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Yes, It’s Time to Come Home—Now

Actually ending the war in Afghanistan.

by: Andrew Bacevich

As Americans learned in Vietnam, the only way to end a war gone wrong is to leave the field of battle. (Photo: Sergeant Joseph R. Chenelly / United States Marine Corps)

As Americans learned in Vietnam, the only way to end a war gone wrong is to leave the field of battle. (Photo: Sergeant Joseph R. Chenelly / United States Marine Corps)

Let’s open up and sing, and ring the bells out
Ding-dong! the merry-oh sing it high, sing it low
Let them know the wicked witch is dead!

Within establishment circles, Donald Trump’s failure to win re-election has prompted merry singing and bell-ringing galore. If you read the New York Times or watch MSNBC, the song featured in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz nicely captures the mood of the moment.

As a consequence, expectations for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to put America back on the path to the Emerald City after a dispiriting four-year detour are sky-high. The new administration will defeat Covid-19, restore prosperity, vanquish racism, reform education, expand healthcare coverage, tackle climate change, and provide an effective and humane solution to the problem of undocumented migrants. Oh, and Biden will also return the United States to its accustomed position of global leadership. And save America’s soul to boot.

So we are told.

That these expectations are deemed even faintly credible qualifies as passing strange. After all, the outcome of the 2020 presidential election turned less on competing approaches to governance than on the character of the incumbent. It wasn’t Joe Biden as principled standard-bearer of enlightened twenty-first-century liberalism who prevailed. It was Joe Biden, a retread centrist pol who emerged as the last line of defense shielding America and the world from four more years of Donald Trump.

So the balloting definitively resolved only a single question: by 80 million to 74 million votes, a margin of six million, Americans signaled their desire to terminate Trump’s lease on the White House. Yet even if repudiating the president, voters hardly repudiated Trumpism. Republicans actually gained seats in the House of Representatives and appear likely to retain control of the Senate.

On November 3rd, a twofold transfer of power commenced. A rapt public has fixed its attention on the first of those transfers: Biden’s succession to the presidency (and Trump’s desperate resistance to the inevitable outcome). But a second, hardly less important transfer of power is also occurring. Once it became clear that Trump was not going to win a second term, control of the Republican Party began reverting from the president to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The implications of that shift are immense, as Biden, himself a longtime member of the Senate, no doubt appreciates.

Consider this telling anecdote from former President Barack Obama’s just-published memoir. Obama had tasked then-Vice President Biden with cajoling McConnell into supporting a piece of legislation favored by the administration. After Biden made his pitch, the hyper-partisan McConnell dourly replied, “You must be under the mistaken impression that I care.” End of negotiation.

Perhaps the Democrats will miraculously win both Senate seats in Georgia’s January runoff elections and so consign McConnell to the status of minority leader. If they don’t, let us not labor under the mistaken impression that he’ll support Biden’s efforts to defeat Covid-19, restore prosperity, vanquish racism, reform education, expand healthcare coverage, tackle climate change, or provide an effective and humane solution to the problem of undocumented migrants.

It’s a given that McConnell isn’t any more interested in saving souls than he is in passing legislation favored by Democrats. That leaves restoring American global leadership as the sole remaining arena where President Biden might elicit from a McConnell-controlled GOP something other than unremitting obstructionism.

And that, in turn, brings us face to face with the issue Democrats and Republicans alike would prefer to ignore: the U.S. penchant for war. Since the end of the Cold War and especially since the terror attacks of 9/11, successive administrations have relied on armed force to assert, affirm, or at least shore up America’s claim to global leadership. The results have not been pretty. A series of needless and badly mismanaged wars have contributed appreciably—more even than Donald Trump’s zany ineptitude—to the growing perception that the United States is now a declining power. That perception is not without validity. Over the past two decades, wars have depleted America’s strength and undermined its global influence.

So, as the U.S. embarks on the post-Trump era, what are the prospects that a deeply divided government presiding over a deeply divided polity will come to a more reasoned and prudent attitude toward war? A lot hinges on whether Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell can agree on an answer to that question.

An Unexpected Gift for “Sleepy Joe”

As his inevitable exit from the White House approaches, President Trump himself may be forcing the issue.

One of the distinctive attributes of our 45th president is that he never seemed terribly interested in actually tending to the duties of his office. He does not, in fact, possess a work ethic in any traditional sense. He prefers to swagger and strut rather than deliberate and decide. Once it became clear that he wasn’t going to win a second term, he visibly gave up even the pretense of governing. Today, he golfs, tweets, and rails. According to news reports, he no longer even bothers to set aside time for the daily presidential intelligence briefing.

As the clock runs out, however, certain Trumpian impulses remain in play. The war in Afghanistan, now in its 19th year, offers a notable example. In 2001, President George W. Bush ordered U.S. forces to invade the country, but prematurely turned his attention to a bigger and more disastrous misadventure in Iraq. Barack Obama inherited the Afghanistan War, promised to win it, and ordered a large-scale surge in the U.S. troop presence there. Yet the conflict stubbornly dragged on through his two terms. As for candidate Trump, during campaign 2016, he vowed to end it once and for all. In office, however, he never managed to pull the plug—until now, that is.

Soon after losing the election, the president ousted several senior Pentagon civilians, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and replaced them (for a couple of months anyway) with loyalists sharing his oft-stated commitment to “ending endless wars.” Within days of taking office, new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller issued a letter to the troops, signaling his own commitment to that task.

“We are not a people of perpetual war,” he wrote, describing endless war as “the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought.” The time for accepting the inevitable had now arrived. “All wars must end,” he continued, adding that trying harder was not going to produce a better outcome. “We gave it our all,” he concluded. “Now, it’s time to come home.”

Miller avoided using terms like victory or defeat, success or failure, and did not specify an actual timetable for a full-scale withdrawal. Yet Trump had already made his intentions clear: he wanted all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year and preferably by Christmas. Having forgotten or punted on innumerable other promises, Trump appeared determined to make good on this one. It’s likely, in fact, that Miller’s primary—perhaps only—charge during his abbreviated tour of duty as Pentagon chief is to enable Trump to claim success in terminating at least one war.

So during this peculiar betwixt-and-between moment of ours, with one administration packing its bags and the next one trying to get its bearings, a question of immense significance to the future course of American statecraft presents itself: Will the United States at long last ring down the curtain on the most endless of its endless wars? Or, under the guise of seeking a “responsible end,” will it pursue the irresponsible course of prolonging a demonstrably futile enterprise through another presidency?

As Miller will soon discover, if he hasn’t already, his generals don’t concur with the commander-in-chief’s determination to “come home.” Whether in Afghanistan or Somalia, Iraq, Syria, or Europe, they have demonstrated great skill in foiling his occasional gestures aimed at reducing the U.S. military’s overseas profile.

The available evidence suggests that Joe Biden’s views align with those of the generals. True, the conduct and legacy of recent wars played next to no role in deciding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election (suggesting that many Americans have made their peace with endless war). Still, given expectations that anyone aspiring to high office these days must stake out a position on every conceivable issue and promise something for everyone, candidate Biden spelled out his intentions regarding Afghanistan.

Basically, he wants to have it both ways. So he is on record insisting that “these ‘forever wars’ have to end,” while simultaneously proposing to maintain a contingent of American troops in Afghanistan to “take out terrorist groups who are going to continue to emerge.” In other words, Biden proposes to declare that the longest war in U.S. history has ended, while simultaneously underwriting its perpetuation.

Such a prospect will find favor with the generals, members of the foreign policy establishment, and media hawks. Yet hanging on in Afghanistan (or other active theaters of war) will contribute nothing to Biden’s larger promise to “build back better.” Indeed, the staggering expenses that accompany protracted wars will undermine his prospects of making good on his domestic reform agenda. It’s the dilemma that Lyndon Johnson faced in the mid-1960s: You can have your Great Society, Mr. President, or you can have your war in Vietnam, but you can’t have both.

Biden will face an analogous problem. Put simply, his stated position on Afghanistan is at odds with the larger aspirations of his presidency.

At Long Last an Exit Strategy?

As a practical matter, the odds of Trump actually ending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan between now and his departure from office are nil. The logistical challenges are daunting, especially given that the pick-up team now running the Pentagon is made up of something other than all-stars. And the generals will surely drag their feet, while mobilizing allies not just in the punditocracy but in the Republican Party itself.

As a practical matter, Acting Secretary Miller has already bowed to reality. The definition of success now is, it seems, to cut the force there roughly in half, from 4,500 to 2,500, by Inauguration Day, with the remainder of U.S. troops supposedly coming out of Afghanistan by May 2021 (months after both Trump and Miller will be out of a job).

So call it Operation Half a Loaf. But half is better than none. Even if Trump won’t succeed in reducing U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan to zero, I’m rooting for him anyway. As, indeed, Joe Biden should be—because if Trump makes headway in shutting down America’s war there, Biden will be among the principal beneficiaries.

Whatever his actual motives, Trump has cracked open a previously shut door to an exit strategy. Through that door lies the opportunity of turning the page on a disastrous era of American statecraft dominated by a misplaced obsession with events in the Greater Middle East.

Twin convictions shaped basic U.S. policy during this period: the first was that the United States has vital interests at stake in this region, even in utterly remote parts of it like Afghanistan; the second, that the United States can best advance those interests by amassing and employing military power. The first of those convictions turned out to be wildly misplaced, the second tragically wrong-headed. Yet pursuant to those very mistaken beliefs, successive administrations have flung away lives, treasure, and influence with complete abandon. The American people have gained less than nothing in return. In fact, in terms of where taxpayer dollars were invested, they’ve lost their shirts.

Acting Secretary Miller’s charge to the troops plainly acknowledges a bitter truth to which too few members of the Washington establishment have been willing to admit: the time to move on from this misguided project is now. To the extent that Donald Trump’s lame-duck administration begins the process of extricating the United States from Afghanistan, he will demonstrate the feasibility of doing so elsewhere as well. Tired arguments for staying the course could then lose their persuasive power.

Doubtless, after all these disastrous years, there will be negative consequences to leaving Afghanistan. Ill-considered and mismanaged wars inevitably yield poisonous fruit. There will be further bills to pay. Still, ending the U.S. war there will establish a precedent for ending our military involvement in Iraq, Syria, and Somalia as well. Terminating direct U.S. military involvement across the Greater Middle East and much of Africa will create an opportunity to reconfigure U.S. policy in a world that has changed dramatically since the United States recklessly embarked upon its crusade to transform great swathes of the Islamic world.

Biden himself should welcome such an opportunity. Admittedly, Mitch McConnell, no longer fully subservient to President Trump, predicts that withdrawing from Afghanistan will produce an outcome “reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975.” In reality, of course, failure in Vietnam stemmed not from the decision to leave, but from an erroneous conviction that it was incumbent upon Americans to decide the destiny of the Vietnamese people. The big mistake occurred not in 1975 when American troops finally departed, but a decade earlier when President Johnson decided that it was incumbent upon the United States to Americanize the war.

As Americans learned in Vietnam, the only way to end a war gone wrong is to leave the field of battle. If that describes Trump’s intentions in Afghanistan, then we may finally have some reason to be grateful for his service to our nation. With time, Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell might even come to see the wisdom of doing so.

And then, of course, they can bicker about the shortest path to the Emerald City.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

Should We Compete with China? Can We?

The size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world. Lee Kwan Yew.

In 2003 I published a book charting America’s decline in thirty-six social and economic indicators. I mailed copies to the Administration, Congress and department heads and received one reply, from the Director General of the Central Intelligence Agency, saying that the Agency had been providing almost identical information to the government for decades. Since then our decline and China’s rise have both accelerated and momentum has carried us so far so quickly that competition is unrealistic.

• • •

If China resembled the caricature our media has drawn for the last seven decades then yes, we should compete with her repressive, extractive, authoritarianism and invest our bounty in advanced technologies to ensure that we remain the envy of the world.

But what if China is neither repressive, extractive nor authoritarian? What if we have no bounty left to invest? What if Chinese leaders are more popular, respected and competent than ours? What if her economy is thirty percent bigger and growing three times faster, with one-third the debt burden? What if she is already ahead of us scientifically technologically, is militarily impregnable, and possesses more–and more powerful–allies than we do? What should we do then? Here’s an inventory:

Government: Confucius, the supreme political scientist said, “If people have no faith in their rulers then the state cannot exist.” Our trust in government is at its lowest ebb in history. Gallup says most of us rank government as our most pressing problem and just 54 percent of us even ‘consistently express a pro-democratic position.’ China’s system of professional, non-factional government has returned it to its role as the Central Kingdom. Compared to ours, China’s government is forward-looking, decentralized, efficient and thrifty. The Government Entrance Examination selects the top 2% of graduates each year and success is the only avenue to power, responsibility. The 200 members of the State Council–all promoted on their ability to work cooperatively–have collectively governed billions of people for a combined 5,000 years and their publicly available stats are jaw-dropping. Most have a PhD and an IQ over 140. All began their careers in the country’s poorest villages and left only after raising incomes by 50%. They repeated that performance at every level, including the presidency, as Xi is doing.

Leadership. We choose leaders by acclamation–a Greco-Roman custom favoring eloquent rascals–and that is exactly what we have while, as President Trump observed, “China’s leaders are much smarter than ours. It’s like taking the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and having them play your high school football team.”

Economies. Today, China generates 20% of global GDP vs. our 15%, its imports and exports are in balance, its trading relationships are excellent, its currency fairly valued, its economy one third larger and growing three times faster, its manufacturing wages at parity with ours and its plans for 2025 are breathtaking.

Infrastructure: New highways, railways, subways and ports and, next year, the fastest, most advanced Internet and entire cities built around 5G.

Geopolitics. In 2018 China’s 34% world approval rating beat America’s 31% and Gallup says, “As the global balance of soft power continues to shift, it may prove even more difficult for the US to counter this influence.” They are focusing their attention on Eurasia and, Zbigniew Brzezinski[1] warned, “Control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. Seventy-five percent of the world’s people live in Eurasia and most of the world’s physical wealth is there too, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.”

We ceded control of Crimea and the Black Sea to Russia and, increasingly, the Middle East, too. With the Belt and Road, China and Russia are amalgamating The Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Russia with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Moldova in consideration); The Shanghai Cooperative Organization, SCO (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, China, and Pakistan; with Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus as observers and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey as dialog partners); and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, RCEP (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand). Once the Nord Stream II and South Stream pipelines are completed in December, how can the EU resist joining them

Finances. The Financial Times says, “America will need to sell $12 Trillion of bonds in the coming decade..Who on earth–or in global finance–will buy this looming mountain of Treasuries, the US borrowing requirement even before Trump’s major upgrade of America’s weapons systems? ..These borrowing needs [will all] have to be financed in the context of already high global dollar debt exposure. One of America’s biggest hedge funds privately concluded that in five years’ time the Treasury will need to sell bonds equivalent to 25 percent of gross domestic product, up from 15 per cent now. This level of debt has occurred just twice in the past 120 years, first during the second world war and then again during the 2008 financial crisis”. Russia and China have no foreign debt, and China has abundant savings and carries a debt burden one-third America’s or the EU’s.

Science. Their five IQ point advantage over us means that they have 300,000 people with 160 IQ, compared to 30,000 in the West. China has overtaken the US to become the world’s largest producer of scientific research papers, making up almost a fifth of the total global output, according to a major new reportChina dominates a global ranking of the most-cited research papers published in the 30 hottest technology fields. Though the U.S. accounted for 3.9 million research papers overall compared with 2.9 million from China, the Asian country produced the largest share in 23 of the 30 fields that drew the most interest, while America took the crown for the remaining seven.

As we can infer from the chart, the social groups controlling our surplus used it for non-productive, ego-satisfying purposes which distributed the surpluses to consumption but did not provide more effective methods of production. China is the most influential country in four of eight core scientific fields, ranking first in computer science, mathematics, materials science and engineering and is rapidly catching up in physics. The U.S. led in physics, environmental and earth sciences, basic life science and clinical medicine. Twenty years ago Samuel Huntington[2] said, “Civilizations grow because they have an instrument of expansion, a military, religious, political, or economic organization that accumulates surplus and invests it in productive innovations and they decline when they stop the application of surplus to new ways of doing things. In modern terms we say that the rate of investment decreases. This happens because the social groups controlling the surplus have a vested interest in using it for non-productive but ego-satisfying purposes which distribute the surpluses to consumption but do not provide more effective methods of production.”

Technology. Two thirds of the world’s fastest computers are Chinese but nothing reveals the emptiness of our IP closet more than Chinese dominance of enhanced mobile broadband. We will take twice as long and spend twice as much integrating a less affordable, functional, compatible, upgradeable system. Yet our feckless media derided President Trump when he called for America to dominate 6G, despite the publicly known fact that Huawei has had 600 mathematicians, physicists and engineers working on 6G for over a year. China leads the world in most of the top ten ‘hot’ fields like battery research and accounted for more than seventy percent of all papers on photocatalysts and nucleic-acid-targeted cancer treatment, which ranked 12th and 14th. The US led in three biotechnology fields, including #7 genome editing and #10 immunotherapy. China leads the world in basic research and in most technologies, especially hot areas.

China also leads in all fields of civil engineering and of sustainable and renewable energy, in manufacturing, supercomputing, speech recognition, graphenics, thorium power, pebble bed reactors, genomics, thermal power, ASW missiles, drones, in-orbit satellite refueling, passive array radar, metamaterials, hyperspectral imaging, nanotechnology, UHV electricity transmission, HSR, speech recognition, radio-telescopy, hypersonic weapons, satellite quantum communications, quantum secure direct communications and quantum controls. “Approximately 72% of the academic patent families published in QIT since 2012 have been from Chinese universities. US universities are a distant second with 12%.” China will overtake the US in the most-cited 50% of Artificial Intelligence research papers this year, the top 10% of research papers next year, and the top 1% by 2025. Six of the eleven AI unicorns are Chinese. We have no entrants in quantum encryption or face recognition, nor 100 mph maglev subways, nor lossless power transmission.

  • Aerospace: China launched more space missions in 2018 than Russia or America and its first indigenous airliner will take to the air this year, despite FAA foot-dragging. It is the world’s leading provider of UAVs and the largest manufacturer and exporter of light combat aircraft. Now that its WS-15 fighter jet engine is in production, its J-20 will outcarry and outspeed our fighters.
  • Ocean engineering. China is the go-to builder for LNG transporters and naval vessels that require technical expertise (the USN approached it about building a floating dock) It designs, builds and operates the most powerful surface combatants afloat, the Type 55 cruiser, ensuring that its claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea will not be contested.
  • Advanced railway equipment: China leads in all aspects of railway engineering and wins the bulk of global rail contracts. The first of five low speed maglev lines has completed testing and two more will open this year.
  • Energy-saving and new energy vehicles: China leads the world in batteries and electric cars and has more than 20 manufacturers competing to survive.
  • Power equipment: China leads the world in basic research and manufacturing of renewable energy and nuclear energy and installed more renewable and nuclear power last year than the rest of the world combined. It owns the market for long distance UHV transmission.
  • Materials Science. China’s share of the most cited nanoscience papers grows 22% annually and overtook the US in 2014. Its contribution–in quantity and quality–is now greater than the rest of the world’s combined. Most of the world’s graphene is manufactured in China, home to most graphene startups and the country is even with us in nanomaterial development.
  • Biomedicine and high-performance medical devices. Judged by papers in 82 high-quality research journals, China is the second leading contributor to biomedical engineering articles after the US and will overtake us in three years.

TradeMidway in the sixteenth century China became the great repository of the early modern world’s newly discovered wealth in silver. Long a participant in international maritime trade, China experienced the consequences of the greatly enlarged patterns in world trade. In that commerce China was essentially a seller of high-quality craft manufactures. Other countries could not compete either in quality or price. The colonies of the New World and the entire Mediterranean sphere of trade, from Portugal and Spain to the Ottoman Empire, began to complain that the influx of Chinese goods undermined their economies. F.W. Mote, Imperial China 900-1800. China’s most significant trade relationships are with Asia and Europe, with the US third. As Parag Khanna[3] says, Beijing must wonder why #3 would launch a trade war against #1. Though we are self-sufficient in many things,we may be more dispensable than we imagine. ‘America first’ sounds great except when it actually means ‘America alone’.

Social IndicatorsRulers who led their people to the Realm of Lesser Prosperity, a xiaokang[4] lifestyle, were themselves pillars of courtesy, sincerity, justice and virtue while those who did not lost power and everyone regarded them as pests. China’s GINI, which never reached our nosebleed levels, is dropping like a stone and extreme poverty will be gone next year, when every Chinese will have a home, a job, plenty of food, education, safe streets, health and old age care (there will then be more drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China). 500,000,000 urban Chinese will have more net worth and disposable income than the average American, their mothers and infants will be less likely to die in childbirth, their children will graduate from high school three years ahead of–and outlive–our kids. Ninety-eight percent of Chinese listed as ‘poor’ already own their homes and Xi has scheduled 2021-2035 to bringing GINI below Finland’s.

Education: No country has so many intelligent, well trained, devoted engineers. One-fourth of the world’s STEM workers are Chinese, an intellectual workforce eight times larger, growing six times faster and graduating high school students three years ahead of ours. By 2025, China will have more technologically skilled workers than the entire OECD–the US, EU, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Turkey–combined.

Low crime, no religious nonsense or Islamic violence. Companies can invest safely without fear of religious unrest, violence or robbery.

Faith in the future, nationalism, a belief in building a better China: the Chinese have a strong belief in the future and willingly sacrifice time and effort for the next generation. The Chinese are feeling as we did in the 60s, except that their wages and wealth have doubled every decade for seventy years.

Their Market: There are twice as many people in China than in the US and Europe combined and domestic consumption of China is growing 7% annually thanks to 200 million rural people moving into new cities. China will have abundant low salary workers in its western provinces for the next 15 years. Chinese companies are flexible beyond imagination. They can change products, management, focus or whatever literally overnight. The Chinese are incredibly flexible and their culture has already outlived the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. Western companies are hierarchically organised whereas in Chinese companies decisions are made fast, often on the phone.

Politics. China is the world’s leading democracy. Though this claim enrages many Westerners, regardless of the metric employed, electively, popularly, procedurally, operationally, substantively, financially, and technologically, China is a thriving democracy and America is not.

DefenseThe PLA fields some of the most modern weapon systems in the world at half the cost of America’s defense budget. Its more modern missiles outrange ours in every weight and class thanks to the tight coupling between their world leading chemists and rocket propellent manufacturers. Russian weapons systems fill any gaps.

Morale. A highly cohesive society, 95% support their government’s policies and most are willing to fight for their country.

The Future. By 2025, nine provinces will enjoy higher average incomes than the US. By 2040, all will.

Notes

[1] The Grand Chessboard

[2] Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, Samuel Huntington

[3] The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict, and Culture in the 21st Century

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US removes shadowy group condemned by China from terror list

‘Enough is enough’: China attacks US at Security Council

by Agence France-Presse

The United States said Friday it had removed from its list of terror groups a shadowy faction regularly blamed by China to justify its harsh crackdown in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

In a notice in the Federal Register, which publishes new US laws and rules, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was revoking the designation of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a “terrorist organization.”

“ETIM was removed from the list because, for more than a decade, there has been no credible evidence that ETIM continues to exist,” a State Department spokesperson said.

The administration of George W. Bush in 2004 added ETIM, also sometimes called the Turkestan Islamic Party, to a blacklist as it found common cause with China in the US-led “war on terror.”

Beijing has regularly blames ETIM for attacks as it justifies its measures in Xinjiang, where rights groups say that one million or more Uighurs or other Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim people are incarcerated in camps.

But scholars say that China has produced little evidence that ETIM is an organized group or that it is to blame for attacks in Xinjiang, which separatists call East Turkestan.

The Washington-based Uighur Human Rights Project called the State Department decision “long overdue” and a “definitive rejection of China’s claims.”

“The harmful effects of China’s exploitation of the imagined ‘ETIM’ threat are real — 20 years of state terror directed at Uighurs,” said the group’s executive director, Omer Kanat.

But China’s foreign ministry spokesman on Friday expressed China’s “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the US decision”, urging the US to “stop backpedaling on international counter-terrorism cooperation”.

China has acknowledged camps in Xinjiang but describes them as vocational centers meant to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism.

While experts have doubted a role of ETIM, China has suffered a series of attacks that authorities blamed on Uighur separatists.

In 2014, assailants stabbed to death 31 passengers at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

In 2009, hundreds died in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in riots that largely targeted China’s majority Han.

Activists say that China is trying to forcibly integrate Uighurs by indoctrinating them with communist ideology and making them renounce Islamic customs.

Pompeo has previously called the mass incarceration “the stain of the century” and US senators across party lines are seeking to declare China’s treatment of the Uighurs genocide.

ETIM was listed on the US Terrorism Exclusion List, which affects entry of people into the country, but was never hit with the tougher designation of Foreign Terrorist Organization.

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China intends to subject its enterprises to national imperatives

The People’s Republic of China has progressively adopted the capitalist system. The Communist Party ruling the country has shifted its ideology, abandoning collectivism to devote itself more to both the defense of national interests and economic development.

In writing his “Opinion on Strengthening the United Front Work of the Private Economy in the New Era,” President Xi Jinping’s aim was to link these two goals. Following on from what he envisioned at the 19th Congress (2017), a new body, the United Front, has been tasked with ensuring that the pursuit of profit does not undercut national interests. To achieve this, he appointed a Party delegate to the board of each company.

This development, which some Westerners misinterpret as a Communist whim, is merely the Chinese version of “economic patriotism.”

The Chinese economy is beginning to experience offshoring to Vietnam, India and other Asian countries; a phenomenon anticipated by Karl Marx and which has partially destroyed Western middle classes over the past thirty years. The Communist Party does not intend to follow the same path and put at risk the tremendous progress that has been made by its country.

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NATO chief rules out rushed, early exit from Afghanistan

By Jim W. Dean,

…from PressTV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: It comes as no surprise that NATO does not want to get out of Afghanistan any time soon. The reasons are the usual ones. First, any deployment closer to Russia is always a good thing, and any possible excuse to maintain it is sufficient.

Peacetime armies are always wanting to keep some troops trained to a war fighting capability. That includes the limited fighting we see NATO engaged in from their operational capacity inside their bases. Along with the US, NATO acts as a palace guard for the current Kabul regime, which has always needed foreign protection.

The other main reason, more important, is to keep intelligence gathering skills tuned up, especially with electronic gathering. Language skills need to be maintained, and the myth of defending Europe from attack from Eurasia has to be maintained to justify NATO’s existence at the level it is at.

Keep in mind my report last year how Germany said it could take five more years before its infantry soldiers all had two pairs of boots. That really shocked me.

And last, there is defending one’s cut of the drug trafficking business, which involves the use of military aircraft as the preferred method of transportation, typically flying into Camp Bondsteel in Romania as a first stop. The cash is divided and used in a number of ways, including flowing into political campaigns and the usual luxury items.

Rural Afghanistan people bear the brunt of fighting the Taliban, which is much more motivated, and the US justifies its existence by providing Kabul troops air cover when it can. Westerners still cannot get their heads wrapped around the salt of the earth attitude Afghanis have toward what they view as foreign invaders.

Sure they love the dollar, and there are many of them to get, but other than that, they have no use for outsiders, as you could say they are caught in a time warp, partly due to their own making.

If left on their own, they will continue killing each other over who is going to be the boss and get the bigger cut of the graft pie. They think, correctly, that if they don’t steal it, then the guy coming behind them will, which is absolutely a sure thing.

It will just be a smaller pie if the US and NATO left. The Russians sure as hell would not be going back. China might want to step in, but they would probably live to regret it Jim W. Dean ]

First aired on PressTV before being blocked

The Press TV Brussels correspondent used up most of the segment time, which started late, 10 minutes, which is usually do to more news clip coverage, so hence my longer intro than usual above. JD

Note: The video link to this interview has been broken…Jim

The NATO chief has ruled out an early exit of the western military alliance from Afghanistan, as violence continues to flare in the war-torn country.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance will stay in Afghanistan until security conditions allow it to leave. The remarks came less than a week after the US said it will cut the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 25-hundred, early next year.

The comment also comes at a time when the rising violence threatens to thwart ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban militant group. US-led NATO forces have maintained their presence in Afghanistan since 2003. The alliance currently has around 12000 forces there, more than half of them from the U.S.

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Chinese forum discusses humanity’s shared future

Why is China so far ahead of the imperialist countries in its development of green technologies?

Joti Brar

The forum consisted of speeches and panel discussions by local experts and representatives of the international communist movement.

The following presentation was made on behalf of the CPGB-ML to the 27th Wanshou forum in Beijing on 28 February 2019. The forum was on the topic of ‘Building a community with a shared future for mankind and the development of socialism in the world’. It was co-hosted by the international department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) and the Renmin University of China.

*****

Comrades, during our visit we have seen the great emphasis China is now placing on developing in an environmentally sustainable way, taking seriously the urgent need to preserve a viable living environment and husband the earth’s resources.

Great thanks are due to the Chinese people and their leaders for these groundbreaking efforts. The work of developing green technology and of greening our existing industry and way of life is a duty that all humanity owes to future generations. At this moment in time, however, China is shouldering the vast majority of that burden alone.

The reason for this is not hard for us to detect. It lies in China’s ability to make and implement long-term plans and to subsidise and prioritise the necessary development. The Communist Party government’s direction of vital sections of the economy, its continued stable rule, and its willingness to put the needs of the masses at the heart of policymaking – all these are key to China’s successes in developing a rapidly advancing green technology sector and in implementing environmental measures in all other areas of Chinese industry and life.

It is clear to us that the Communist Party’s continuing stable rule, its closeness to the people, and its ability to control and plan as much as possible of the economy all need to be defended and advanced as strenuously as possible. Anything that undermines these things – the further development of destabilising capitalist market forces, for example, or the weakening of the party’s connections with the masses – will undermine China’s ability to continue to advance towards a fully sustainable model of ecologically-aligned economic development.

We who live in the western imperialist countries have particular reason to be grateful to China for the strides it is making in developing green technologies. Our countries’ industrialisation and technical advance was made at great cost to the environment and to the oppressed peoples of the world; our peoples continue to soak up a disproportionate amount of the earth’s resources and to contribute disproportionately to environmental degradation andglobal warming.

But although most imperialist governments pay lip service to the idea of taking action to slow down and reverse climate change, they are in practice incapable of implementing a single meaningful step towards that goal – no matter how strong or logical are the arguments that prove they ought to do so.

And this is for the simple reason that we live in societies where profit is the sole motivator of production. To make long-term investments that may not pay off for decades – or which may never be anything other than a drain on profitability – is simply not feasible for the capitalists.

Nor can they plan and coordinate efforts across different sectors in the way that is necessary to tackle climate change. Even creating such a simple thing as a joined up, affordable public transport system to get workers out of their cars faces too many obstacles from vested interests and profiteers to be seriously considered, never mind wholesale changes to industrial and agricultural practices, consumption patterns, building regulations and so on.

This is especially impossible when our rulers are, as now, caught in the grip of the worst-ever capitalist crisis of overproduction – a crisis that is on the brink of a further downward lurch, making anything outside of the cut-throat battle for survival and the quest for maximum profit mere air dreaming.

More than that: the crisis of capitalism is leading inexorably towards ever more and larger wars. In fact, if not stopped by revolution, it is clear that the imperialists are gearing up to wage a third, and even more cataclysmic, world war.

Modern industrial warfare squanders human and material resources on an unprecedented level, and catastrophically pollutes the earth’s land, air and water in the process. If it comes to pass, a third world war is certain to accelerate global warming.

The duty of communists in the imperialist nations is clear. We must redouble our efforts to build the forces that will enable our workers to carry out their own socialist revolutions. There is no third way – capitalism cannot be made sane through reform or persuasion.

Only socialism will enable us to plan production and implement the long-term strategies necessary to end poverty and war, and to halt and reverse climate change. Humanity’s future is socialist or it is barbarism and oblivion.

In the meantime, the workers across the capitalist world will continue to look to China’s leading example, and continue to be grateful for the great strides that China is making in addressing the urgent problems that face humanity.

I hope it will not be too long before British workers are in a position to join them in that effort.

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China will beat the coronavirus

While western hysteria is out of all proportion to the real scale of the emergency, the Chinese response has been swift and stunning.

Proletarian writers

Medical workers at Changshui International Airport in Kunming, Yunnan province, are among many who have been mobilised to aid the coronavirus control efforts.

The current health emergency in China, distressing as it is for those families in Wuhan and elsewhere who have lost their loved ones to the coronavirus, has at the same time brought to the fore the resilience and cohesion of Chinese society when it comes to tackling disasters of this magnitude.

At the time of writing, the virus has claimed the lives of over two hundred people in China, mostly in Hubei province where Wuhan is situated. There have so far been about 10,000 reported infections. There have in addition been 98 reported cases in 18 other countries, but as yet no fatalities.

To put these figures in perspective, an article on the Global Research website points out that Canada, whose population is roughly equivalent to that of Shanghai alone, has had more than 20,000 reported cases and 85 flu deaths so far this season. And in the United States there have so far been 140,000 flu victims hospitalised and around 8,500 deaths this season.

So it is well to keep in mind the global epidemiological context within which this new viral strain has emerged. (China’s coronavirus: A global health emergency is launched by Larry Romanoff, 31 January 2020)

That said, it is clear that the Chinese authorities are addressing the current problem with full seriousness, recognising that what makes the novel coronavirus especially dangerous is its high infectivity, and the likelihood that around 20 percent of people infected will develop into a critical condition.

China is collaborating closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), sharing technical information and the genome of the new viral strain. Chinese embassy staff abroad are in close contact with foreign governments, keeping them up to speed on the latest developments in the fight against the disease, and it is noteworthy that many of the precautions China is taking far exceed those required by international health regulations.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said he has full confidence in the preventive measures China had adopted to curb the spread of the illness. In particular, the WHO has advised against overreacting and withdrawing foreign nationals from Wuhan – advice that has been ignored by Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the US for reasons that probably have more to do with creating panic than with genuine health concerns.

Miracle of state planning

The speed and scale of China’s response to this natural disaster has been astounding, and cannot but invite adverse contrast with the US foot-dragging over Hurricane Katrina.

The most striking example of China’s ability to mobilise all its forces to deal with the crisis has been the construction in Wuhan, in just ten days, of a custom-built hospital to tackle the virus.

Millions of Chinese were able to follow the construction of the Huoshenshan hospital blow by blow as it was live-streamed by state media. From Monday 3 February, about 1,400 medics seconded from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began work in the hospital.

It came as no surprise that the PLA should be in the vanguard of efforts to overcome the virus, given the close historic bonds between the liberation army and the civilian population.

The scale of the new hospital is breathtaking. It measures 365,000 square feet and is kitted out with 1,000 beds. Not content with this, work is already far advanced in the construction of a second new hospital in Wuhan, this one with 1,500 beds.

A mass effort

The construction of Huoshenshan hospital involved the collaboration of thousands of experts, construction workers, engineers and others, many of whom worked round the clock to get the job done.

Xinhua press agency explained: “When Fang Xiang knew he and his team had to finish the hospital in Wuhan in 10 days, he thought it was ‘mission impossible’. ‘For a project of this scale, it usually takes at least two years,’ said Fang, project manager of the Third Construction Co Ltd of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau.

“‘It takes at least a month to construct a temporary building, not to mention a new hospital for infectious diseases.’ In addition, with a big number of migrant workers partaking, it is difficult to provide adequate food and shelter on-site.” (China builds new hospital in 10 days to combat coronavirus, 2 February 2020)

All sectors of Chinese society are pitching in to assist in any way possible. The state-owned telecom providers established emergency responses to facilitate communications in Hubei, and the state-owned pharmaceutical companies have pulled out all the stops to develop vaccines against the virus and speed up the production of test kits and medical equipment.

And even some privately-owned hotels in Wuhan are offering free accommodation to any medical staff who might be finding it difficult to get transport home at the end of the shift.

The spirit of patriotism and comradeship was perhaps best captured in the words of one middle-aged Wuhan resident, Ma Jiaqiang. Ma, who volunteered to operate a digger for eight hours a day on the construction site, summed up the feelings of many when he explained simply: “I have been working in Wuhan. It is my home. I just had to take part. I feel honoured to be able to be part of this.” (Xinhua, op cit)

Sadly, the same spirit was not animating the French and US superstore chains Carrefour and Wal-Mart, now facing heavy fines for using the opportunity of the health crisis to jack up prices and defraud customers, despite having been warned about this shystering practice. (Global Research, op cit)

How wide is the gulf that separates imperialist values from those held dear by the Chinese people! Speaking of the progress that had been made since the earlier experience of the Sars crisis in 2003, China’s foreign minister, Comrade Wang Yi, noted:

“With the strong leadership of comrade Xi Jinping and the advantage of the socialist system, as well as the experience from Sars, we are more resolute in tackling this epidemic with more forceful and quicker action.”

We have every confidence that China will rise magnificently to the challenge

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Isabel and Michael Crook show love for China with Covid-19 relief

Comrade Michael praises the ability of the Chinese system to mobilise resources in the public interest as Wuhan emerges victorious from its lockdown.

Proletarian writers

On 27 January, four days after Wuhan was sealed off, local residents in a spontaneous show of solidarity sang patriotic songs and chanted “Wuhan, fight; China, fight” from their balconies. By the beginning of April, Wuhan started to record zero deaths.

The following article about our party’s honorary president Isabel Crook and her son Michael is reproduced from Xinhua with thanks.

*****

Michael Crook remembers the thrill of stepping on the wooden planks of the Yangtze river bridge under construction in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in the summer of 1957 as a six-year old.

“We were allowed to walk right onto the bridge, stepping on wooden planks. I looked down through gaps between the planks to see the torrent hundreds of feet below. For one like me, who has always liked heights and enjoys bungee jumping, it was so thrilling!” Crook told Xinhua in a recent email interview.

Subsequent visits to Wuhan followed during Crook’s youth, which he remembered as “very calm, beautiful moments” in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s.

Growing up in China, the British-Canadian China hand, who is bilingual in English and Chinese, has the unique distinction of having lived in China for decades and witnessing the many profound changes the country has undergone.

An unprecedented event for him and his family was the Covid-19 epidemic in China, which would eventually become a pandemic.

Like others in China, Crook and his centenarian mother Isabel had to engage in what is known as ‘social distancing’ because of the epidemic. For Crook himself, that meant a greatly reduced social life, no more skiing and no more visits to swimming pools, although he tried swimming in the cold water of Beijing’s canals.

“Mum, being retired, has been affected less. But her social life has been much reduced – no friends over for dinner, no visits to homes of friends,” Crook said about his mother Isabel, who until recently has still maintained an active social life and attended various events.

Crook helped found the Western Academy of Beijing, an international school, in 1994, and has been involved with the International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (Gung Ho-ICCIC), whose mission is to bring benefits and opportunities to communities in need, for about 30 years.

After hearing of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan that would eventually claim thousands of lives, Crook, who now lives in Beijing, became living proof of kindness in a time of crisis.

He did not hesitate to make some donations to the virus-hit city of Wuhan through two not-for-profit institutions.

“I have made some donations – money and masks – to a hospital in Chengdu, and also to people in Wuhan, through the Jingxi Education Research Institute and the Rural Women Practical Skills Training School,” Crook said.

Crook added that, through the ICCIC, they have made much greater donations to hospitals in the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Shanghai and Datong.

But the relief efforts he was involved in also extended to Europe as Covid-19 rages in the west. “ICCIC being an international organisation, we have also made donations of masks to friends in Europe (Germany, UK) and are working on donations to Belgium, Italy and Spain,” Crook said.

Sending over donations to Europe was not easy logistics-wise, Crook admitted, as the equipment needed to be certified to the European standards and overcoming customs barriers could prove difficult.

His mother Isabel, a China-born Canadian anthropologist and author, is 104 years old and has lived in China for decades. She was one of the first foreign teachers at what today is known as the Beijing Foreign Studies University, China’s top university for foreign studies, and was awarded the Friendship Award, China’s highest award for foreigners who have made economic or social contributions to the country, in 2019.

A documentary titled ‘Isabel Crook: Childhood Memories from Bailuding’ was made to celebrate Isabel’s long life in and contributions to China.

Next to supporting her son’s Covid-19 relief efforts for the ICCIC, Isabel also made donations to Chengdu Second People’s Hospital in southwest China’s Sichuan province, across the street from where Isabel and her parents lived when she was growing up.

What’s more, mother and son recorded a video message together to express their support for Wuhan and China during the epidemic.

Crook said the relief efforts “amount to a drop in the ocean. It’s the thought that counts.”

The Crook family’s strong bonds with China go back a long way. “Counting my great-grandma Cecelie Sophie Allemand, who taught French in Chengdu about 100 years ago, I am fourth generation in China,” Crook said.

“My missionary forebears came to China because they were imbued with the spirit of service. Both parents were very public-spirited,” he added.

“I think there are factors that have contributed to China’s great success in dealing with the epidemic,” Crook said. “One is China’s traditional emphasis on collective good, subordinating individual to the collective, stressing cooperation more than competition.”

Crook’s observations are borne out by what occurred shortly after Wuhan was locked down. On 27 January, four days after Wuhan was sealed off, local residents leaned on windows in a spontaneous show of solidarity. They sang patriotic songs and chanted “Wuhan, fight; China, fight” from the balconies, and the sounds rippled across the rooftops.

In the thick of the battle against the disease, Chinese deliverymen at risk of being infected kept supplying Wuhan’s residents with essential supplies as they were confined to their homes.

Images went viral on China’s social media platforms, with one showing a taxi driver’s having hung a plastic sheet inside his car to cocoon himself from passengers, a responsible gesture symbolising good hygiene and social responsibility.

“So Chinese people naturally are mindful of others, rather than always fighting for their individual rights and interests,” Crook believed.

In terms of the Chinese government’s efforts against the virus, Crook praised China’s current system as the government can mobilise resources “in the public interest”.

As the outbreak appears to be winding down in China, Wuhan has been bracing for a revival of activity. The transport hub reopened its subway and railway station on 28 March, following more than two months of suspension due to the pandemic, and the lockdown on Wuhan was lifted on Wednesday. Now the focus is shifting to other Covid-19 hotspots abroad.

“Not only has China done a pretty good job for itself, it has given generous help to other countries,” Crook said. “China’s work on curbing the spread of Covid-19 is not just at home, but made an impact around the world!”

On 31 March, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference that the Chinese government has provided 120 countries and four international organisations with surgical masks, N95 respirators, protective suits, nucleic acid test kits, ventilators and other supplies.

“There is much other countries can learn from China,” Crook said, “but of course they may need to adapt measures to their particular situations.”

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Hong Kong and the British government’s servile stupidity

Our rulers are tying us ever more firmly to the war chariot of US imperialism.

Ella Rule

The latest anti-China hysteria being provoked in Britain around the protests in Hong Kong and China’s supposed culpability in connection with the coronavirus pandemic amount to nothing more than the screams of rage of a fading imperialist power confronted with a power that is swiftly rising to prominence in the world.

Martin Wolf of the Financial Times has drawn attention to disturbing parallels with the situation that existed at the run up to the first world war:

“A fascinating paper by Markus Brunnermeier and Harold James of Princeton University and Rush Doshi of Brookings argues that ‘the rivalry between China and the USA in the twenty-first century holds an uncanny resemblance to the one between Germany and Great Britain in the nineteenth’.

“Both rivalries took place in an era of economic globalisation and rapid technological innovation … Moreover, both rivalries featured ‘countries enmeshed in profound interdependence wielding tariff threats, standard-setting, technology theft, financial power, and infrastructure investment for advantage’.

“‘Latecomers’, such as Germany then or China now, simply will not accept permanent disadvantage.”

And of course the old lags try to hang on like grim death to their historic privileges and increasingly unwarranted advantages! All this was, of course, explained, by VI Lenin over a century ago in connection with the first world war in his pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

Unlike imperial Germany in the 19th century, however, China is not a rival imperialist power, but it is enough that it is a rival economic power whose fair dealings with various oppressed countries round the world tend to undermine the ability of imperialist powers, including Britain, to superexploit those countries to the full extent that they would like.

Quite rightly, Mr Wolf realises it was economic rivalry that led to the first world war and catastrophe, and, as it would seem he is not quite insane, he would prefer that this should not be the outcome of the present rivalry, though he is careful to assign the blame for any such outcome on ‘Germany then or China now’, the newcomer not the decaying power.

In actual fact it was Britain and France that precipitated the war against Germany, and not the other way round, as they were anxious to defeat it militarily before it became strong enough to defeat them, and something of the kind is certainly in the mind of the imperialist powers with respect to China now.

An important part of preparing for war is to mobilise public opinion in support of the war, to dress up what would be an unjust predatory war as a noble war in defence of human rights, democracy and freedom. And a sure sign of the fact that imperialism is contemplating such a war is precisely the anti-China propaganda frenzy. If the Daily Express is to be believed, it is being very effective, at least among Tory party members:

“With anger growing over the Chinese government allegedly covering up the coronavirus outbreak 68.7 percent want manufacturing capabilities brought back from China to the UK while 88.7 percent back the creation of the so-called D10 group of G7 economies plus India, Australia and South Korea to form an economic bloc to combat China.” (Tories vote to allow British Hong Kong citizens to come to the United Kingdom by David Maddox, 15 June 2020)

Goebbels, with good reason, always claimed to have learnt his disinformation techniques by emulating the British!

Boris intent on cutting off Britain’s nose

Of course, the main contender for war against China is the imperialist United States, angry not only about the undermining of its imperialist enterprises but also about China’s increasing ability to compete to great effect with America’s remaining high-tech and military industries.

Imperialist Britain has for decades now been reduced to the position of America’s sidekick. Boris Johnson, though, is setting new records in falling over backwards to ingratiate himself with the Boss, no matter the cost to his own country. For instance, while at one time the government was prepared to have some consideration for the interests of the British economy by using Huawei equipment to provide the best and cheapest wifi, including what is expected to be a totally game-changing 5G network, it is now ordering this to be ripped out:

“The National Cyber Security Centre in the UK is expected to conclude that US sanctions against Huawei will make it impossible to use the Chinese company’s technology as planned for 5G networks.

“The emergency review … is designed to pave the way for Downing Street to push for the total elimination of Huawei equipment in British phone networks by 2023 and quell a Conservative backbench revolt [actually, to appease US imperialism].

“That move will amount to a hasty reversal of the policy announced by ministers in January to limit Huawei to 35 percent of the British 5G network supply. It also risks irritating China and adding hundreds of millions of costs to BT and other phone companies.” (Cyber security review may spell end for Huawei 5G deal by Dan Sabbagh, The Observer, 24 May 2020)

No less a person than CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn has expressed dismay at the damage any such action would do to British industry:

“The boss of Britain’s biggest business group has waded into the row over Huawei’s role in the nation’s 5G network, warning moves to restrict the Chinese firm’s involvement could ‘damage’ economic recovery.

“CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said the nation’s future economic revival is already being labelled a ‘digital first’ recovery, with many employees working from home and firms seeking innovative ways to adapt and boost productivity.” (CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn storms into row over Huawei 5G involvement by Neil Craven, Mail on Sunday, 13 June 2020)

Preparing for a new world war

The anti-China belligerence extends well beyond the boycotting of Huawei, as is illustrated by the following weasel words from the Financial Times:

“Boris Johnson’s government is drawing up a strategy to reduce the UK’s reliance on China for key imported goods, as ministers acknowledge that a combination of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit will force a big shake-up of the country’s supply chains.

“The planned overhaul will aim to implement the results of ‘Project Defend’ – an internal exercise to ensure Britain retains access to critical goods while diversifying the country’s trading relationships.

“Those working on the project … stressed it was primarily about strengthening the country’s trade links in the wake of coronavirus but would also lead to the production of some critical goods being brought back to the UK, after the pandemic exposed the UK’s reliance on imports.

“‘Reshoring everything doesn’t fit with our ambition to be a champion of free trade,’ said one person briefed on the talks. But a recurring theme of the discussions has been the need to reduce Britain’s reliance on trade with China, the second-biggest source of imports by value after Germany.

“The Covid-19 crisis has forced ministers to confront the lack of domestic sources of critical medical supplies, such as protective equipment, vaccines and certain chemicals, after the pandemic led to global shortages.” (UK looks to wean itself off Chinese imports by George Parker and Daniel Thomas, 10 June 2020)

So, the excuse for reducing trade with China, precisely at a time when the UK is desperate for trade deals because of Brexit, is to secure domestic sources of supplies in the event of supply chains being once more disrupted by a pandemic or other emergency. By targeting these measures at China, and China alone, the government could not be clearer in demonstrating that it is anticipating the ‘emergency’ would be war with China.

Further measures are being taken in the field of investment. “Boris Johnson is preparing to announce tough laws to prevent foreign takeovers that pose a risk to national security as concern grows about the influence of China”, wrote Steven Swinford recently. (Laws to curb Chinese takeovers, The Times, 8 June 2020)

Never mind that Britain is desperate for foreign investment to assist with its recovery from economic crisis. It’s better to suffer than to accept help from China!

All this kowtowing to the requirements of Uncle Sam will no doubt be pleasing to President Donald Trump, although in pursuance of its perennial policy of ‘America First’, only a fool would look in that direction to make good the losses arising from wrecking friendly relations with China.

Tame journalists pimp for war with Hong Kong propaganda

To ‘justify’ this unwarranted belligerence against China, the discontent in Hong Kong, undoubtedly fostered by the dirty-tricks brigades of US and British imperialism, is being milked for all its worth.

We are asked to believe that the discontent is about ‘lack of freedom’, that the people of Hong Kong are being viciously suppressed, and that no worse fate could possibly befall them than to have China pass legislation criminalising treason.

And of course, China is supposedly in breach of its international obligation undertaken when Hong Kvong was returned to the motherland to maintain for 50 years a state of ‘One country, two systems’, which is being interpreted as meaning that China had accepted it was not to have sovereignty over Hong Kong at all!

As we have seen with the ‘colour revolutions’ fostered by imperialism, the trick is to take advantage of local grievances (in Hong Kong’s case the high cost of housing) to mobilise large public demonstrations and then to ensure that a violent task force causes sufficient damage to property to need police suppression, which is then touted as evidence that the innocent public have no right to express dissent of any kind.

This violence is repeated as often as possible, and the whole recipe is soused in a rich mixture of anti-government propaganda, plenty of cash and other facilities being provided to make sure this ingredient thoroughly permeates the whole.

In the homelands of the would-be warmongering imperialists, acceptance of this ‘truth’ is hammered home by unremitting repetition in the media of these carefully crafted lies, along with suppression of those who try to spread the truth – suspension of social media accounts, withdrawal of broadcasting licences, etc.

US hypocrisy exposed by Floyd murder and protests

Much to the embarrassment of the imperialists, however, in the midst of their campaign of anti-China ravings huge demonstrations burst out in the United States, subsequently taken up all over the capitalist world, against institutional racism following the police murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020, who gasped ‘I can’t breathe’ as a policeman kneeled with his full weight on George’s neck until he died.

Because the murder of black people by police is such a regular occurrence in the United States, the genuine anger of the masses of people, both black and white, did lead to some destruction of property, and the response of US imperialism was of course far more violent and repressive than anything that had been done by the Hong Kong police.

In addition President Trump saw fit to refer to the demonstrators as terrorists, lowlifes and losers, and to threaten to deploy the national guard, as well as the military against them, openly threatening that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

So when “America’s state department last weekend [30-31 May] called on ‘freedom-loving people’ to hold China to account for its vow to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. A Chinese official instantly tweeted: ‘I can’t breathe’.” (America’s battered moral standing by Editorial Board, Financial Times, 5 June 2020)

As far as freedom of speech is concerned, here too America far outdoes anything China might do to try to quell the mendacious speech of troublemakers:

“This is what freedom of the press in America has looked like over the past week. As of 9.00pm Thursday [4 June], the US Press Freedom Tracker had received 192 reports of journalists being attacked by police while covering the protests across the US.” (Teargassed, beaten up, arrested: what freedom of the press looks like in the US right now by Poppy Noor, The Guardian, 6 June 2020)

Imagine the hysteria in the bourgeois media if China had responded to the Hong Kong protests in like manner!

The latest propaganda stick for beating China with is the fact that it proposes to provide Hong Kong with a security law that will provide criminal penalties for “splittism, subversion, terrorism, and any behaviour that gravely threatens national security, and foreign interference”. Since there is not a country in the world that does not penalise subversion, secession, terrorism and acts that threaten national security, this is obviously nothing that warrants the hysterical denunciations that are daily emerging from the bourgeois media.

All that is left is to say that China had no right to impose such a law, since the 1984 handover agreement established a mini-constitution for Hong Kong, the ‘Basic Law’, under which the territory is required to implement its own national security law to replace colonial legislation revoked during the handover. In the 23 years since the handover, however, Hong Kong has failed to do so.

Given the present unrest, China could not but step in to remedy the omission. This is its sovereign right.

British hypocrisy over refugees

To boost the imperialist fantasy that Hong Kongers will be facing repression of holocaust proportions, the British government has come up with the wheeze – to please America and annoy China – of offering the right of residence in the UK to up to three million Hong Kong citizens who have British National (Overseas) passports or are entitled to them, which hitherto did not confer any right to enter the UK.

This amounts to a third of the territory’s population! Apparently almost two-thirds of Conservative party members, according to David Maddox in the Daily Express support giving Hong Kongers full UK citizenship.

Here we are talking about Tories who are notorious for not wanting a single genuinely persecuted refugee to enter Britain, or any foreign child to enter to be united with its family, and who seriously believe refugees threaten to ‘swamp’ our sceptred isle, yet they happily invite in Hong Kongers, who cannot by any stretch of imagination be described as persecuted, in numbers equalling a third of the population of London.

By comparison, the east African Asians who took refuge in Britain in the 1970s numbered only some 70-75,000. Many of these Tories are people who voted for Brexit in the hope it would put a stop to immigration from eastern Europe!

If Britain recognises that it can accommodate three million extra citizens who face no persecution, which we are sure it can, then first and foremost it should open its doors to all those fleeing genuine persecution or destitution such as those languishing in refugee camps all over Europe.

The most important thing to bear in mind about the whole anti-China scenario is that it amounts to preparation for war, and a war against a power that has the ability to strike back at its antagonists in their home countries in a very serious way. This is not somewhere that Boris Johnson should be allowed to lead us.

Martin Wolf concludes his article, as we will conclude ours, with the following words:

“We must also see that purblind nationalism and fantasies of grandeur [that led to the first world war] did not produce an elegant balance of power, but rather a cataclysm …

“Above all, we must not forget how unbridled great-power competition has normally … ended … We need to remember, too, that the weapons now available are far more destructive than those of a century ago …

“These are difficult and dangerous times. We need to rise to the occasion but are not. This is a fact. Recognise it.”

We would only say that Mr Wolf of course has drawn back from reaching the necessary conclusion that for the vast majority of people who abhor war, it is time to recognise that if we are unable to put an end to imperialism, imperialism is bent on leading us to war, and a war of unprecedented devastation at that.

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Communist Party of China celebrates 99th birthday

Special issue of China Insight highlights the achievements of the CPC since its foundation in 1921.

Proletarian writers

Download the special CPC99 anniversary issue of China Insight as a pdf.

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The Communist Party of China was founded in 1921 by a few dozen Chinese intellectual communists at its founding congress in Shanghai. Under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, and following the path of the October Revolution, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the CPC, went on to score great victories.

However, their path was strewn with unbelievable difficulties and hardship. On the eve of the victorious Chinese Revolution in 1949, this is how Mao Zedong described the awakening of the Chinese people:

“From the time of China’s defeat in the Opium War of 1840, Chinese progressives went through untold hardships in their quest for truth from the western countries …

“Imperialist aggression shattered the fond dreams of the Chinese about learning from the west. It was very odd – why were the teachers always committing aggression against their pupil? The Chinese learned a good deal from the west, but they could not make it work and were never able to realise their ideals.

“Their repeated struggles, including such a countrywide movement as the revolution of 1911, all ended in failure. Day by day, conditions in the country got worse, and life was made impossible. Doubts arose, increased and deepened. World War 1 shook the whole globe.

“The Russians made the October Revolution and created the world’s first socialist state. Under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, the revolutionary energy of the great proletariat and labouring people of Russia, hitherto latent and unseen by foreigners, suddenly erupted like a volcano, and the Chinese and all mankind began to see the Russians in a new light.

“Then, and only then, did the Chinese enter an entirely new era in their thinking and their life. They found Marxism-Leninism, the universally applicable truth, and the face of China began to change.

“It was through the Russians that the Chinese found Marxism. Before the October Revolution, the Chinese were not only ignorant of Lenin and Stalin, they did not even know of Marx and Engels. The salvoes of the October Revolution brought us Marxism-Leninism.

“The October Revolution helped progressives in China, as throughout the world, to adopt the proletarian world outlook as the instrument for studying a nation’s destiny and considering anew their own problems. Follow the path of the Russians – that was their conclusion.” (On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, In commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the CPC, Mao Zedong, 30 June 1949)

The special issue of China Insight attached to this article outlines the history of the CPC since its founding 99 years ago. It collates photos and statistics that show the incredible achievements that have made under the party’s leadership in alleviating poverty and building a modern and prosperous society. And it shows the significant contribution China has made in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Download the special CPC99 anniversary issue of China Insight as a pdf.

Visit the Bejing Review website for more information.

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