It’s remarkable how much of the propaganda that America creates about China feels like projection. The United States, which frequently censors dissenting voices, persecutes Muslims and other disfavored ethnic groups, is controlled by an oligarchic corporate regime that keeps half of its own people in poverty, and perpetuates the largest empire in history, is accusing China of all the atrocities that it’s committed itself.
This “accuse your enemy of that which you are guilty” strategy is useful for America’s goal with China, which is to destroy a power that’s threatening to ruin its quest for imperial hegemony. Communist China has been an obstacle to the American empire right from the start, with China having fought on the side of the DPRK amid America’s genocidal invasion of Korea. It’s now continuing its role as a bulwark against imperialism by working to protect Venezuela from a potential invasion, by backing Syria in its fight against U.S.-backed terrorists, and by remaining loyal to north Korea as the capitalist world wages war against the DPRK. So as China continues to move towards becoming the world’s dominant economic and military power, America has every reason to sabotage China.
The propaganda aspect of this sabotage effort, ironically, depends on painting China as the exact kind of imperialist menace that the U.S. is. I debunked many of the lies that make up this false image of China in one of my articles from last month, but that essay requires a second volume. Here I’ll cover the fraudulence of the major concepts about China that are instilled into Westerners.
by Rainer Shea
Big lie #1: “China is imperialist”
Once again, the irony of America’s propaganda about China is absurd. The U.S. constantly wages wars of imperialist aggression under the false pretense of “liberating” its victim nations, and when China actually intervenes in another country in order to free it, the U.S. characterizes China’s actions as “imperialist.”
China’s 1951 intervention in Tibet wasn’t just supported by a wide range of Tibetans and motivated by a desire to free the country from the horrors of its former feudal system. It was followed by a series of U.S. actions in Tibet that were truly imperialist and unjustifiable. In response to the revolution that China brought to Tibet, the CIA began a campaign of agitation, funding and arms for the anti-Chinese Tibetan factions, and dirty political tricks which led to a U.S.-manufactured 1959 uprising within Tibet against the country’s new government. This uprising failed to gain popular support, especially among those who had been abused under the feudal order.
To justify this sabotage of the Tibetan liberation struggle that Mao helped lead, the U.S. and its sepatatist partners within Tibet have tried to paint China as the villain. But as is explained in this assessment from East Asia Forum’s Barry Sautman, neither the claims of Chinese imperialism nor the ones of unjustified Chinese social repression in Tibet have merit:
The point to stress is that there is no repression of Tibetans simply for being Tibetan. Nor does the Chinese government repress religion per se. Instead, Tibetans receive a range of preferential policies, and authorised religions in China receive state support. Where religious organisations pose no political threat, they are regulated by the state and can generally function openly, especially among ethnic minorities. The relation between religious organisations and the state is informed by longstanding Chinese traditions; separatism is another story. Under international law, states may make separatism illegal. The Chinese government, based on China’s history of cycles of territorial unity and disunity, makes use of that right.
The U.S. has used the charge of imperialism to delegitimize essentially all of China’s additional projects to involve itself abroad. This is particularly true when it comes to China’s role in Africa, which has been distorted by numerous myths. One of these myths is that China has followed the “neo-colonial” patterns in Africa, which is refuted by an honest examination of what China has been doing; unlike is the case for a neo-colonialist project, wherein a country is put under the authority of another nation and/or has had its economic autonomy taken away from it, there’s not one African country that’s politically directed by China, China controls no African banking system, and no African country is obliged to exclude non-Chinese products.
There are many other facets to the myth about Chinese “imperialism” in Africa, from the demonstrably false claim that Chinese enterprises only employ Chinese workers (a survey of 1000 African companies has shown that 89 percent of their employees are African) to the one that China has been engaged in massive land grabs (a Johns Hopkins University study has found that the largest Chinese farms in Africa aren’t even growing food for export to China) to the one about how China is trapping African nations in debt (the debts that African nations owe to China make up less than 2 percent of Africa’s foreign debt, and all indications show that China is giving these nations money so they can make up gaps in their infrastructure financing). And these claims all omit the fact that the U.S. has actually been exploiting countries in such ways.
Americans aren’t supposed to think about how their government invaded Iraq so that it could let American corporations profit from Iraq’s destruction, or how the U.S. has been installing puppet governments into sovereign countries for the last century, or how the U.S. uses the IMF to trap nations into debt so that it can impose destructive neoliberal reforms onto them. Our country’s transgressions need to be projected onto China, whose foreign policy model been misrepresented not just in the case of Africa but in the context of the country’s entire relationship to the world.
The loans that China has given out have in many cases worked towards freeing other countries from Western imperialism; in 2013, China gave Laos the equivalent of $32 million in interest free credits so that Laos could help free itself from the debt slavery that it’s suffered at the hands of the World Bank. This reflects the overall nature of the foreign investments that China makes, which is one of socialist economic development rather than capitalist imperialism. The vast majority of the foreign loans that China makes are socialist state investments rather than private capitalist investments, and they’re done for the purpose of helping improve the livelihoods of both the Chinese people and those in the countries that China works with. China, as well as its ally Russia, have been made out to be menacing pillagers in a world where the U.S./NATO empire is by far the biggest perpetrator of exploitation and violent conquest.