Opinion | America's zero-sum game against China
By Philip Yeung, university teacher
The mouse has just roared. Much to the chagrin of President Biden, the prime minister of the tiny Solomon Islands has openly snubbed mighty America's Pacific Island Summit with a no-show. Other Pacific island absentees include the leader of Timor Leste which is forging close ties with China in energy, agriculture and infrastructure. Vanuatu's prime minister also sent his regrets. A slap in the face heard around the world for the Lord of the White House.
This Pacific Island Forum is the latest and unlikely battleground in the US fight for supremacy against a rising China. Long neglected by the US, and starved of global attention, it has been completely off American radar. Suddenly, this remote region is front and center in US calculations and consciousness. For over 30 years, the Solomon Islands didn't even have an American embassy. Now, thanks to the lava flow of US-China rivalry, these lonely islands find themselves geopolitically relevant.
America is throwing its kitchen sink at this tug-of-war, earmarking up to $7.1 billion dollars for the region. This is tainted money, a naked quid pro quo for strategic gains. But it comes with dirty strings attached--the building of American military bases and intelligence telecommunications facilities. Alarmed by China's successful wooing of these island nations, Biden decides to play catch up. The Solomon Islands, for one, has a security agreement with China, and is firmly in the Chinese orbit, Typically, America is adopting a stick and carrot approach, the carrot being the billion-dollar handout, the stick is couched in a threat to take military action if China dares to install military facilities there. The US has gone berserk with bases boasting over 750 military of them bristling around the world, and now spiking its military capabilities in Okinawa and the Philippines. Uncle Sam is playing an asymmetric game of winner-take-all.
China has no appetite for world domination. Its pacific national character is deliberately twisted by US politicians. History backs up Beijing's claim of a peaceful rise. The legendary Chinese global navigator Zeng He went on seven trading voyages throughout South-east Asia and the Indian Ocean without once seeking colonial conquest, unlike predatory European powers. Zeng's mission is re-enacted in today's Belt and Road Initiative—designed to break out of American economic encirclement. Someone pointed out that China built the Great Wall to keep foreigners out. It wanted no territorial conquests. The Chinese are domesticated creatures who seek their thrills from the mahjong table not from climbing Mount Everest or colonizing exotic places. In love with their homeland, the Chinese are a different breed from the empire-building Japanese, Americans and Russians.
America and its allies are cleverly deploying the tactic of projection---projecting onto China their own imperial intentions, painting it as a threat to the global order. If the third world war breaks out, it would be the first time in history that "projection" is the cause of conflict.
China's only military conflicts over the last 75 years were on its doorstep. No messy entanglements in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. No one dies because of Chinese aggression.
And yet, the one who cries wolf the loudest are the warmongering Americans whose invasions took the lives of millions of innocent civilians, aided and abetted by UK and Australia and other allies. The blood debt has never been paid. America's threat is real. China's threat is purely hypothetical.
Another psychological factor at play is "transference"—cleverly transferring fear of Russia to China. Despite being former communist comrades, that ideological umbilical cord has long been severed. Their alliance has been solely forged by US animosity. China is reluctant to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, knowing full well that as soon as the Ukraine war ends, US guns and bombers will be trained at China. America is addicted to conflict. China is addicted to money-making. Bulking up its military muscle is to deter American aggression, not for world domination.
America is openly lusting for war with China, fanning up tensions over Taiwan. Ditto in Hong Kong. But America's warped thinking and crooked moves have unintended consequences: for one thing, it has turbo-charged Chinese patriotism, keeping the country united and governable. Secondly, America's "take-no-prisoners" sanctions have driven China into technological self-sufficiency, as Huawei's recent successful launch of its new smartphones shows. With more strategic miscalculations down the pike, America may be the ultimate victim of its own viciousness, leaving China to laugh last.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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