The US and China: Putting the "Con" in "Conflict"

11/02/20150 Comments

With reports emerging that China has signed on to Russia’s military coalition in Syria, at the same time that the Chinese are signing new cooperation agreements with the U.S., the question is once again being raised. What is the nature of China/U.S. rivalry? Today on the GRTV Feature Interview, Michel Chossudovsky talks about the forces in both countries that are manipulating this conflict and what it means for the prospects of future war.

TRANSCRIPT

Even the most casual observers of the news will have noticed the increasingly bellicose military rhetoric and provocations emerging from both China and the U.S. over control of the Asia-Pacific.

CLIP: “China’s Defense Ministry Spokesman Yung Yujun, said today that some countries were ‘making tensions in the Asia-Pacific worse.’”

CLIP: “The United States confirmed that it flew two B-52 bombers over China’s newly established Air Defense Zone as well as the disputed Diaoyu Islands.”

CLIP: “China has sent fighter jets to it’s newly declared air zone in the East China Sea. Beijing says the jets flew into the Air Defense Identification Zone to strengthen monitoring on targets in the area.”

But behind this conflict is another narrative. One of cooperation, agreements, political coordination and business arrangements that have created a close tie between China and the U.S.

CLIP: “A commitment to cooperation. General Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairman of China’s Military Commission and American General Raymond Odierno oversee the signing of an army-to-army agreement on Friday. The deal they say will help improve coordination on a number of issues like humanitarian relief, disaster response and the fight against terrorism.

CLIP: “Military-to-military exchanges between the two sides have seen some progress in the past year as the two sides committed to a new model of military relations.

CLIP: “This is the second time the trilateral exercise has taken place. This year, involving 30 soldiers and marines working closely together in the hot and dry Northern Territory wild. The 30 military personnel include 10 from the Australian Army, 10 from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, 5 from the U.S. Army and 5 from the U.S. Marine Corp.”

What is the truth behind this story of conflict and cooperation? Is this a genuine rivalry, a smoke-screen being used to distract the public or a little bit of both?

Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalisation explains.

MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY: China is in some regards an industrial colony, I use that quote en-quote, but at the same time it is an upcoming power on the global stage. I should mention that that emerged also in the wake of the Cold War, where China’s alignments vis-a-vis the Russian Federation had changed dramatically to what they were during the Cold War era. In the late 90’s particularly in the wake of Deng Shaoping and the change of government in the Russian Federation. In other words when Vladimir Putin became President there we have consolidation of an alliance between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China and the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement and so forth.

Another very important dimension, in the late 90’s ironically just after Deng Shaoping passed there’s an increased confrontation in the Taiwan straits. Of course there was always confrontation in the Taiwan straits but then it was at that point that China developed it’s military cooperation agreements with Russia and started to build-up naval facilities in the South China Sea to counteract U.S. threats and then of course we had a very major shift in geo-political relations. I would say as of the late 90’s early 200’s, early 21st century. Which is increasingly towards confrontation between China and the United States but I should qualify that because when you go to China you have a very pro-American intelligentsia. The people’s in the universities and so on, the School of Journalism at Xinhua University is supported by Bloomberg, people at the Academy of Social Sciences are very much tied into Western values so on and so forth.

So that in fact I would say that the leadership is profoundly and very much divided. America is very much visible. Western capitalism is very visible throughout China but at the same time it’s more at the political and geo-political level that there’s confrontation. And I think that the Chinese say ‘Well we’re a capitalist economy in our own right, we’re not going to be a subordinate colony of the West’, but if you look at the actual mechanics of foreign trade they still are, because they’re producing commodities for the world market and they are sort of feeding the non-productive structures of Western capitalism.

If we go back in history I would say that the West in a sense facilitated regime change in China. There’s no question about. It’s difficult to research but Henry Kissinger in 1972, then the Gang of Four and so on, there was a transition towards reintegration into Western capitalism. That transition was implemented by a dominant clique within the Communist Party.

Now that clique is still there, there’s no question about it but there are other ares of Chinese society which are firmly anti-American and certainly within the military. (Within) the People’s Army the situation is dramatically different and at the same time there’s a rather a destructive shift in U.S. foreign policy. Which is I think really motivated by the realignment of China with Russia under the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement and what they want to do is essentially break that alliance. That alliance is in a sense is quite fragile because the United States and Western countries, let’s say Western capitalism but also Japanese capitalism, are fairly well entrenched into the fabric of the banking system in China.

HILLARY CLINTON: “That the United States in uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the Asia-Pacific because of our history, our capability and our credibility. People look to us as they have for decades. The most common thing that Asian leaders have said to me, in my travels over this last 20 months, is ‘thank you, we’re so glad that you’re playing an active role in Asia again’, because they look to us to create the conditions for broad, sustained economic growth and to ensure security by effectively deploying our military.”

CLIP: “The move to create a permanent U.S. military presence in Australia is a show of solidarity and force. When the President said America now has…

OBAMA: …the presence that necessary to maintain the security architecture in the region.

REPORTER: What he means is an American troop presence in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and soon 2,500 marines and potentially dozens of U.S. Airforce aircraft in Australia, to serve as a counter-weight to China.”

CLIP: OBAMA: “We are here to stay. This is a region of huge strategic importance to us.”

CHOSSUDOVSKY: “Well I think that really if you look at the U.S. standpoint which is one of world-domination. There’s a military agenda, there’s an economic agenda of dominating the world and they’ve succeeded in dominating a large part of the world where they have their own puppet-regimes, proxy-regimes allover. Which essentially obey orders and accept the consensus that the United States and it’s allies are the dominate powers in the world.

Now, the Chinese will not do that. That’s very, very clear. They won’t do that. They’re doing it in the way I’ve described, through joint-ventures and this that and the other but they’re not going to accept a U.S. hegemonic project in Asia and the Far East. People who know Chinese history will realise it’s called the Middle Kingdom, it’s establishes it’s boundaries within certain realms and they will not accept any kind of territorial encroachment.

Now you’re not going to conquer this country in any way and the question I think (is) U.S. policy makers want to subdue China. Perhaps they’re not doing it the right way. They’ll never be able to encroach on their territory the same way encroach on the territory of Iraq or Syria.

Having said that, let’s bear in mind that there are dirty tricks on the part of the U.S. in supporting insurgencies. Of course in Tibet it’s well understood, they’re supporting a separatist insurgency but they’re also supporting insurgencies in the Western provinces (of China) at Xinjiang province and (the) Uyghur autonomous region where you have a large Muslim population and there, what are they doing? They’re supporting Al-Qaeda affiliated organisations which are essentially under the helm of the C.I.A. creating terrorist events.

So, there is that kind of inroad and there has been for a very long time there has been a plan on the drawing board to fragment China. Too cut China into different Republics so-to-speak. Particularly South China, North China, Tibet and the Western provinces. So that option has been there and that option is very similar to what they’ve been trying to do in the Middle East but they’re dealing with a different polity, social reality and a misunderstanding of Chinese history going back to the Ming Dynasty.

So there we are that is the ground work, is that now what is at stake is to essentially curb the Chinese tiger so-to-speak. The Chinese economy has served the Western market economy for the last 30 or more years since the early 80’s and now what Western leaders want to do is to ensure that that tiger does not become and exceed to the status of a global capitalist entity which would challenge the hegemony of the United States and Western Europe. The thing is of course from a military stand point China is a nuclear power, it has a very advanced weapons system and it has been developing that weapons system very carefully together with it’s Russian ally and that I think is another dimension of this discussion and debate. If there is a confrontation with either Russia or China we’re in a very dangerous situation. This could lead to World War.

At this stage with regard to China I don’t think that this is likely to happen it’s much more focussed on Russia at this particular point but the threats directed at China in the South China Sea I think are intended to weaken China’s relationship to Russia but in fact as you pointed out that may in fact do exactly the opposite. It will reinforce the military alliance between Russia and China.”

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