600 Pro-smartphone, unveiled in September 2023. Huawei has been central to America’s efforts to undermine Chinese tech development, but Huawei has proved to be a study of Beijing’s ability to get around US trade curbs. American sanctions have reminded China that self-sufficiency is its only long-term solution. China is steadily overtaking the US in the development of technologies which will dominate the future such as AI, quantum, 5G telecommunications and supercomputers. Remarkably, Huawei is now moving ahead into the 5.5G era, a marked advance over current 5G.
The Biden Administration has increased pressure on China by banning the export of chips and semiconductor equipment to China, but these measures have been taken without factoring in China’s capacity to retaliate. China controls 95% of the world’s supply of rare earth metals and has a near monopoly in the processing of many critical metals including magnesium, tungsten, silicon, zinc, and more. China also dominates the processing of materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper which are essential to most of America’s current and future technology aspirations
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
China recently celebrated the 10th anniversary since the launch of its BRI. It attracted dozens of world leaders, predominantly from the Global South.
Some 150 countries have signed BRI memoranda of understanding and there is no doubt that the BRI has brought clear benefits for China and those countries in which it has invested in infrastructure projects. This includes roads, bridges, ports, and power plants, bringing new economic opportunities and helping to boost trade and economic growth in many developing countries. BRI activity has surpassed US$1 trillion since 2013. Today, China is the partner of choice for Third World countries. By contrast, America offers military pacts to confront China while it sinks deeper into debt.
The US-led West has tried to respond to the BRI with talk about similar plans, such as the Build Back Better World program in 2021 but compared to the BRI these Western projects sound more like “All talk but little action”. Recently, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Zambia. The chairwoman of the Zambian Socialist Party observed that, “The second-in-command of the United States journeyed to Zambia and arrived at an airport constructed by China, travelled on a road also built by China, and addressed the Zambian population in a facility gifted to them by China. However, the US VP Harris advised the Zambian’s to not collaborate with China”!
China’s long-standing policy is for Taiwan to again become part of China and it seeks to achieve this by peaceful means even though it does not rule out the possibility of using force. To avoid provoking such a conflict, America should abide by its own “One China Policy”. California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newson, 56, travelled to China in October where he met personally with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He expressed support for the One-China policy as well as the desire not to see Taiwan’s independence.
According to Australia’s Defence Minister Marles, the consequences of US-China conflict over Taiwan are so grave that Australia cannot be a passive bystander and according to the former Defence Minister, Dutton it was “Inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the US if the US chose to take action”. Marles is effectively saying “me too”.
The Albanese government has declared that China’s rise confronts Australia with the most difficult strategic circumstances since it fought Japan in World War II. War first came to Australia’s shores in 1942 when 188 Japanese aircraft appeared over the centre of Darwin, nearly flattening the town and killing at least 230 people. That was 81 years ago.
Imagine the consequences of Chinese aircraft appearing over Darwin today to defend against attacks from the US/Australia alliance. Darwin is already home to key military bases which would be crucial in any clash with China. The US operates all year round at Australia’s Pine Gap base near Alice Springs and since 2011 has been sending annual rotations of US Marines to the Northern Territory. At the Tindal airbase, there are storage hangars for nuclear-capable bombers and plans for a huge ammunition bunker. The Australian government is today planning to move hundreds more troops to Darwin and other northern cities.
The 2021 AUKUS agreement involving Australia, the UK and the US is seen as a major component of any US-led pushback against China, but the good news is that AUKUS could be in danger of stalling! A significant group of US legislators are wary of the plan to sell nuclear powered submarines to Australia fearing that the US cannot build enough to meet its own needs (bearing in mind its commitments to Ukraine, and now also Israel). The debate within Australia’s Labor Party has also increased concerns about AUKUS although Albanese has reassured his Party members that AUKUS will deliver tens of thousands of jobs for Australians. That assurance badly and perhaps deliberately misses the point. The primary purpose of AUKUS is to support America in the event of a clash with China – not to create jobs!
Meanwhile, China is building its new Type 096 nuclear submarines (SSBN) as an answer to the AUKUS alliance. It is expected to have eight operational SSBNs by 2030. It will have a new undersea capability which will have profound implications for the US and its Indo-Pacific allies, but only if China is forced into war.
Conclusion - War and Peace
The Art of War was written some 2,500 years ago, by Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu where he described the supreme art of war as subduing the enemy without fighting. When President Trump told Jimmy Carter (then aged 94) that he worried about China’s growing economy and expressed concern that “China is getting ahead of us”, Carter responded that much of China’s success was due to its peaceful foreign policy, reminding Trump that China had not been at war since 1979 (a three week war with Vietnam) whereas the USA had remained at war ever since. Carter added that the US had been at war for 226 of its 242 years as a nation.
The “China Threat” is a myth!
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