LM Comment
  10:35 am GMT
Current Archive Subscribe
Comment LM Search Archives Subject index Links Overview FAQ Toolbar
13 March 1996

US Warships out of East Asia!

1. The Chinese navy manoeuvres in the Taiwan Strait are a defensive response to American intervention in the region, not an example of Chinese warmongering.

All independent nations conduct military manoeuvres and the Chinese navy's actions in the Taiwan strait are by no means exceptional - except to those Western leaders who think that China ought not to have an independent military capability. Far from seeking conflict with Taiwan the Chinese government had been seeking an accommodation with the Taiwanese leadership, culminating in the January 1995 talks with the Taiwan Straits Foundation.
Only the United States' willingness to support Taiwan's application for United Nations membership as 'the Republic of China on Taiwan' - a challenge to mainland China's legitimacy - and to resume the sale of F16 fighters to Taiwan makes the current situation exceptional.

2. Taiwan is not an independent country, but a part of China that survives only because of US patronage.

Historically Taiwan was never an independent nation but a part of China. The current political division is an outcome of the victory of the Maoist revolution in 1949 and the defeat of the more moderate nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek, whose supporters created the Taiwanese statelet in a former Japanese colony.
Taiwan has survived only through the sponsorship of the United States. Until the rapprochement between Mao and Nixon in the seventies, the US recognised the Taiwanese as the legitimate government of China, giving them China's seat on the UN security council. Until recently, though, Taiwan was isolated as America mended fences with the Chinese as a way of isolating the Soviet Union.
Now the Americans have once again turned to Taiwan in an attempt to undermine Chinese sovereignty, and to undermine China's attempts to negotiate a settlement with Taiwan's leader Li Teng-Hui.

3. The main tension is not in China's relationship with Taiwan, but with America's relationship with the rapidly developing economies of the region.

American naval power in East Asia outweighs that of any of the indigenous countries, China included (see Walden Bello People and Power in the Pacific, Pluto Press). The justification for the preponderance of American fire power has been that it is necessary to contain communism. In fact the Cold War policies pursued by America in East Asia were largely designed to contain the regions' emerging capitalist nations, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. Since the Chinese government has opened up to the market, it too has become a serious challenger to the economic dominance of the United States.
The more that the East Asian countries try to plough their own furrow, free from American guidance, the more the US plays up the conflict with China. Provoking a conflict with China is one way of maintaining an American presence in the region.

4. The United State's aggressive stance is given added impetus by the looming American election.

American presidents have shown a marked propensity to provoke military conflicts when elections are on the way. George Bush invaded Iraq and Somalia in the run up to the 1992 elections. Bill Clinton escalated the conflict in the former Yugoslavia by lifting the arms embargo and then bombing Serb positions during the congressional elections in November 1995. Now he is sabre- rattling in the South China Sea as part of his campaign for the 1996 election in November.
Western leaders can do precious little to shore up their legitimacy on the domestic stage, and so prefer to act tough in the international arena when they want to be seen to be doing something. Clinton's latest tough stance is an example of the tendency to try to resolve problems of domestic legitimacy through militarism abroad.

5. Western governments have made a succession of attempts to criminalise the Chinese government from the United Nations Women's Conference in Beijing last year to the furore over 'the Dying Rooms'.

Western leaders have taken every opportunity to criminalise the Chinese regime since the end of the Cold War in Europe. Allegations of human rights abuses and nuclear brinkmanship have been used to attack China. As the West's last superpowered opponent, China has been the focus of Western insecurities ever since the Eastern Bloc collapsed - though, pointedly, China's vast market has tempted the US to set aside ideological considerations and grant China the trading status of a 'most favoured nation'.
Last year's United Nations conference on Women in Beijing turned into an anti-Chinese hate festival. Western feminists, led by the president's wife Hillary Clinton, sought to portray China as a chauvinistic society that encouraged the slaughter of chinese girl-children in the name of the one-child policy. Since then the Channel Four documentaries 'The Dying Rooms' and 'Return to the Dying Rooms' have alleged official complicity in the killing of girl-children in state orphanages. (See China on Trial
in the March issue of Living Marxism).
The various attempts to vilify the Chinese regime are designed to make Western values look civilised in comparison to the alleged depravity of the Chinese. These campaigns also have the effect of preparing public opinion in the West and international opinion for military intervention. Once the Chinese are dehumanised, military action seems acceptable.

6. US warships out of East Asia!

The United States has no legitimate interest in East Asia and its actions are bound to aggravate tensions in the area. It is Western imperialism that has militarised East Asia and that continues to provoke conflict there. The best way to ensure peace in the region is to get the US navy out of the China Seas.

James Heartfield

A reply by John Reynolds
Join a discussion on this commentary



Mail: webmaster@mail.informinc.co.uk