“Don’t treat China as an enemy. Otherwise you end up with an enemy in China.”
Those are the words of former Chinese diplomat Jia Xiudong. And they reflect the thinking in the Chinese government, as best we can tell. They don’t appreciate Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, a bellicose posture involving surging American militarism in the region and antagonizing Beijing in the hopes that US hegemony will be maintained.
China already feels squeezed by American militarism in its backyard. But it’s set to get much worse: a video report from former CNN journalist Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow at the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California, reveals that the Navy will aim to have “60 percent of its assets” in the Pacific Ocean.
“It will involve deploying six aircraft carriers, destroyers, littoral combat ships, submarines, and an increase in military exercises and port visits,” Chinoy says. This is not to mention putting additional American troops in countries like the Philippines and Australia and building new military bases at strategic points surrounding China.
Does this military surge have anything at all to do with defending the United States from attack, or any conceivable imminent threat for that matter? No, of course not. This is empire building of the first order. China’s rise threatens not the security of Americans, but the hegemony of Washington. China’s mere existence as anything other than a vassal state is the major transgression.
Here’s one attempt by an establishmentarian trying to describe the bellicose posture towards China in a polite, vacant way that avoids the unseemly geo-politics really at hand:
“The fundamental reality is we’re the two largest economies in the world for decades to come,” said Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution. “We had better figure out how to make this work between the two of us.”
Only someone embedded in the state apparatus could possibly describe it this way: the economic rise of the American people and the Chinese people, otherwise recognizable as a positive, enriching experience, somehow requires the governments of both countries to butt heads. But in fact it’s true: market interactions where states are involved always entail coercion and hostility.
If the Chinese and American people were left to simply trade on their own, you can bet things would proceed peacefully – as they have throughout the past two decades as both economies became progressively more intertwined. For people, markets are mutually beneficial. All sides win. For states, markets are zero-sum. Peaceful, mutually beneficial interactions get turned into a casus belli.