It started well before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is sure being ramped up in the wake of the virus. The demonization of China has been seen for years now in the corporate media, particularly among conservatives. It was part of the inspiration for the rise in right-wing populism that led to Trump’s victory in 2016.
Many working-class Americans had carried a smoldering anger for years about the corporate trade deals that saw millions of manufacturing jobs – for decades the backbone of an economy that was based on production of real goods – taken overseas. Permanent normal trade relations with China translated into over 2 million manufacturing jobs going to China which helped to underpin that country’s lifting of millions of its citizens out of poverty. This was perceived to be at the expense of the American worker. This is not an unjustified view.
However, the hard truth is that the Chinese government did not hold a gun to the economic elites’ heads in the United States, forcing them to relinquish millions of living wage jobs for Americans. The economic elites in the United States willingly did so due to greed and no sense of loyalty to their fellow Americans. Patriotism is for the rubes according to the elites who do not see themselves bound by such quaint notions.
It is much easier for FOX news personalities, Rising co-host Sagaar Enjeti and others, to portray China as some uniquely evil country than to hold American elites to account for their betrayal, along with the corporate media’s role from the 1990’s on in legitimizing corporate free trade as a law of nature not to be questioned.
As for China itself, it is definitely an authoritarian country. However, it is governed in a more complicated manner than the overly simplistic characterization provided by US corporate media outlets and politicians. China’s leadership does have a certain degree of accountability to its people, but it’s not via elections, which westerners see as the only viable means of political accountability. In the TED Talk below, Eric X. Li explains how China is actually governed, why the country has been able to achieve so much in a relatively short period of time, and what forms of accountability the Chinese leadership is held to in the absence of formal elections. Li points out that western analysts don’t have a familiar box in which to place China:
Another criticism we often hear about China’s authoritarianism is its alleged treatment of millions of Muslim Uyghurs in its Xinjiang province. But where are these stories of Chinese Uyghur repression coming from and how credible are they? In a recent in-depth report published at The Grayzone, investigative journalists Max Blumenthal and Ajit Singh detail how these allegations have been amplified based on threadbare evidence:
The claim that China has detained millions of ethnic Uyghurs in its Xinjiang region is repeated with increasing frequency, but little scrutiny is ever applied. Yet a closer look at the figure and how it was obtained reveals a serious deficiency in data.
While this extraordinary claim is treated as unassailable in the West, it is, in fact, based on two highly dubious “studies.”
The first, by the US government-backed Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, formed its estimate by interviewing a grand total of eight people.
The second study relied on flimsy media reports and speculation. It was authored by Adrian Zenz, a far-right fundamentalist Christian who opposes homosexuality and gender equality, supports “scriptural spanking” of children, and believes he is “led by God” on a “mission” against China.
As Washington ratchets up pressure on China, Zenz has been lifted out of obscurity and transformed almost overnight into a go-to pundit on Xinjiang. He has testified before Congress, providing commentary in outlets from the Wall Street Journal to Democracy Now!, and delivering expert quotes in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ recent “China Cables” report. His Twitter bio notes that he is “moving across the Atlantic” from his native Germany.
Blumenthal and Singh go on to explain how the credibility of these claims suffer as the sources for them are exposed to scrutiny.
The “millions detained” figure was first popularized by a Washington, DC-based NGO that is backed by the US government, the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).
In a 2018 report submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – often misrepresented in Western media as a UN-authored report – CHRD “estimate[d] that roughly one million members of ethnic Uyghurs have been sent to ‘re-education’ detention camps and roughly two million have been forced to attend ‘re-education’ programs in Xinjiang.” According to CHRD, this figure was “[b]ased on interviews and limited data.”
While CHRD states that it interviewed dozens of ethnic Uyghurs in the course of its study, their enormous estimate was ultimately based on interviews with exactly eight Uyghur individuals…
….Thanks to questionable sources like the CHRD, the United States government has accused China of “arbitrarily detain[ing] 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities.”
….In its mounting pressure campaign against China, the US is not only relying on CHRD for data; it is directly funding its operations. As Ben Norton and Ajit Singh previously reported for The Grayzone, CHRD receives significant financial support from Washington’s regime-change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
I have written in my first book and on this blog about the National Endowment for Democracy and its genesis as the government agency created by congress in the wake of the Church Committee hearings which exposed the deadly operations of the CIA that outraged the American public: “In 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was born and Allen Weinstein, who helped write the legislation that brought it into existence, admitted in 1991, ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.’”
Blumenthal and Singh discuss the second major source for the Uyghurs in concentration camps claims against China:
The second key source for claims that China has detained millions of Uyghur Muslims is Adrian Zenz. He is a senior fellow in China studies at the far-right Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was established by the US government in 1983.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is an outgrowth of the National Captive Nations Committee, a group founded by Ukrainian nationalist Lev Dobriansky to lobby against any effort for detente with the Soviet Union. Its co-chairman, Yaroslav Stetsko, was a top leader of the fascist OUN-B militia that fought alongside Nazi Germany during its occupation of Ukraine in World War Two. Together, the two helped found the World Anti-Communist League that was described by journalist Joe Conason as “the organizational haven for neo-Nazis, fascists, and anti-Semitic extremists from two dozen countries.”
Today, Dobriansky’s daughter, Paula, sits on the board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. A former Reagan and George HW Bush official and signatory of the original Project for a New American Century document, Paula Dobriansky has become a fixture in neoconservative circles on Capitol Hill.
From its office in Washington, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation agitates for regime change from Venezuela to the periphery of China, advancing the “double genocide” theory that rewrites the history of the Holocaust and posits communism as a deadly evil on par with Hitlerian fascism.
Read the full article here.
Like Russia, China is a country on the other side of the world with a different history, culture and geography. It doesn’t have the same interests as the United States. It’s also a major economic power. It is therefore a competitor to the United States. But a competitor doesn’t necessarily have to be an enemy to be vilified. I don’t see the genuine problems between the United States and China as being insurmountable, but instead they could be managed with courage and skillful diplomacy. But as I’ve explained in regard to managing relations with Russia, diplomacy requires an understanding of the other nation’s perceived interests and what shapes them. For some insight into how the U.S. military posture in Asia – which the Pentagon is now quietly requesting $20 billion more for – may look from China’s perspective, check out award-winning journalist John Pilger’s documentary “The Coming War on China”:
Unfortunately, for a significant segment of our political class, the world is a Manichean place in which any other country who has the capability of pursuing national interests that are separate from the United States, must be met with a mobilization for war and the propaganda framing to support it, which the defense industry and the corporate media profit from. This represents an immature, arrogant and entitled mindset that is a holdover from our 3-decades long stint of being able to dominate much of the globe with our economic power, petrodollar and 700+ military bases. That domination is not sustainable and is in the process of collapsing. It is time for our political class to accept it and adopt a more mature outlook in which we manage our problems with competitor nations with sophisticated diplomacy and a dose of humility.