International People’s Tribunal on U.S. Imperialism / Black Agenda Radio with Margaret Kimberley

Countries facing sanctions imposed by the United States | Credit: Black Agenda Report

Nina Farnia is an Assistant Professor at Albany Law School and a member of the steering committee of the International People’s Tribunal on US Imperialism . The Tribunal is holding hearings on the impact of sanctions, economic coercive measures, in 16 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. She joins us from Albany, New York to discuss the tribunal’s work.

Margaret Kimberley is Executive Editor and Senior Columnist at Black Agenda Report, which she co-founded in 2006 with Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon. She is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents, Steerforth Press, 2020. Her work can be found on twitter @freedomrideblog and at

Black Agenda Radio is a project of the Black Agenda Report offering News, commentary and analysis from the black left.

Yoon Administration Takes Jeju Massacre Out of History Textbooks / by TK

Photo: “Flying Snow 비설”, a memorial statue in the Jeju April 3 Peace Park. Credit: Jeju Peace Foundation.

Originally published: The Blue Roof on 26 December 2022

Ministry of Education justified the move as “exploring the foundation of the Republic of Korea based on liberal democracy.”

After he was elected president in March, Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 was praised for being the first conservative president or president-elect to attend the memorial for the Jeju Massacre, also known as the April 3 Incident 4.3 사건. But just a few months later, the Yoon administration is on its way to removing discussion of the massacre from high school history books.

The Jeju Massacre is one of the most horrific acts of state violence in South Korean history. From 1947 to 1949, the Syngman Rhee 이승만 regime slaughtered as many as 30k civilians on the southern island of Jeju-do 제주도 at the behest of the United States. Under the pretext of rooting out communist insurrectionists, the Rhee dictatorship destroyed nearly 60% of Jeju’s villages and wiped out 10% of the entire island’s population. (See previous coverage, “Remembering the Jeju Massacre.”)

In 2015, the Ministry of Education 교육부 added the Jeju Massacre as one of the modern historical events that must be included in history textbooks. But in the “2022 Revised Educational Program 2022 개정교육과정” proposed by the Ministry, the Jeju Massacre was taken out as a mandatory element of learning. The Ministry said the revised guidelines were intended to “explore the foundation of the Republic of Korea based on liberal democracy,” and to simplify history education.

The Blue Roof is the first English language site dedicated solely to news and analysis of South Korean politics

Western media has not much evolved from the era of the yellow peril in its routine China-bashing / by Felix Abt


Originally published in CovertAction Magazine on November 27, 2022

It is common for Western media to automatically imply or label everything that happens in China as “evil.” The most recent case concerns the events surrounding former Communist Party Chairman Hu Jintao at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

| Source jpostcom | MR Online


“A ghostly scene at China’s top of power: Xi Jinping’s predecessor is taken away. The ‘new emperor’ is reaching for absolute power. What are the consequences for the world?” This is the title and the introduction of the newspaper Die Weltwoche to a German-language article by the British historian Francis Pike, in which he writes: “Hu’s media-fueled removal takes on the appearance of a political drama reminiscent of Chairman Mao’s brutal purges of party members in the 1950s.” He is referring to a video from the Chinese Party Congress showing former party leader Hu Jintao allegedly being “forcefully taken away.”

“The removal of Hu from the hall occurred mere minutes after foreign media were allowed into the Great Hall,” Pike adds. This immediately raises the question of why Xi Jinping should wait to “remove” Hu Jintao until Western media are on the scene, having only waited for such an opportunity to pillory the “cruel and inhumane dictator Ji Jinping”?

As for Xi Jingping’s dictatorship, it is worth noting in passing that last month at the Athens Democracy Forum (in collaboration with The New York Times), a scholar from the University of Zurich was asked to comment on democracy in China, and her response was not exactly what one would expect with so much Western dictatorship talk: In recent years, under Xi Jinping, there have been increased “democratic experiments, for example, to allow greater citizen participation and to make local government officials more responsive and accountable to citizens.” This is all the more remarkable because, in the so-called democratic West, the trend is in the opposite direction, namely toward a creeping dismantling of citizens’ democratic rights. And, as might be expected, the media did not report on it because, unlike Hu Jintao’s earth-shattering “removal” from the convention hall, it was apparently an insignificant detail that would also upset their China narrative.

Unwelcome details blanked out

| Ex Chinese President Hu Jintao being removed from Communist Party Congress on October 22 2022 Source nypostcom | MR Online

Ex-Chinese President Hu Jintao being removed from Communist Party Congress on October 22, 2022


The same media did not mention that the frail 80-year-old man, who left a somewhat bewildered impression, had been escorted to and from the convention for several days during the Party Congress and before the “forced removal” hyped by the Western media on the last day of the Congress.

Here, for example, you can see Xi Jinping taking care of him as a friendly usher.

Cutting away an important part of the message and changing perceptions with misleading text is manipulation and is—rightly!—castigated by the same media when it is done by China.

That Hu Jintao has a health problem was first noticed by China observers at the 2019 National Day parade, when he was seen on the Tiananmen Balcony in Beijing with his hands shaking badly.

Immediately prior to the incident at the Party Congress, Hu Jintao participated in the election as the second eligible voter, just after Xi Jinping, who cast his vote at the ballot box. In a society that is much more Confucianist than Communist, this symbolic placement in the vote signifies great respect for the elder statesman. The Western media also blanked this out of the overall picture. This made it easier for them to construct a coup, a purge and a humiliation of the former president.

| Source biz at itblogspotcom | MR Online


If Hu had really been purged during the day, as Western media claimed, it is highly unlikely that Chinese television would have shown him in its report in the evening.

According to George Soros, Xi is the “most dangerous man in the world.”

Political purge and humiliation for the history books or disruption of “worship”?

Little was heard from the official Chinese side about the incident, apart from a tweet from Xinhua News Agency saying Hu “did not feel well” during the meeting.

A report by Singaporean TV station CNA added an important detail that Western media representatives who were in the room seemed to have deliberately ignored: Hu had been looking at some documents on the table in front of him and apparently had a disagreement with the current chairman of China’s legislature, Li Zhanshu, who was sitting to his left, who took the documents out of his hand.

| Child soldiers in newsrooms turned into shooting galleries drop speculative bombs on China Young German journalist Fabian Kretschmer writes from Beijing for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung NZZ and various other media in Germany Austria and Switzerland as well as for the history books Above translation into English by Felix Abt | MR Online

“Child soldiers” in newsrooms turned into shooting galleries drop speculative bombs on China: Young German journalist Fabian Kretschmer writes from Beijing for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) and various other media in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as “for the history books.” (Above translation into English by Felix Abt)

And when Li Zhanshu tried to get up to help Hu stand, Li was briefly dragged back to his seat by Wang Huning, a party ideologue and former professor of international politics to his left, making matters even more confusing. Xi stopped this disruption to the choreographed party meeting and summoned a staffer, who then tried to get Hu to leave, and who then escorted him out of the room. The video also shows that Hu, after standing up, first hovered in place, then took a few slow steps, then stopped and turned to Xi, who nodded briefly but continued to look at the assembled delegates.

Claimed purge makes no sense

If it had been a dispute, the incident would have been extraordinary, because in communist parties, which are not known for their transparency, disagreements are settled behind closed doors, and in any case not in front of running cameras from the whole world. So one would need to know what is in the documents. A former Chinese insider told the BBC, “Why would the party put a document on Hu’s desk if he wasn’t allowed to see it?”

Bill Bishop of the China newsletter Sinocism stated that the “purge claimed by the media doesn’t make sense that way.” Hu Haifeng, Hu Jintao’s son and party secretary of Lishui, Zhejiang, also sat in the room. “A purge of one without the other would be unlikely,” Bishop explained.

A real China insider was interviewed by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. When asked about Xi Jinping’s possible motives for the alleged “forced removal” of Hu Jintao, he replied:

“Xi is certainly not shy about taking drastic action, but his obsession is to restore party discipline through rules and procedures. He has never gone the way of Stalin or North Korea of just making his enemies disappear. Even with his bitterest foes—such as Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, and Guo Boxiong, people who, in fact, plotted a coup against him—Xi took them down, but did everything according to the procedures.

He is a stern but not an arbitrary ruler. His books and speeches have more citations from China’s Legalism school than anything else. Legalism (a bad translation) stresses the importance of rules and regulations over arbitrary power.

If anyone wants to challenge Xi, it would be incredible for them to do so on the last day of the party congress, which is mainly for formal endorsement and communication. The debate and negotiations happened behind the scene MONTHS beforehand. There were plenty of opportunities for the two to argue if they didn’t agree with each other. This was simply not the case.”

Why have some Western media platforms gone wild with speculation, including suggesting it was a purge, the interviewer asked:

“This is the problem I have with the Western media and those ‘experts.’ You can be critical of the Chinese system, and you may dislike it intensely, but you at least need to understand what you are criticizing. Their imagination of China is just a plus-size North Korea, a modern-day Stalinist state, or the new Nazis. In fact, many Western media just borrow the same analytical tools they used to analyze the Soviet Union or North Korea or even Nazi Germany and apply it to China.

This is what I call the intellectual Procrustean bed they have forced on everyone studying China. Sometimes it can get really ridiculous. It’s either laziness or dogmatic rigidity or having an agenda—or a combination of all these.

| Hu Heifeng Source taiwannewscom | MR Online

Hu Heifeng [Source:]

There are many problems in Xi’s system, and so far he and the party have not come up with convincing answers to them. But to imagine it simply as another Soviet Union or North Korea is missing the point. If people start to make decisions based on such skewed views and perceptions, that will lead to real-life consequences. Hong Kong is a living example of it.”

So it is okay to criticize the Chinese system harshly, and pundits and the media may deeply loathe it, but they do so while being quite clueless.

Also, contrary to the predictions and speculations of experts and media in the West in the run-up to the Party Congress, the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” was not shortened to Xi Jinping Thought in the Constitution, nor was Xi given new descriptive titles such as “Leader/领袖.”

Further background and insights censored by the Western media

There are two other key current things that pundits like John Pike and the mainstream media will not tell you:

  1. China has remained essentially Confucian for more than two thousand years. Confucius advocated a government that cares for the people and makes their welfare its primary concern. It should be a meritocracy, in that “those who govern should do so on the basis of merit and not on the basis of inherited status,” he proclaimed, and that it should be enlightened and benevolent (in which the demonstrably most capable people who best serve the people should rise to positions of leadership).
  2. This is in contrast to Western democracies, where even the most incompetent can come to power thanks to empty promises and/or because they were well sponsored, and then have their own interests and those of their patrons in mind rather than the interests of their constituents. In China, civil servants still have to pass exams and prove themselves if they want to keep their jobs. This corresponds to the centuries-old Confucian tradition, according to which anyone, regardless of their social background, could obtain a position in the civil service at the imperial court after passing an entrance examination in various subjects. The fact that 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty in China over the past 40 years, accounting for more than 75% of global poverty, is no accident, but part of the application of this philosophy.
  3. Mainstream media such as Foreign Affairs magazine highlighted the “Collateral Damage in China’s War on Covid,” or Nikkei, the world’s largest financial newspaper, headlined “Self-isolated: China’s lonely zero-COVID battle in spotlight” without ever telling their readers and viewers why the Chinese government took draconian measures against the Covid pandemic: China’s biggest weakness is its health care system. South Korea has 10 intensive care beds per 100,000 people, America has 34, and China has only 4. As a result, the government feared that the health care system would not be able to handle a large influx of seriously ill patients. Most retirees are not vaccinated.

The reason that modern medicine, including hospitals with intensive care units, lags behind the rest of the world in China is that the Chinese believe in their traditional medicine (acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet, exercise, and manual therapy to correct imbalances in the body and promote mental and physical health) because it has been used for thousands of years and is steeped in tradition, belief, popularity and anecdote. Western remedies are far less popular because the vast majority of Chinese also believe that traditional Chinese medicine has fewer side effects and has a stronger restorative effect on the body.

In contrast to the seemingly completely out-of-touch Western media, East Asian media, which have a far better understanding of China, used less charged language related to Hu Jintao’s escort out of the Party Congress hall. It is also important to note in this context that, unlike Europe, Asian countries do not want to be drawn into the U.S. fight against China at their own expense, as I have detailed here.

For example, the conservative Korea Herald in Seoul soberly headlined that Hu Jintao was helped off the stage at the Party Congress.

It can therefore be assumed that the escorting of Hu Jintao at the Party Congress will not go down in the Korean history books.

“Media war between China and the West”

On the one hand, everything that comes out of China is hyped up, twisted and used in the West for China-bashing. On the other hand, more important things that would contribute to a better understanding of the country are simply suppressed. Another recent example:

Do you know Dilana Dilixiati? No, of course you don’t. But you certainly know Peng Shuai, the famous Chinese tennis player who, according to Western media reports, accused a retired top politician of rape (the word rape does not appear in her original Chinese text), after the years-long secret love affair with many ups and downs between the two had gone to pieces.

| Tennishead magazine wrote December 6 2021 The USA are reportedly set to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games this week in response to the censorship of Peng Shuai and her sexual assault allegations This boycott was carried out by the United States and its Western coalition of the willing Source Screenshot courtesy of Felix Abt | MR Online

[Source: Screenshot courtesy of Felix Abt]

Tennishead magazine wrote (December 6, 2021): “The USA are reportedly set to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games this week in response to the censorship of Peng Shuai and her sexual assault allegations.” This boycott was carried out by the United States and its Western “coalition of the willing.” Western politicians and media therefore immediately called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The athlete was subsequently often seen in public, laughing and talking to other people. Since she apparently did not disappear into a gulag, as Western politicians and media must have secretly hoped, she soon disappeared again from Western media discourse.

Dr. Pan Wang, a China expert from the University of New South Wales, provided background information and insights into the case on Australian television that were not available elsewhere.

She said it was only natural that Western organizations such as the World Tennis Association interpreted Ms. Peng’s social media post as a complaint of sexual misconduct and were suspicious of Beijing’s response given the lack of detailed information, communication or transparency and censorship on the matter.

However, she dismissed the accusation, saying there is no clear allegation of rape, which is a criminal offense in China, and “sexual harassment” falls under the Civil Code.

Whether the persuasion or coercion of the former vice premier described by Peng Shuai could be called “sexual assault” in the usual sense is subjective, she said.

She added that, while Beijing wants to suppress any controversy about its officials, the Western media are also pursuing their own political agenda regarding China.

“This case is about harassment, power and skepticism, and it occurred in a broader context of growing tensions between China and, for example, Australia, stemming from diplomatic tensions, trade disputes and growing accusations against China’s human rights, democracy and censorship,” she added.

She concluded: “So there’s a media war between China and the West and the Australian media here, too, and that’s reflected in the opposing views of the social media posts.”

The hidden story of the amazing career of a Uyghur woman

Back to Dilana Dilixiati. She, too, is a Chinese sports star. Her team had recently won an unexpected, sensational victory in the semifinals against basketball superpower Australia at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Australian media reported, “They defeated the hosts 61-59 at the Sydney Superdome on Friday night in a thrilling encounter that was decided only in the final seconds.” The dramatic thriller sent shock waves.

| Source englishnewscn | MR Online


Those who followed the game immediately recognized that Dilana Dilixiati (on the left in the photo above) looked different from her teammates. The journalists must have noticed her. Strangely enough, the Uyghur, who writes her name in Uyghur like this: دىلانا دىلشات, which does not look like Mandarin, did not attract any interest, although she would have been more suitable than any other for a sensational success story inviting clicks.

The 1.94-meter (6’ 4-1/2”) center basketball player of the Guangdong Vermilion Birds, who helped the Chinese women’s national team win a silver medal at the World Cup, regularly visits her family in Xinjiang.

A Twitter user found out that a Uyghur woman played on China’s successful national women’s basketball team and that the media did not want to know about it.

The Australian think tank ASPI, funded in particular by the Australian Department of Defense, the U.S. government, and the Western war industry, published the widely cited but refuted pamphlet “Uyghurs for Sale.” The organization was one of the driving forces in spreading the propaganda campaign of “genocide” against the Uyghurs in China, which originated in the United States.

The case is clear: Dilana Dilixiati, a Uyghur, and her ability to pursue a career as a top athlete and to travel, contradicts the Western narrative that is ingrained in people’s minds that Uyghurs, who are totally discriminated against, are prisoners and victims of genocide and cannot leave Xinjiang. Their story had to be kept quiet by the media, because consumers would naturally have noticed that there was something wrong with the prevailing narrative, and who likes to be manipulated.

Felix Abt is the author of “A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom” and of “A Land of Prison Camps, Starving Slaves and Nuclear Bombs?”

MRonline, November 29, 2022,

On the development of China’s environmental policies towards an ecological civilization / by Efe Can Gürcan

Haze of pollution in Beijing. 2006. (Photo: David Barrie / Flickr)

Originally publishedin Friends of Socialist China on November 15, 2022

We are very pleased to republish this important article by Efe Can Gürcan, Associate Professor at Türkiye’s Istinye University, which originally appeared in Volume 3 Issue 3 of the BRIQ (Belt & Road Initiative Quarterly).

The author argues that China has already developed a firm understanding of its environmental problems and their severity to the extent that it now frames them as a “matter of survival” and has brought these issues to the center of its revised national security strategy. China’s strategy is predicated on an alternative proposal for “ecological civilization”, which may potentially lead to the reversal of “ecological imperialism”. China is in the early stages of building an ecological civilization and requires a lot of work to reach a high level of ecological development.

China’s key achievements on the path towards ecological civilization involve a series of three unfolding and mutually conditioning revolutionary processes that also lead the way in international environmental cooperation. They include a clean energy revolution, a sustainable agricultural revolution, and a green urban revolution.

China has already become a global leader in green finance. It leads the eco-city movement, with over 43 percent of the world’s eco-cities being Chinese, and is the second leader in sustainable architecture, next to Canada. Many Chinese cities have dropped down or out of the list of the most polluted cities, leaving India and Pakistan at the top. China’s cities have also joined the ranks of those with the strongest sewage treatment capacity in the world. In addition, China has the most electric vehicles, bikes, and efficient public transportation. China is considered to be not only the world’s centre of electric bus production and consumption but also as having cities with the world’s longest subway systems.

From 2013 onwards, the share of coal in China’s total energy consumption has seen a noticeable decline, accompanied by the increasing share of renewable resources in total energy consumption as a result of conscious efforts at a clean energy revolution.

Key to this revolution in the making is China’s strong reputation as the world’s top investor in clean energy. As such, it has succeeded in creating the world’s largest wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems for power generation.

Finally, concerning China’s unfolding revolution in sustainable agriculture, one should acknowledge, not only its adoption of green food standards and the expansion of its agricultural area under certified organic farming, but especially the fact that, as a world leader in green agriculture, it now ranks third in the list of countries with the largest agricultural area under organic farming.

China is the world’s largest country by population size and fourth largest by surface area. Combined with its excessive demographic and geographic size is the continued legacy of Western imperialism in China as a former semi-colony, whose negative effects are amplified by current Western efforts in geopolitical and geo-economic containment. This adds to China’s resource scarcity which acts as another structural adversity constraining its development potential. China possesses only 7% of the world’s arable land and freshwater resources and 8% of the world’s natural resources, even though its population represents 22% of the world’s population. Furthermore, only 19% of its surface area is suitable for human habitation and 65% of its surface area is rugged, which severely cripples China’s farming capabilities and facilitates ethnic heterogeneity as a potential impediment to political cohesion (Morton, 2006; Naughton, 2018).

Despite such adversities, China has come to develop an exemplary model of economic development that inspires much of the developing world. The 1979-2018 period testified to an average growth rate of 9.4% in the lead of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which made China the world’s second-largest economy, top producer, and the leading exporter of technological goods (Hu, 2020). By 2015, China came to assume the global production of 40% of washing machines, 50% of textiles, 60% of buttons, 70% of shoes, 80% of televisions, and 90% of toys. Recently, China has made significant progress in the production of added higher-value products in computer, aviation, and medical technology sectors, among others. Besides its historic success in economic growth, industrial production and technological development, the Chinese economic miracle is credited for 70% of global poverty eradication between 1990 and 2015 (Gardner, 2018).

The huge ecological cost of such a fast-paced and dramatic development —unprecedented in the history of human civilization— is nothing but expected. According to 2009 estimates, the annual economic cost of environmental pollution amounts to 3.8% of China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Zhang, 2014:32-48). Over 80% of China’s underground and river water resources are no longer fit for human use due to pollution (Jie, 2016). Land pollution and soil erosion are also part of China’s major environmental problems. It is common knowledge that excessive use of pesticides and industrial pollution constitute a major source of land pollution, prompting the loss of organic matter and soil erosion. 2013 estimates suggest that close to 20% of China’s cultivated farmland suffers from contamination and 38% of the soil is subjected to erosion-related loss of nutrients and organic matter (Scott et al., 2018:26; Gardner, 2018:9). Indeed, the contraction of arable land is a natural result of soil contamination and erosion. This also explains China’s over 4% loss of arable land between 1990 and 2018, from 124,481,000 to 119,488,700 hectares (FAO, 2021; Figure 1).

China being the world’s largest pesticide producer and consumer exacerbates this tendency. In the 1990- 2018 period alone, China’s pesticide use rose by 129% (FAO, 2021; see Figure 2). Furthermore, 70% of the world’s electronic waste is recycled in China at the expense of environmental and public health. Industrial pollution, environmentally detrimental recycling practices, and industrial agriculture combined to create China’s “cancer villages” (Gardner, 2018). Map 1 provides a more detailed outline of China’s major environmental problems (Sanjuan, 2018).

| | MR Online
| | MR Online
| | MR Online

Global environmental indicators provide a general picture of the environmental question’s severity in China. To elaborate, the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a popular indicator to assess the impact of national policies on the environment. EPI is made up of two major components: environmental health and ecosystem vitality. Environmental health looks at the negative impact of environmental pollution on human health as well as air and water quality and sanitation. In turn, ecosystem vitality focuses on variables such as carbon intensity, biodiversity, fish stocks, forest cover, wastewater treatment, and nitrogen balance (Environmental Performance Index, 2020a).

China’s EPI can be compared to other BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries, representative of the leading developing countries, and the United States (US), as the hegemonic leader of the capitalist-imperialist system. A comparison for the period 2010-2020 shows that China has achieved the second-largest increase in EPI scores (8.4 EPI points) after South Africa (8.5 EPI points), which testifies to China’s successful efforts at improving its environmental standing (Table 1). In the same 10-year period, India has recorded no visible improvements, while the increase in EPI scores for Brazil, Russia, and the U.S. are 4.9, 3.9 and 2.9, respectively. In the meantime, one should note that China’s 2020 standing is 120 out of all the 180 countries included in EPI. China’s 2020 score is 37.3, which outranks India with an EPI score of 27.6. However, China is outranked by Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and the U.S., whose annual scores are 51.2, 50.5, 43.1, and 69.3, respectively (Table 1). Overall, this comparison reveals that China has exhibited a strong environmental will and achieved policy success between 2010 and 2020, even though it continues to struggle with severe environmental problems (Environmental Performance Index, 2020b).

| | MR Online

Ecological footprint is another global environmental indicator. It is popularly used to assess the human impact on an environment by reference to changing natural resource demands for countries across the world. With ecological footprint, the use of ecological resources is compared with the size of biologically productive land and sea area to estimate the earth’s capacity to renew the natural resources and absorb waste (Robbins, 2007:509-10). Not surprisingly, the ecological footprint of China —as a rapidly developing country— has known a constant increase, particularly in the 2000s (Figure 3).

| | MR Online

Air pollution stands out, perhaps, as the most visible environmental strain in China, which is why it is worth supplementing our analysis of EPI and ecological footprint with what is popularly known as fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5). Available data allow us to comparatively assess the performance of the BRICS countries and the U.S. concerning the percentage of the national population exposed to PM2.5 levels exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline value. One striking fact that emerges from this comparison is the successful performance of the U.S. and Brazil, unlike China and other countries in our sample. The U.S. and Brazil’s PM2.5 performance in the period 2011-2017 declined from 46.69% and 91.93% to 3.34% and 68.14%, respectively (World Bank, 2021, Figure 4). Even though China failed to exhibit a successful performance by 2017, its post-2017 performance offers promising prospects. Recently, for example, Chinese cities used to occupy the forefront of the list of the world’s most polluted cities. Looking at the 2020 list of the fifteen most polluted cities, however, it is now being occupied by Indian and Pakistani cities. The only Chinese city that is ranked among the top fifteen polluted cities is Hotan (Earth.Org, 2021, IQAir, 2021; Zhang, 2014).

China has been undergoing a sustainable urban revolution, which extends beyond the fight against air pollution. It is striking to notice how China’s daily capacity for urban sewage treatment rose from 125 million tons to 182 million tons in the period 2010-2015. This elevates China to be among the world’s strongest capacity for urban sewage treatment (China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation, 2018). Moreover, China has greatly improved its performance in urban sustainability by prioritising green architecture and transportation. According to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system prepared by the U.S. Green Building Council, China is the world’s second leader in sustainable architecture after Canada (Long, 2015). China’s strong leadership in sustainable urbanisation can also be observed in its emergence as the world’s largest market for electric vehicles and bikes (Statista 2021; INSG 2014). As far as public transportation is concerned, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of electric buses (Technavio, 2019; Sustainable Bus, 2020; MarketsandMarkets, 2021). Furthermore, China has turned itself into the world leader in green transportation, with Beijing and Shanghai having developed the world’s longest subway systems (Nedopil Wang, 2019).

| | MR Online

Evidently, China’s world-leading environmental achievements go unnoticed due to the prevailing discourse of “ecological imperialism” in environmental politics. Ecological imperialism describes the shift of axis in global labour and natural resource exploitation to the developing world at the expense of grave human and ecological suffering. The economic and ecological burden of this axis shift is placed on the shoulders of the developing world by Western metropoles, which essentially seek to externalise the cost of production and resource extraction (Gürcan, Kahraman, & Yanmaz, 2021). Indeed, this phenomenon has been a defining feature in the entire history of capitalism. However, the dominance of neoliberalism as a global policy paradigm since the 1970s gave a new impetus to ecological imperialism, where China emerged as the main target. This being said, China has refused to be victimised by such policies and actively took advantage of the changing policy environment without fully abandoning its socialist system, albeit at grave ecological and socioeconomic costs in the medium term. In this period, China relied on the state’s strong guidance on reform and opening-up to build the “Chinese dream” of socialist welfare through gradual technology transfers and joint ventures in the longer term.

It is common knowledge that Western capitalism globalised through exploration and colonisation at the expense of grave human and ecological costs. These globalising efforts were amplified by the Industrial Revolutions, which eventually evolved into imperialist rivalries for spheres of influence and world wars. A subsequent wave of globalisation began in the 1970s as the world’s axis of production shifted to Asia, based on neoliberal policies that sought to take advantage of Asia’s cheap labour supply and other resources in the absence of strict political and environmental regulations. For some time, Western metropoles remained content with China’s accommodating policies, only until it succeeded in using the “privilege of backwardness” to consolidate its national economy rather than become a mere U.S. colony governed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Upon China’s historic economic success and the continuation of the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it seems that Western metropoles ended up developing a false sense of threat against their global hegemony, which prompted them to launch a global campaign of imperialist propaganda framing China as an environmentally irresponsible villain versus the West as the virtuous watchdog of environmental values.

This article seeks to transcend Western-centric ecological-imperialist biases toward China’s environmental policies and provide a more balanced perspective. What environmental issues occupy China’s main development agenda? How does China address these crucial issues? In what direction are China’s environmental policies evolving? The present article uses process tracing to answer these questions and argue that China has already developed a firm understanding of its environmental problems and their severity to the extent that it now frames them as a “matter of survival” and has brought these issues to the centre of its revised national security strategy, particularly under the Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping administrations. China’s strategy is predicated on an alternative proposal for “ecological civilization” (shengtai wenming, 生态文明), which may lead to the reversal of “ecological imperialism”. Particularly noticeable in this regard is China’s ongoing clean energy revolution as well as its strong leadership in green agriculture, urbanisation, and multilateral environmental cooperation. Accordingly, the present article is structured into three sections. The first focuses on the political and ideological background of China’s “ecological civilization” project and the second sheds light on China’s clean energy revolution. The article concludes with the third section on China’s achievements in green agriculture and ecological urbanisation, explaining how they are reflected in multilateral environmental cooperation.

The Political and Ideological Background of Ecological Civilization

The first uses of the term “ecological civilization” can be found in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. This term was later adopted by Qianji Ye, a Chinese agricultural economist, and brought into official use by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). In China, ecological civilization gained popularity thanks to the efforts of the Hu Jintao administration (2003-2013) (Greene, n.d.; Pan, 2016:35). In his report to the 17th National Congress of the CPC, Hu put forth the notion of “harmonious society” by reference to China’s traditional philosophical conception of harmony between humans and nature (天人合一思想) (Hu, 2007; Kitagawa, 2016a; Pan, 2016).

Hu’s (2007) conceptualisation of “harmonious society” goes beyond social equality and justice to embrace the “balance between urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, relations between man and nature, and domestic development and opening to the outside world”. Worthy of note is the degree to which this notion resonates with Mao Zedong’s ideas of “balanced development” and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, as were described in his speech “On Ten Great Relationships” (Mao, 1974).

Hu (2007) proposed a “Scientific Outlook on Development”, where harmonious society can be achieved with a sustainable development model that puts people and the environment first by mobilising science, technology, and education. According to Hu, energy conservation and sustainable development are central to improving the Chinese population’s quality of life. In this framework, Hu developed a “five-in-one” strategy (五位一体) that combines the task of economic, political, cultural, and social construction with that of ecological civilization. This strategy emphasises how ecological sustainability and other tasks complement each other. To elaborate, ecological sustainability is an essential requisite for long-term economic growth for, without it, the higher goals of social welfare and life quality cannot be attained (Kitagawa, 2016b; Pan, 2016).

Xi Jinping’s ascendancy to power furthered the strength of Hu’s emphasis on harmonious society and ecological civilization (Xi, 2018:233). In Xi’s thought, the task of building an ecological civilization constitutes the building block of the Chinese dream, i.e. “a dream of building China into a well-off society in an all-round way and… a dream to show the world China’s commitment to making a greater contribution to the peace and development of mankind” (Xi, 2018:179). As such, the CPC adopted the task of building an ecological civilization as a priority task in 2012, added it to the CPC constitution, and imported it into the Chinese constitution in 2018 (Goron, 2018:39).

Xi Jinping’s rise led to the creation of the first CCP organ specialised in sustainability: the “Task Force for the Promotion of Economic Development and Ecological Civilization”. In 2015, the CPC Politburo adopted the “Central Opinion Document on Ecological Civilization Construction” in March 2015. As part of China’s new centralised environmental inspections, over 29,000 companies were penalised with fines totalling 1.43 billion RMB (US$216 million), 1,527 individuals were detained, and 18,199 officials were subjected to disciplinary action (Goron, 2018:41). Ultimately, the 19th National Congress of the CPC held in 2017 set the goal of greening and beautifying China based on the principles of green development and ecological-civilization building (China Daily, 2017; Yang, 2018).

China started to frame the environmental question as a matter of “state survival” in the Xi Jinping era, which explains why this question occupies such a strategic place in China’s revised national security strategy. In his speech during the first meeting of the Central National Security Commission of the CPC in 2013, Xi Jinping announced China’s new “Holistic National Security Outlook”, which constitutes the backbone of China’s current national security and identifies 11 areas of priority in national security. This sustainability included: political security, homeland security, military security, economic security, cultural security, societal security, science and technology security, information security, ecological security, resource security, and nuclear security. Subsequently, China published its “Blue Book on National Security” in 2014, designated as the country’s first blue book on national security. A landmark feature of this book is how it extends the scope of national security to include environmental issues as a defining theme (Corff, 2018; Raik et al., 2018).

“Made in China 2025”, China’s new techno-industrial strategy announced in 2015, is shaped by Xi’s holistic conceptualisation of national security and identifies nine areas of priority for economic development. These include enforcing green manufacturing, improving manufacturing innovation, integration between information technology and industry, strengthening the industrial base, fostering Chinese brands, advancing restructuring of the manufacturing sector, promoting service-oriented manufacturing and manufacturing-related service industries, and internationalising manufacturing. According to the Made in China 2025 strategy, the key to success in these tasks is in strategic sectors such as “new information technology, numerical control tools and robotics, aerospace equipment, ocean engineering equipment and high-tech ships, railway equipment, energy-saving and new energy vehicles, power equipment, new materials, biological medicine and medical devices, and agricultural machinery” (Ma, et al., 2018; U.S. Department of Defense, 2020).

China’s Clean Energy Revolution in the Making

In 2009, China outranked the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer (Guo & Marinova 2014). Chinese energy consumption greatly contributes to environmental degradation and climate change. In fact, 2016 estimates suggest that China exhibits a better performance in constraining per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in comparison with the U.S., Russia, and South Africa (World Bank, 2021; Figure 5). This being said, China recorded the highest rise in per capita CO2 emissions (around 380%) in our sample for the 1980-2016 period. The U.S. and Russia are the only countries that recorded a successful decrease in per capita CO2 emissions (Figure 5). Moreover, China’s 2018 performance reveals that coal consumption accounts for the greatest share of its CO2 emissions (79.44%) as compared to the 43.7% share of coal consumption in the world’s total CO2 emissions (EIA, 2021). The second-largest share of China’s CO2 goes to oil and other liquid fuels (EIA, 2021). The remaining share concerns natural gas.

Energy intensity is an indicator that reflects per capita energy consumption. One could observe that China’s energy intensity has been rapidly increasing, particularly since 1997. The 1997-2018 period alone testified to an over 250% rise (EIA, 2021; Figure 6). Indeed, coal represents the main source of China’s energy consumption, though China’s coal production and consumption have been visibly decreasing since 2013. Between 2013-2019, China’s coal production and consumption have decreased from 4.4 and 4.7 billion short tonnes to 4.1 and 4.3 billion short tonnes, respectively. This corresponds to a 7% decline in coal production and an 8.5% decline in coal consumption (EIA, 2021; Figure 7). However, China’s oil consumption has been rising since 2013. The 2013-2019 period alone recorded a 29.5% increase (EIA, 2021; Figure 8). According to 2019 estimates, coal consumption makes up 58% of China’s energy consumption and remains its largest source. In China’s electricity production, the share of coal consumption is more than 65.3%. Oil and other liquids account for the second-largest share of China’s total energy consumption with a share of 20%. Finally, the share of hydroelectric energy and other sustainable sources of energy has reached 13% (EIA, 2021; Figure 9).

| | MR Online
| | MR Online
| | MR Online
| | MR Online

2015 estimates for the BRICS countries and the U.S. suggest that Brazil, India, and South Africa led the share of sustainable energy consumption in overall national energy consumption. Since 2011, China has increased the share of sustainable energy consumption from 11.7% to 12.4% (World Bank, 2021; Figure 10). Importantly, China is going through a clean energy revolution since adopting the 2005 Sustainable Energy Law as well as the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans covering the period 2011-2020 (Gardner 2018; Guo & Marinova, 2014; Mathews & Tan, 2015; Su & Thom- son, 2016). In as early as 2009, China became the world’s leading investor in sustainable energy technology (Guo & Marinova, 2014). In 2013, China was the top investor in clean energy with a total investment of 61.3 billion (Campbell, 2014). 2015 marked the rise of China to the status of the world’s largest producer of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power (Gardner, 2018). In the 2008-2018 period, furthermore, China’s wind and solar energy consumption rose from 3 and 0 Mtoe to 83 and 40 Mtoe, respectively. Therefore, one could deduce that the share of China’s wind and solar power in national energy consumption rose from 0.1% in 2008 to 3.7% in 2018 (BP, 2019).

| | MR Online

China’s Green Agriculture, Eco-Cities, and Multilateral Environmental Cooperation: An Unfolding Revolution

As mentioned in the introduction, agricultural pollution constitutes a major environmental problem in contemporary China. The country suffers from a scarcity of arable land being the world’s largest pesticide producer and consumer (China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation 2018:158; Scott et. al. 2018:26). With this in mind, China is currently increasing its focus on green agriculture to fight against agricultural pollution and other environmental strains. China’s agriculture area under organic agriculture rose by over 36% in the 2005-2018 period, from 2,301,300 to 3,135,000 hectares. China’s 2018 performance has even surpassed that of the other BRICS countries and the U.S. in this area (FAO, 2021; Figure 11). That being said, China has a long way to go given that its agriculture area under organic agriculture accounts for only 2.31% of its total agriculture area (FAO, 2021). However, it is worth noting that China possesses the world’s largest agriculture area under organic farming after Australia and Argentina. It is possible to argue that China has also set an example for other countries in the expansion of its certified organic agricultural land use. China’s agriculture area under certified organic agriculture soared from 10 hectares to 2,558,100 hectares from 2004-2018. Due to this, China has become the world’s largest consumer of organic food (FAO 2021; Willer, Lernoud, & Kemper, 2018).

China’s green revolution in agriculture owes much to the efforts of central and local governments at prioritising green agriculture in their overall development strategy (Scott et al., 2018:46). This also accounts for the rise of the eco-village movement in China since the late 1980s. By 1990, China created a total of 1200 “pilot eco-villages” (Liu et al., 2021; Scott et al., 2018:38-39). This number rose to 2000 by the year 2011 (Liu & Wang, 2010:107). The eco-village movement was complemented by strong policy efforts emphasising the widespread adoption of green labelling standards such as green food (lüse shipin), pollution-free food (wugonghai shipin) and organic food (youji shipin) throughout the 1990s. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a green food programme in 1990 and the China Green Food Development Centre in 1992, which assumed the task of providing the necessary technical support and quality control services to further this process (Scott et al., 2018:39-41).

| | MR Online
| | MR Online

By 2011, China had created 42 certification offices, 38 quality control terminals, and 71 environmental monitoring centres. Moreover, China’s green food programme was complemented by the Risk-Free Food Action Plan in 2001, which sought to fight chemical pollution, improve food security, and accelerate organic certification (Scott et al., 2018:39-41). Ultimately, the National Sustainable Agriculture Development Plan (2015-2030) provided a more systematic and holistic blueprint for China’s efforts in green agriculture. In 2017, No. 1 Central Document, an annual policy document issued by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council, elevated green and sustainable development to the status of the second major development goal (Scott et al., 2018:39-41).

China’s efforts in improving green agriculture and building eco-villages go hand in hand with its strategy of sustainable urbanisation (Hu, Liu, & Sun, 2017). The eco-city movement (生态城市) was launched in 2003 on the initiative of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. This initiative sought to create a model of a low-carbon and circular economy, expand green and protected zones, encourage recycling and energy conservation, promote sustainable architecture, prevent air and noise pollution, and improve social welfare and harmony in urban areas (Wang, 2018; Zhou, He, & Williams, 2012). According to research from 2009 conducted by the International Eco-Cities Initiative (IEI), only 6 out of the world’s 79 eco-cities originated from China. In the 2011 IEI survey, the number of China’s eco-cities rose to 25. Research from 2015 conducted by China identified 658 major eco-cities across the world, 284 of which originated from China. This means that more than 43% of the world’s eco-cities are currently based in China (Williams, 2017:4).

The eco-city movement also contributed to China’s efforts in improving multilateral environmental cooperation. Indicative of Chinese leadership in the global eco-city movement are the Tianjin China-Singapore Eco-City, the Sino-Dutch Shenzhen Low-Carbon City, and the Sino-French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City. Particularly, the construction of eco-industrial parks represents central instances of environmental cooperation among developing countries in the eco-city movement. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park contains green areas and lakes, whereas the Sino-Singapore Tianjin eco-city possesses systems for energy efficiency, green transportation, green architecture, sewage treatment, and recycling (China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation, 2018:161; Liu & Lo, 2021:12).

As a locomotive of multilateral environmental cooperation, China has extended its leading role to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 2009, China and ASEAN signed the Strategy on Environmental Cooperation, which later contributed to the creation of the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Centre. This was followed by the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Action Plans for 2011-2013 and 2014-2015 as well as the 2016-2020 Strategy on Environmental Cooperation. These strategies and action plans sought to improve regional efforts in research & development and eco-city construction. Also included in such efforts is the Green Silk Road Envoys Program, which sought to develop staff training, scientific exchange, and political dialogue on matters of sustainability, green innovation and entrepreneurship, biodiversity, and ecological protection (China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation, 2018:viii).

China has recently accelerated its multilateral environmental cooperation through the channel of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). The 2015 “One Belt, One Road” document pledged for the BRI to assume greater responsibility in environmental protection, biodiversity, and climate change. The BRI developed a more systematic approach to sustainability upon Xi Jinping’s 2016 call for the construction of a “green, healthy, intelligent, and peaceful” Silk Road, which led to the publication of the “Guidance on Promoting Green Belt and Road” and the implementation of the Green Action Plan and the Maritime Cooperation Vision driven by the principle of maritime protection (Simonov, 2018). As a result, the Second BRI Forum held in 2019 formulated green investment principles (Cheung & Hong, 2021).

The BRI devotes special attention to ensuring it does not impose policies on its participants and undermine their national sovereignty. The adoption of BRI’s principles on ecological civilization is left to the initiative of participant states (Ikenberry & Lim, 2017). In the Second BRI forum, BRI members were invited to join environmental initiatives such as the International Green Development Coalition, the Sustainable Cities Alliance, the South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change, the Environmental Technology Exchange and Transfer Center, the Environmental Big Data Platform, and the Green Investment Fund (Garey & Ladislaw, 2019; Iken- berry & Lim, 2017). These initiatives gained momentum in response to rising criticism on the part of civil society groups against the majority of BRI investments being transferred to carbon-driven sectors and large-scale infrastructure development at the expense of local environments (Harlan, 2021).

Coupled with BRI’s forum initiatives is green finance, which includes financial practices involving bonds that fund sustainable projects, credits that support sustainable investments, and insurance schemes for protection against environmental disasters. Chinese green investment has supported environmental initiatives such as low-carbon transportation, high-speed trains, clean energy projects, projects against environmental pollution, and clean coal investments. As such, China has risen to the status of the world’s top leader in green bonds and credits by outperforming the U.S. in 2019 (Green Belt and Road Initiative Center, 2019b, Chinadaily 2020b; Harlan 2021; Rooney 2019).

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) —as Asia’s first bank to be independent from Western hegemony and the world’s fourth-largest multilateral development bank— constitutes an important financial vehicle for BRI (Gürcan, 2020; Fahamu, n.d.; Koop, 2018). It started to operate in 2016 under China’s initiative as “the world’s first multilateral development bank (MDB) dedicated to infrastructure” (Wilson, 2017). The declared intention of the bank is to fill the “gap between supply and demand for infrastructure spending in Asia”, which was estimated at “as high as $8 trillion by 2020” (Cai, 2018). The bank’s approved projects mostly focus on the energy, water, and transportation sectors (Chen, 2019). Almost half of these projects are co-financed with other financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank (Rana, 2019; Bustillo & Andoni, 2018). In the period 2016—2017, the AIIB approved nearly $5 billion in loans, and 35 infrastructure projects with an estimated value of $28.3 billion (Cai, 2018; Chen, 2019). Unlike the World Bank, the AIIB does not impose political conditionality and does respect the sovereignty of claimant nations (Gürcan, 2020).

China’s initiative has led the AIIB to adopt a strong stand on ecological civilization. In 2016, the AIIB adopted the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF), which encourages financed development projects to target social and environmental sustainability in tandem, including green economy, gender equality, and labor rights. As regards environmental sustainability, the ESF places a strong emphasis on balanced development, decreasing fossil fuel consumption, environmental resilience, energy conservation, and biodiversity (Gabusi, 2019). In its second annual meeting held in South Korea in 2016, the AIIB adopted the Sustainable Energy for Asia Strategy and approved its first loan for a project that seeks to reduce coal use in China. The AIIB’s fourth meeting was held in Luxembourg in 2019, where the bank reiterated its commitment to supporting green economy (Altay & Zeynepcan, 2020). The AIIB’s new funds that target social and environmental sustainability include “the $75 million Tata Cleantech Sustainable Infrastructure On-Lending Facility (India), US$75 million Asia Investment Fund (Asia-wide), US$100 million L&T Green Infrastructure On-Lending Facility to finance wind and solar energy projects (India), US$200 million TSKB Sustainable Energy and Infrastructure On-Lending Facility (Turkey), and US$150 million to the India Infrastructure Fund to finance infrastructure projects including renewable energy (India)… [as well as] a US$500 million AIIB Asia ESG Enhanced Credit Managed Portfolio (Asia-wide) with Aberdeen Standard Investments, to partner on developing debt capital markets for infrastructure… [and the] US$ 500 million fund, the Asia Climate Bond Portfolio, to accelerate climate action in the Bank’s members, and spur the development of the climate bond market.” (Vazquez & Chin, 2019: 598) Besides energy and infrastructure, the AIIB’s green framework extends to sustainable urbanization, green transportation, and rural sustainability. These efforts are clearly exemplified in a US$329 million loan for India’s Gujarat Rural Roads Project, a US$335 million loan for India’s Metro Line Project, a US$140 million loan for India’s Madhya Pradesh Rural Connectivity Project, a US$445 million loan for India’s Andhra Pradesh Rural Roads Project, a US$40 million loan for Laos’ National Road 13 Improvement and Maintenance Project, a US$216.5 million loan for Indonesia’s National Slum Upgrading Project, a US$270.6 million loan for the Philippines’ Metro Manila Flood Management Project, a US$400 million loan for India’s Andhra Pradesh Urban Water Supply and Septage Management Improvement Project, a US$200 million loan for Sri Lanka’s Colombo Urban Regeneration Project, and a US$100 million loan for Bangladesh’s Municipal Water Supply and Sanitation Project (Vazquez & Chin, 2019).

Finally, a word of caution: it is too early to estimate the future of the AIIB and BRI’s contributions to ecological civilization, given that the Green Silk Road project was only put into action in 2019, whilst the AIIB started to operate in 2016. However, there is room for optimism considering that China has already become a leading country in multilateral environmental cooperation. The AIIB’s strategy on social and environmental sustainability has already been put into practice through green funds implemented in several Asian countries. Furthermore, China’s green investments as part of the BRI have gained momentum since 2016. Cases include China’s increasing investments in Vietnam’s solar panels, its leading role in establishing the Quaid e-Azam Solar Park and the Jhimpir Wind Farm in Pakistan, the Aisha Wind Farm and Wolayita Sodo Power Transmission Line in Ethiopia, and other similar projects in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia (Chernysheva et al., 2019).

Review and Discussion

As a strong expression of ecological imperialism, prompted by neoliberal globalisation and the Third Industrial Revolution, Western metropoles initiated the shift in axis for global production to Asia. This enabled Western metropoles to take advantage of cheap labour supplies and access natural resources in the absence of strict environmental regulations (Gürcan, Kahraman & Yanmaz, 2021). China was the main target of these pillaging efforts. However, it managed to benefit from these neoliberal assaults by utilising public-driven policies, which, despite a number of liberal compromises, served to protect itself from becoming a neo-colony. Public-driven policies also served to build a strong economy driven by national interests, thus generating grave concerns for Western metropoles whose global hegemony was challenged. As a result, Western metropoles now resort to an ecological-imperialist campaign that blames environmental degradation on developing countries, particularly China, whose leading environmental efforts —as the locomotive of global welfare and the greatest enemy of global poverty— are often undermined by this Western-centric campaign.

China has developed a firm awareness of its environmental problems, which are realised in its revised national security strategy that incorporates the concept of “ecological civilization”. China is in the early stages of building an ecological civilization and still has a long way to go before it reaches a high level of ecological development. Perhaps the most immediate threat to ecological civilization stems from the growing aggression of U.S. imperialism in the form of geopolitical containment strategies, techno-economic wars against China, and other factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic such as Western-fueled Sinophobia and pandemic-related economic strains (Gürcan, 2019; Gürcan, Kahraman & Yanmaz, 2021). Nevertheless, China’s key achievements on the path towards ecological civilization involve a series of three unfolding and mutually conditioning revolutionary processes that also lead the way in international environmental cooperation, as embodied in China’s role in ASEAN, the AIIB, and the Green Silk Road. They include a clean energy revolution, a sustainable agricultural revolution, and a green urban revolution.

China has already become a global leader in green finance. It leads the eco-city movement with over 43% of the world’s eco-cities being Chinese and is the second leader in sustainable architecture, next to Canada. Many Chinese cities have dropped down or out of the list of the most polluted cities, leaving India and Pakistan at the top. China’s cities have also joined the ranks of those with the strongest sewage treatment capacity in the world. Another point worth mentioning is that China has the most electric vehicles, bikes, and efficient public transportation. China is considered, not only as the world’s centre of electric bus production and consumption but also as having cities with the world’s longest subway systems. From 2013 onwards, the share of coal in China’s total energy consumption has seen a noticeable decline, accompanied by the increasing share of renewable resources in total energy consumption as a result of conscious efforts at a clean energy revolution. Key to this revolution in the making is China’s strong reputation as the world’s top investor in clean energy. As such, it has succeeded in creating the world’s largest wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems for power generation. Finally, concerning China’s unfolding revolution in sustainable agriculture, one should acknowledge its adoption of green food standards, the expansion of its agricultural area under certified organic farming, and especially the fact that, as a world leader in green agriculture, it now has the third-largest agricultural area under organic farming. Ultimately, the continuation and amplification of all these achievements are predicated on the future determination of the Xi Jinping administration (and its successors) to build ecological civilization while facing imperialist aggression.


Altay, A., & Zeycepcan A. (2020). China’s Relationship with the Liberal International Order: The Case of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Ban. Marmara University Journal of Political Science. doi: 10.14782/marmarasbd.

BP. (2019). China’s Energy Market in 2018. BP Statistical Review.

Bustillo, R., Andoni, M. (2018). China, the EU and Multilateralism: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Revista Brasileira de Politica Internacional, 61(1): 1—19.

Cai, K G. (2018). The One Belt One Road and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Beijing’s New Strategy of Geoeconomics and Geopolitics. Journal of Contemporary China, 27(114): 831—847.

Campbell, R. J. (2014). China and the United States: A Comparison of Green Energy Programs and Policies. R41748. Congressional Research Service.

Chen, I. T. (2019). China’s Status Deficit and the Debut of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The Pacific Review, 1—31: 697—727.

China Daily. (2017). Full Text of Xi Jinping’s Report at 19th CPC National Congress. Retrieved from https://www.chinadaily. tent_34115212.htm

China Daily. (2020). Green Finance in China: Enabling a Sustainable Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.chinadaily.

Chernysheva, N. A., Perskaya, V. V., Petrov, A. M., & Bakulina, A. A. (2019). Green Energy for Belt and Road Initiative: Economic Aspects Today and in the Future. International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy 9(5):178-85.

Cheung, F. M., & Hong, Y. (Eds.). (2021). Green Finance, Sustainable Development and the Belt and Road Initiative. London: Routledge.

China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation. (2018). China-ASEAN Environment Outlook 1 (CAEO-1): Towards Green Development. Singapore: Springer.

Corff, O. (2018). Rich Country, Strong Army”: China’s Comprehensive National Security. Federal Academy for Security Policy.

Earth.Org. (2021). 15 Most Polluted Cities in the World. Retrieved from

EIA. (2021). Database. Retrieved from

Environmental Performance Index. (2020a). Global Metrics for the Environment: Ranking Country Performance on Sustainability Issues. Retrieved from report/global-metrics-environment-environmental-performance-index-ranks-countries).

Environmental Performance Index. (2020b). China | Environmental Performance Index. Retrieved from

Fahamu. (n.d.). 57 nations approved as founder members of China-led AIIB. Retrieved from,%2C%20France%2C%20Germany%20and%20Spain

FAO. (2021). Database. Retrieved from

Gabusi, G. (2019). Global Standards in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: The Contribution of the European Members.

Gardner, D. K. (2018). Environmental Pollution in China: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford University Press.

Garey, L., & Ladislaw, S. (20199. Chinese Multilateralism and the Promise of a Green Belt and Road. CSIS Briefs. Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Goron, C. (2018). Ecological Civilization and the Political Limits of a Chinese Concept of Sustainability. China Perspectives, (4):39-52. doi: 10.4000/chinaperspectives.8463.

Green Belt and Road Initiative Center. (2019). Green Finance. Retrieved from

Greene, H. (n.d.). Ecological Civilization and the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Center for Ecozoic Studies. Retrieved from views/ecological-civilization-19th-national-congress-communist-party-china/

Guo, X., & Marinova, D. (2014). Environmental Protection and Sustainability Strategies in China: Towards a Green Economy. In S. Yao & M. J. Herrerias, (ed.) Energy Security and Sustainable Economic Growth in China, pp. 286-301. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gürcan, E. C. (2019). Multipolarization, south-south cooperation and the rise of post-hegemonic governance. New York: Routledge.

Gürcan, E. C. (2020). The construction of “post-hegemonic multipolarity” in Eurasia: A comparative perspective, The Japanese Political Economy, 46(2-3), 127-151. doi: 10.1080/2329194X.2020.1839911

Gürcan, E. C., Kahraman, Ö. E. & Yanmaz, S. (2021). COVID-19 and the Future of Capitalism: Postcapitalist Horizons Beyond Neo-Liberalism. Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.

Harlan, T. (2021). Green Development or Greenwashing? A Political Ecology Perspective on China’s Green Belt and Road. Eurasian Geography and Economics 62(2):202-26. doi: 10.1080/15387216.2020.1795700.

Hu, J. (2007). Hu Jintao’s report at 17th Party Congress. China Daily. Retrieved from

Hu, W., Liu, J. & Sun, W. (ed.). (2017). The Development of Eco Cities in China. Singapore: Springer.

Hu, X. (2020). Forecast of China’s Average Annual Economic Growth Rate Based on BP Neural Network. J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 1629 012040.

Ikenberry, G. J., & Lim, D. J. (2017). China’s Emerging Institutional Statecraft: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Prospects for Counter-Hegemony. Brookings.

INSG. (2014). The Global E-bike Market. Briefing Paper. 23. IQAir. (2021). World’s Most Polluted Cities in 2020—PM2.5 Ranking | AirVisual. Retrieved from

Jie, S. (2016). Groundwater 80% Polluted. Global Times. Retrieved from

Kitagawa, H. (ed.). (2016a). Environmental Policy and Governance in China. New York: Springer.

Kitagawa, H. (2016b). Environmental Policy Under President Xi Jinping Leadership: The Changing Environmental Norms. In H. Kitagawa, (ed.), Environmental policy and governance in China, pp. 1-15. New York: Springer.

Koop, F. (2018). Explainer: Latin America and the AIIB. Diálogo Chino. Retrieved from vestment/39049-explainer-latin-america-aiib-the-asian-infrastructure-investment-bank/

Liu, C., Wang, F., Gao, X. & Smith, H. (2021). Exploring Solutions to Improve the Evaluation of Development of Rural Villages: A Case Study of the Application of the Evaluation for the Construction of Beautiful Villages (ECBV) in a Village in South China. Sustainability 13(2):1-23.

Liu, J., & Wang, J. (2010). China’s Environment. Beijing: China International Press.

Liu, M., & Lo, K. (2021). Governing Eco-Cities in China: Urban Climate Experimentation, International Cooperation, and Multilevel Governance. Geoforum, (121), 12-22. doi: 10.1016/j. geoforum.2021.02.017.

Long, M. (2015). USGBC Announces International Rankings of Top 10 Countries for LEED Green Building | U.S. Green Building Council. USGBC. Retrieved from articles/usgbc-announces-international-rankings-top-10-coun- tries-leed-green-building

Ma, H., et al. (2018). Strategic Plan of Made in China 2025 and Its Implementations. Analysing the Impacts of Industry 4.0 in Modern Business Environments, pp. 1-23. Singapore: IGI Global.

Mao, Z. (1974). Mao Tse-Tung Unrehearsed: Talks and Letters, 1956-71. S. R. Schram, (Ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Markets and Markets. (2021). Electric Bus Market by Propulsion (BEV, PHEV & FCEV), Application (Intercity & Intra-City), Consumer Segment (Fleet Operators & Government), Range, Length of Bus, Power Output, Battery Capacity, Component, Battery Type & Region—Global Forecast to 2027. Retrieved from

Mathews, J. A., & Tan, H. (2015). China’s Renewable Energy Revolution. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Morton, K. (2006). International Aid and China’s Environment: Taming the Yellow Dragon. London: Routledge.

Naughton, B.J. (2018). The Chinese Economy: Adaptation and Growth(second edition). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Nedopil Wang, C. (2019). Green Public Transport Innovation in China: An Opportunity for BRI Countries. Green Belt and Road Initiative Center. Retrieved from green-public-transport-innovation-in-china-an-opportunity-for-bri-countries/

Pan, J. (2016). China’s Environmental Governing and Ecological Civilization. Heidelberg: Springer.

Raik, K., Aaltola, M., Kallio, J., & Pynnöniemi, K. (2018). The Security Strategies of the U.S., China, Russia and the EU: Living in Different Worlds. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Rana, R. (2019), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank and the

Reshaping of Global Economic Order: Unfolding Trends and Perceptions in Sino-Indian

Economic Relations, International Journal of China Studies, 10 (2):273—290.

Robbins, P. (ed.). (2007). Encyclopedia of Environment and Society. London: SAGE.

Rooney, K. (2019). These Countries Are Leading the Way in Green Finance. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.

Sanjuan, T. (2018). Atlas de la Chine: Les Nouvelles Échelles de la Puissance. Paris: Autrement.

Scott, S., Si, Z., Schumilas, T., & Chen, A. (2018). Organic Food and Farming in China: Top-down and Bottom-up Ecological Initiatives. New York: Routledge.

Simonov, E. A. (2018). Greening The New Silk Road: Mission Possible? 3. Rivers Without Boundaries. doi: 10.13140/ RG.2.2.23726.20806.

Su, B., & Thomson, E. (Eds.). (2016). China’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation: Sectoral Analysis. Singapore: Springer.

Sustainable Bus. (2020). Electric Bus, Main Fleets and Projects Around the World. Retrieved from fleets-projects-around-world/

Statista. (2021). Production of Electric Vehicles: Selected Countries. Retrieved from

Technavio. (2019). Electric Buses in China: Largest Electric Bus Market 2019 | Global Electric Bus Market Report. Retrieved from largest-electric-bus-market

U.S. Department of Defense. (2020). Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020. Retrieved from https://media. CHINA-MILITARY-POWER-REPORT-FINAL.PDF

Wang, X. (2018). Tomorrow’s Eco-City in China: Improving Eco-City Development Though a Culture of Collaborative Communication. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of Liverpool, School of Environmental Science Department of Geography and Planning.

Willer, H., Lernoud, J. & Kemper, L. (2018). The World of Organic Agriculture 2018: Summary. FiBL & IFOAM. Retrieved from of-organic-summary.pdf.

Williams, A. (2017). China’s Urban Revolution: Understanding Chinese Eco-Cities. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Wilson, J. D. (2017). What Does China Want from the Asian Infrastructure Investment

Bank? Indo-Pacific Insight Series, Perth U.S. Asia Centre.

World Bank. (2021). Database. Retrieved from

Xi, J. (2018). The Governance of China (I). C. 1. Pekin: Beijing Book Co. Inc.

Vazquez, K. C., & Chin, G. T. (2019). The AIIB and Sustainable Infrastructure: A Hybrid Layered Approach. Global Policy, 10(4), 593-603.

Yang, J. (2018). Construction of “Beautiful Village” Landscapes from the Perspective of Ecological Civilization: A Case Study of Zizhulin Village in Yanshan County. Journal of Landscape Research, 10(4),120-22. doi: 10.16785/j.issn1943-989x.2018.4.027.

Zhang, J. (2014). Foreign Direct Investment: Regional Dimensions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zhou, N., He, G., & Williams, C. (2012). China’s Development of Low-Carbon Eco-Cities and Associated Indicator Systems. LBNL-5873E, 1172952. U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

MRonline, November 29, 2022,

French ambassador: U.S. ‘rules-based order’ means Western domination, violating international law / by Ben Norton

France’s Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud with President Barack Obama in the White House in 2016

Originally published in Multipolarista on November 21, 2022

France’s former ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, has publicly criticized Washington, saying it frequently violates international law and that its so-called “rules-based order” is actually an unfair “Western order.”

The top French diplomat warned that the United States is engaged in “economic warfare” against China, and that Europe is concerned about Washington’s “containment policy,” because many European countries do not want to be forced to “choose a camp” in a new cold war.

Araud condemned U.S. diplomats for insisting that Washington must always be the “leader” of the world, and stressed that the West should work with other countries in the Global South, “on an equal basis,” in order “to find a compromise with our own interests.”

He cautioned against making “maximalist” demands, “of simply trying to keep the Western hegemony.”

Araud made these remarks in a November 14 panel discussion titled “Is America Ready for a Multipolar World?“, hosted by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank in Washington, DC that advocates for a more restrained, less bellicose foreign policy.

Gérard Araud’s credentials could hardly be any more elite. A retired senior French diplomat, he served as the country’s ambassador to the United States from 2014 to 2019. From 2009 to 2014, he was Paris’ representative to the United Nations.

Before that, Araud served as France’s ambassador to Israel, and he previously worked with NATO.

He was also appointed as a “senior distinguished fellow” at the Atlantic Council, NATO’s notoriously belligerent think tank in Washington.

This blue-blooded background makes Araud’s frank comments even more important, as they reflect the feelings of a segment of the French ruling class and European political class, which is uncomfortable with Washington’s unipolar domination and wants power to be more decentralized in the world.

The ‘rules-based order’ is actually just a ‘Western order’

In a shockingly blunt moment in the panel discussion, Gérard Araud explained that the so-called “rules-based order” is actually just a “Western order,” and that the United States and Europe unfairly dominate international organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF):

To be frank, I’ve always been extremely skeptical about this idea of a ‘rules-based order.’

Personally, for instance, look, I was the permanent representative to the United Nations. We love the United Nations, but the Americans not too much, you know.

And actually when you look at the hierarchy of the United Nations, everybody there is ours. The Secretary General [António Guterres] is Portuguese. He was South Korean [Ban Ki-moon]. But when you look at all the under secretaries general, all of them really are either American, French, British, and so on. When you look at the World Bank, when you look at the IMF, and so on.

So that’s the first element: this order is our order.

And the second element is also that, actually, this order is reflecting the balance of power in 1945. You know, you look at the permanent members of the Security Council.

Really people forget that, if China and Russia are obliged to oppose [with] their veto, it is because frankly the Security Council is most of the time, 95% of the time, has a Western-oriented majority.

So this order frankly–and you can also be sarcastic, because, when the Americans basically want to do whatever they want, including when it’s against international law, as they define it, they do it.

And that’s the vision that the rest of the world has of this order.

You know really, when I was in–the United Nations is a fascinating spot, because you have ambassadors of all the countries, and you can have conversations with them, and the vision they project of the world, their vision of the world, is certainly not a ‘rules-based order’; it’s a Western order.

And they accuse us of double standards, hypocrisy, and so on and so on.

So I’m not sure that this question about the ‘rules’ is really the critical question.

I think the first assessment that we should do will be maybe, as we say in French, to put ourselves in the shoes of the other side, to try to understand how they see the world.

Araud argued that if the international community is serious about creating a “rules-based order,” it must entail “integrating all the major stakeholders into the managing of the world, you know really bringing the Chinese, the Indians, and really other countries, and trying to build with them, on an equal basis, the world of tomorrow.”

“That’s the only way,” he added. “We should really ask the Indians, ask the Chinese, the Brazilians, and other countries, really to work with us on an equal basis. And that’s something – it’s not only the Americans, also the Westerners, you know, really trying to get out of our moral high ground, and to understand that they have their own interests, that on some issues we should work together, on other issues we shouldn’t work together.”

“Let’s not try to rebuild the Fortress West,” he implored. “It shouldn’t be the future of our foreign policy.”

French diplomat criticizes U.S. new cold war on China

Gérard Araud revealed that, in Europe, there is “concern” that the United States has a “containment policy” against China.

“I think the international relationship will be largely dominated by the rivalry between China and the United States. And foreign policy I think in the coming years will be to find the modus vivendi … between the two powers,” he said.

He warned that Washington is engaged in “economic warfare” against Beijing, that the U.S. is trying “basically to cut any relationship with China in the field of advanced chips, which is sending a message of, ‘We are going to try to prevent you from becoming an advanced economy.’ It’s really, it’s economic warfare.”

“Really on the American side is the development of economic warfare against China. It’s really cutting, making impossible cooperation in a very important, critical field, for the future of the Chinese economy,” he added.

Araud pointed out that China is not just “emerging”; it is in fact “re-emerging” to a prominent geopolitical position, like it had for hundreds of years, before the rise of European colonialism.

He stressed that many countries in Asia don’t want to be forced to pick a side in this new cold war, and are afraid of becoming a zone of proxy conflicts like Europe was in the first cold war:

Asia doesn’t want to be the Europe of the Cold War. They don’t want to have a bamboo curtain. They don’t want to choose their camp.

Australia has chosen its camp, but it’s a particular case. But Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, they don’t want to choose their camp, and we shouldn’t demand they choose their camp.

So we need to have a flexible policy of talking to the Chinese, because talking is also a way of reassuring them, trying to understand their interests, also to define our interests not in a maximalist way, of simply trying to keep the Western hegemony.

Araud challenged the idea that the United States must be the unipolar “leader” of the world, stating:

The Americans entered the world, in a sense, being already the big boy on the block. In 1945, it was 40% of the world’s GDP.

Which also may explain what is American diplomacy. The word of American diplomats, the word of American diplomacy is ‘leadership.’

Really, it’s always striking for foreigners, as soon as there is a debate about American foreign policy, immediately people say, ‘We have to restore our leadership.’ Leadership. And other countries may say, ‘Why leadership?’

West must ‘try to see the world from Beijing’

Gérard Araud similarly criticized Western media outlets for their cartoonishly negative coverage of China. The top French diplomat called on officials to “try to see the world from Beijing”:

When you look at the European or Western newspapers, you have the impression that China is a sort of a dark monster which is moving forward, never committing a mistake, never really facing any problem, and going to the domination of the world–you know, the Chinese work 20 hours a day, they don’t want a vacation, they don’t care, they want to dominate the world.

Maybe that if we will try to see the world from Beijing, really we will consider certainly that all the borders of China are more or less unstable, or threatened, or facing unfriendly countries, and that’s from the Chinese point of view.

Maybe they want to improve their situation. It doesn’t mean that we have to accept it, but maybe to see, to remember, that any defensive measure of one side is always seen as offensive by the other side.

So let’s understand that China has its own interests. You know, even dictatorships have legitimate interests. And so let’s look at these interests, and let’s try to find a compromise with our own interests.

Araud went on to point out that the U.S. government is constantly militarily threatening China, sending warships across the planet to its coasts, but would never for a second tolerate Beijing doing the same to it:

When I was in Washington, just after the [hawkish anti-China] speech of Vice President Pence to the Hudson [Institute] in October 2018, I met a lot of specialists on China in Washington, DC, but when I was trying to tell them, you know, your [U.S.] ships are patrolling at 200 miles from the Chinese coast, at 5000 miles from the American coast, what would be your reaction if Chinese ships were patrolling at 200 miles from your coast?

And obviously my interlocutors didn’t understand what I meant. And that’s the question, you know, really trying to figure out what are the reasonable interests of the other side.

Araud stressed that China “is not a military threat” to the West.

French diplomat: Western sanctions on Russia are causing us to ‘inflict pain on ourselves’

With this new cold war between the United States and China, Gérard Araud explained, “in this context, Russia is a bit like Austria-Hungary with Germany before the First World War, is a bit doomed to be the ‘brilliant second’ of China.”

While Araud harshly denounced Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, he also criticized the Western sanctions on Moscow, which he cautioned, “on the European side, it is inflicting to ourselves some pain.”

He warned that Europe is in a “dead end” with Russia, “because as long as the war in Ukraine will go on, and my bet unfortunately is that it may go on for a long time, it will be impossible for the Europeans, and the Americans in a sense, but also for the Europeans to end the sanctions on Russia, which means that our relationship with Russia may be frozen for an indefinite future.”

“And I think it’s very difficult to have diplomatic activity [with Russia] in this situation,” he added.

You can watch the full panel discussion hosted by the Quincy Institute below:

MRonline, November 23, 2022,

U.S. media searched for crisis at China Party Congress / by Eric Horowitz

The New York Times (10/27/22) invited readers to scrutinize video of a 79-year-old retiree being escorted from a meeting for signs that he was “purged”—a conjecture that the Times otherwise provides no evidence for.

For the Western press, the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party offered a number of signals which—if read in good faith—could have been perceived as reassuring.

Instead, establishment outlets reverted to familiar narratives regarding China’s Covid mitigation strategy and tied these into renewed predictions of a long-prophesied economic disaster—one that would inevitably befall China as a result of its government’s decision to forsake the orthodoxy of open markets.

More than anything else, corporate media fixated on Hu Jintao’s departure from the congress hall, engaging in tabloid-variety speculation around the fate of CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s 79-year-old predecessor.

SCMP (10/16/22): “Analysts said Xi’s remarks suggested that Beijing was exercising restraint on Taiwan, despite the soaring tensions.”

SCMP (10/16/22): “Analysts said Xi’s remarks suggested that Beijing was exercising restraint on Taiwan, despite the soaring tensions.”

Invoking the specter of a purge, outlets like the New York Times and CNN pushed the narrative that Xi manipulated events to consolidate his power. However, the “evidence” used by corporate media to suggest that Xi orchestrated Hu’s exit as part of a power grab was far from convincing.

| SCMP 101622 Analysts said Xis remarks suggested that Beijing was exercising restraint on Taiwan despite the soaring tensions | MR Online

Substantive developments

If establishment outlets covering the congress were on the lookout for substantive developments—rather than additional fodder to comport with their prefabricated narratives—they could have found them.

Despite the Biden administration’s belligerent posture vis-à-vis Taiwan, demonstrated by escalations like Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island and Biden’s own promise to deploy U.S. forces in the event of a forced reunification, Xi indicated that China would continue to approach cross-strait relations with restraint.

Of Xi’s relatively measured statements on reunification, Sung Wen-ti, a political scientist at the Australian National University (Guardian10/16/22), said, “The lack of ‘hows’ is a sign he wants to preserve policy flexibility and doesn’t want to irreversibly commit to a particularly adversarial path.” Lim John Chuan-tiong, a former researcher at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica (SCMP10/16/22), deemed Xi’s message to the Taiwanese people “balanced and not combative.” This sounds like good news for everyone who wants to avoid a potential nuclear war.

In addition, Xi’s opening report to the congress placed particular emphasis on the task of combating climate change. The section titled “Pursuing Green Development and Promoting Harmony between Humanity and Nature” presented a four-part framework to guide China’s policy efforts in this area. Even the avidly pro-Western Atlantic Council had to admit that “China is showing its leadership in green development in a number of ways.”

Since China is home to one-fifth of the global population, and is currently the most prolific CO2-emitting country on Earth, its government’s decision to prioritize a comprehensive response to the climate crisis seems like an unambiguously positive development.

The congress even provided some encouraging news for those who claim to care about human rights. In a surprise move, Chen Quanguo, who was hit with U.S. sanctions for his hardline approach as party secretary in both Tibet and Xinjiang, was ousted from the central committee.

The New York Times (10/16/22) refers to the “idea” that China’s zero Covid policies “have saved lives”—as though it’s possible that China could have allowed the coronavirus to spread throughout its population without killing anyone.

The New York Times (10/16/22) refers to the “idea” that China’s zero Covid policies “have saved lives”—as though it’s possible that China could have allowed the coronavirus to spread throughout its population without killing anyone.

But U.S. corporate media generally failed to highlight these developments as positive news. In fact, with the exception of some coverage of Xi’s statements on Taiwan—which largely misrepresented China’s posture as more threatening than a good-faith reading would indicate—US news outlets had remarkably little to say about the substance of any news coming out of the congress.

Recycled narratives

As FAIR (3/24/201/29/219/9/22) has pointed out at various points in the pandemic, corporate media—seemingly disturbed by China’s unwillingness to sacrifice millions of lives at the altar of economic growth—have been almost uniformly critical of the Chinese government’s Covid mitigation strategy.

Indeed, establishment outlets have persistently demonized the “zero-Covid” policy despite its successes—in terms of both lives saved and economic development. After Xi indicated to the congress that China would continue along this path, corporate media were predictably dismayed.

Returning to its familiar line that, contrary to evidence, China’s decision to prioritize public health would ravage its economy, the New York Times (10/16/22) reported:

Mr. Xi argued that the Communist Party had waged an “all out people’s war to stop the spread of the virus.” China’s leadership has done everything it can to protect people’s health, he said, putting “the people and their lives above all else.” He made no mention of how the stringent measures were holding back economic growth and frustrating residents.

The article went on to quote Jude Blanchette, a “China expert” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), who declared, “There is nothing positive or aspirational about zero Covid.” That CSIS would disseminate such a narrative—with the assistance of the reliably hawkish Times—is unsurprising, since the think tank’s chief patrons share a common interest in vilifying China.

CSIS’s roster of major donors includes military contractors Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as well as a litany of oil and gas companies—all of whom derive financial benefit from America’s military build-up in the Pacific.

CNN (10/17/22) reported that “experts are concerned that Xi offered no signs of moving away from the country’s rigid zero-Covid policy or its tight regulatory stance on various businesses, both of which have hampered growth in the world’s second-largest economy.” CNN‘s experts don’t point out that China’s economy has grown 9% since 2019, when Covid struck, vs. 2% for the US.

CSIS has also received millions of dollars from the governments of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Sitting on its board of trustees are Phebe Novakovic, chair and CEO of General Dynamics, and Leon Panetta who—as Defense secretary in the Obama administration—helped craft the DOD’s “pivot to Asia.”

‘No to market reforms’

In “Xi Jinping’s Speech: Yes to Zero Covid, No to Market Reforms?” CNN (10/17/22) framed Xi’s statement that China would not allow the deadly coronavirus to spread freely across its population as part of a broader rejection of liberalized markets by the CCP.

Aside from the obvious shortcomings of a framework that evaluates public health policy on the basis of its relationship to economic growth, CNN presented the opening of Chinese markets to foreign capital as an objective good—the forsaking of which would bode poorly for China’s economic prospects.

While China’s “reform and opening-up” has been immensely profitable for corporations—as evidenced in media coverage (Forbes10/24/22NYT11/7/22) of global markets’ uneasiness over Xi’s alleged “return to Marxism”—its impact on Chinese workers has been uneven, to say the least. Living standards have improved generally, but labor conditions remain poor and inequality is growing.

Like the TimesCNN went the think tank route to support its thesis, quoting Craig Singleton—senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD):

Yesterday’s speech confirms what many China watchers have long suspected—Xi has no intention of embracing market liberalization or relaxing China’s zero-Covid policies, at least not anytime soon…. Instead, he intends to double down on policies geared towards security and self-reliance at the expense of China’s long-term economic growth.

Despite the fact that China watchers have, for as long as one can remember, predicted a collapse of China’s economy that has yet to materialize, corporate media keep on returning to that same old well.

For its part, FDD—to which CNN attached the inconspicuous label of “DC-based think tank”—is a neoconservative advocacy group that has an ax to grind with China. The chairman of FDD’s China Program is Matt Pottinger, former deputy national security advisor to Donald Trump.

CNN (10/17/22) reported that “experts are concerned that Xi offered no signs of moving away from the country’s rigid zero-Covid policy or its tight regulatory stance on various businesses, both of which have hampered growth in the world’s second-largest economy.” CNN‘s experts don’t point out that China’s economy has grown 9% since 2019, when Covid struck, vs. 2% for the US.

The New York Times (10/27/22) invited readers to scrutinize video of a 79-year-old retiree being escorted from a meeting for signs that he was “purged”—a conjecture that the Times otherwise provides no evidence for.

Early on in the pandemic, a Washington Post profile (4/29/20) of Pottinger stated that he “believes Beijing’s handling of the virus has been ‘catastrophic’ and ‘the whole world is the collateral damage of China’s internal governance problems.’” The article quoted Trump’s second national security advisor, H.R. McMaster—who is also currently employed as a “China expert” at FDD—as calling Pottinger “central to the biggest shift in U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War, which is the competitive approach to China.”

Desperate search for a purge

If consumers of corporate media only encountered one story about the congress, it probably had something to do with this seemingly innocuous development: During the congress’s closing session, aides escorted Hu Jintao—Xi’s predecessor as China’s paramount leader—out of the Great Hall of the People.

Later that day, Xinhua, China’s state news agency, said that Hu’s departure was health related. This explanation isn’t exactly far-fetched, since the 79-year-old Hu has long been said to be suffering from an illness—as early as 2012, some observers posited that the then-outgoing leader had Parkinson’s disease.

Since the whole episode was caught on camera, however, corporate media were not satisfied with China’s mundane account of events. Instead, establishment outlets seized the moment and transformed Hu’s departure into a dramatic spectacle, laden with sinister connotations. The speculation that followed was almost obsessive in nature.

In a piece titled “What Happened to Hu Jintao,” the New York Times (10/27/22) resorted to a form of video and image analysis one would typically expect from the most committed conspiracy theorist. Despite conceding that “it’s far from evident that Mr. Hu’s exit was planned, and many analysts have warned against drawing assumptions,” the Times went on to do just that.

The article centered on nine video clips and three stills, providing a moment-by-moment breakdown of Hu’s exit from various angles and zoom levels. Some images even included Monday Night Football—style telestrator circles, which surrounded the heads of certain CCP cadres like halos in a Renaissance painting.

In reference to the haloed party figures whose “expressions did not change” as Hu was escorted away, the Times quoted Wu Guoguang, a professor at Canada’s University of Victoria:

Here was Hu Jintao, the former highest leader of your party and a man who had given so many of you political opportunities. And how do you treat him now?… This incident demonstrated the tragic reality of Chinese politics and the fundamental lack of human decency in the Communist Party.

While noting that Wu “said he did not want to speculate about what had unfolded,” the Times evidently did not consider this statement of caution as being at odds with his subsequent use of Hu’s departure to condemn the CCP in the broadest possible terms.

Indeed, the paper of record saw no problem with attributing the failure of Hu’s colleagues to react in a more appropriate manner—whatever that may have been—to “the tragic reality of Chinese politics” and a “fundamental lack of human decency” on the part of the CCP.

Here was a microcosm of corporate media’s contradictory approach to the episode: a professed reluctance to engage in conjecture, persistently negated by an overwhelming eagerness to cast aspersions. In line with this tack, the Times resorted to innuendo by posing a hypothetical question:

Was Mr. Hu, 79, suffering from poor health, as Chinese state media would later report? Or was he being purged in a dramatic show by China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, for the world to see?

The New York Times (10/27/22) invited readers to scrutinize video of a 79-year-old retiree being escorted from a meeting for signs that he was “purged”—a conjecture that the Times otherwise provides no evidence for.

The Wall Street Journal (10/27/22) subjected Hu’s exit to the kind of analysis usually done in movies with photos linked by string on a basement wall.

Rather than asserting outright that Hu was the victim of a purge, the Times advanced this familiar red-scare narrative by including two photographs from the Cultural Revolution—one of which depicts Xi’s father being subjected to humiliation during a struggle session. With these images, the Times coaxed readers into making a spurious connection between Hu’s exit and the political repressions of yesteryear.

Unfazed by lack of evidence

The same day as the Times released its “analysis,” the Wall Street Journal (10/27/22) published a similar piece under the headline “Hu Jintao’s Removal From China’s Party Congress, a Frame-by-Frame Breakdown.”

Short on substance, since there was no actual evidence to suggest that the 79-year-old—who hasn’t held power for a decade and has never even been rumored to oppose Xi—was being purged or publicly humiliated, the Journal chose to hyperfixate on every aspect of the footage.

Predictably, cable news networks and China watchers also took part in the orgy of speculation. On CNN’s Erin Burnett Out Front (10/25/22), international correspondent Selina Wang said this:

Now, I have spoken to experts who think there is more to this than that pure health explanation, including Steve Tsang of [the] SOAS China Institute. He told me that this is humiliation of Hu Jintao. It is a clear message that there is only one leader who matters in China right now and that is Xi Jinping.

She did not mention the fact that Tsang is a fellow at Chatham House, a think tank that derives a substantial proportion of its funding from the U.S. State Department and the governments of Britain and Japan.

The Wall Street Journal (10/27/22) subjected Hu’s exit to the kind of analysis usually done in movies with photos linked by string on a basement wall.

The day before, on CNN Newsroom (10/24/22), Wang stated, “Hu Jintao. . . was publicly humiliated at the closing ceremony of the Party Congress.” The only support she offered for this assertion came from Victor Shih, another China watcher from the aforementioned CSIS, who conjectured:

I am not a believer of the pure health explanation. And it seemed like [Hu] sat down in a pretty stable manner. And then suddenly, he was asked to leave. I’m not sure if he whispered something, said something to Xi Jinping.

Half-acknowledging that Shih’s description of events actually said nothing at all, Wang concluded: “Regardless, it was a symbolic moment. Out with Hu and the collective leadership of his era.” For Wang and for corporate media’s treatment of the episode writ large, “regardless” was the operative word—regardless of the fact that they were merely engaged in baseless speculation, they would still inevitably arrive at the most sinister conclusion.

MRonline, November 17, 2022,

Imperialism and Taiwan / by Graham Harrington

Originally published in Socialist Voice on September 5, 2022

The recent visit of the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan has sharply increased the prospect of war in the region.

The Chinese government and people strongly believe Taiwan to be their territory; and the no. 3 official in the U.S. government visiting Taiwan is a clear provocation.

Taiwan was invaded by Dutch colonists in 1624, only to be repulsed in 1662 by the Chinese national hero Zheng Chenggong. Taiwan became a full province in Qing Dynasty China in 1885. Ten years later the then Qing government lost Taiwan in a war with imperialist Japan. The Japanese were sold weapons by the United States with which to do this.

After the surrender of the Japanese following the Second World War, the Republic of China continued its war against the Chinese communists, who would go on to defeat the nationalist KMT and proclaim the People’s Republic in 1949, thus bringing to an end the Chinese Civil War.

Efforts to defeat the remaining KMT forces on Taiwan were delayed by the U.S. aggression in Korea, with hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers engaging American and other troops; and by the time the Korean War ended the United States had deployed forces to prevent the communists entering Taiwan. This would later increase to tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers, and nuclear weapons, on the territory.

The present entity known as the “Republic of China” had China’s seat at the United Nations until 1971, when the People’s Republic was recognised by the international community as the true representative of the Chinese people, with even the United States opening diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1979—and, in the process, abandoning its military presence in Taiwan.

It was clear that the Taiwan authorities could not seriously claim to represent the Chinese people. Their case only weakened further after China’s “Reform and Opening Up” led to its economic boom and corresponding improvement in the PRC’s global standing. Taiwan remained a dictatorship under the KMT until the late 1980s, with underlying tensions between the mainland KMT elite who arrived in 1949 and those who had emigrated from Fujian province over the centuries. During its rule the KMT brutally suppressed communists and leftists.

After so-called “democratisation” a variety of political forces emerged in Taiwan. These included, for the first time, pro-independence forces, and even some who wanted Taiwan to become the 51st state of the United States! Chief among these was the Democratic Progressive Party, the present ruling party in Taiwan, which is pro-secession.

In recent decades the Taiwan authorities have promoted a distinct “Taiwanese” identity, and political leaders have endorsed abandoning the One China principle.

Of course Taiwan will never be an independent state. Firstly, the PRC has stated that a declaration of independence would force it into military action to retake the territory. Secondly, a hypothetical “independent” Taiwan would essentially be a colony of the United States: its fate would be much the same as U.S. military colonies in Guam, Hawaii, and Okinawa.

Hawaii was a sovereign state until the United States invaded and annexed it in 1895. It is now the site of the U.S. army’s Pacific Command. Okinawa, a part of the Ryukyu Islands, was independent until invaded by Japan in 1879 and then occupied by the United States after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War. Today, while Okinawa only makes up 1 per cent of Japan’s territory, it has 70 per cent of the U.S. military presence in Japan.

In Okinawa alone, more than 576 American military personnel have been arrested for serious crimes, such as murder and rape. No wonder that these bases are sites of regular protests.

The People’s Republic and Taiwan enjoyed developing relations up to very recently, with students from both travelling to attend university, and tourists going on holiday. Taiwan is dependent on the mainland’s economy for its own economic development.

The PRC has offered reunification under the “One Country, Two Systems” model, similar to Hong Kong and Macau. This would bring Taiwan into the People’s Republic as an autonomous region, keeping its own political-economic system for now.

China’s recent military exercises, which surrounded the territory of Taiwan, show that the United States cannot prevent China taking military action should the situation continue to deteriorate. The United States has given Taiwan $70 billion in military aid since 1979. It is clear that U.S. imperialism is intent on provoking the Chinese leadership, despite the Chinese having the military advantage when it comes to the region around Taiwan.

The desire of China’s people to reunify with Taiwan needs no justification for an Irish audience, given our own situation in a country partitioned by external forces. The United States is making a mistake in not concentrating on its own problems rather than meddling in China’s internal affairs, as a defeat against China—coming so soon after the war in Ukraine and the withdrawal from Afghanistan—would show U.S. imperialism to be just a paper tiger.

MR Online, September 13, 2022,

The Indian economy since Independence / by Prabhat Patnaik

Indian Farmers – Bacbone of Economy | Photo credit: IJR

The post-colonial state in India had two primary tasks before it: one was to overcome the hegemony of metropolitan capital, so that a development strategy in relative autonomy from imperialism could be pursued; the second was to attack landlordism both to free the agrarian population from its clutches, and to increase agricultural output for rapid industrialisation based on a growing home market. These two tasks were interlinked: unless agricultural growth was stepped up considerably by attacking landlordism, the inflationary and balance of payments pressures associated with a relatively autonomous development strategy would keep overall growth constrained, generating social contradictions that would force an eventual capitulation before imperialism.

The attack on landlordism however was limited. It amounted to getting rid of absentee landlords, turning the remaining landlords into agricultural capitalists on the land they retained as khudkasht, and giving ownership rights on whatever land was taken from the landlords to the upper layer of tenants. Land concentration in the sense of the proportion of land owned by, say, the top 15 per cent of landowners, remained unchanged, but the composition of this top 15 per cent changed; and the ground was cleared for capitalist farming in the countryside. At the same time, State investment in irrigation, in the development of better agricultural practices, and in extension activities, were all stepped up.

The main instruments used for overcoming the hegemony of metropolitan capital were: pervasive protection of the domestic economy; control over trade especially in agricultural products; keeping out agribusiness altogether (and even preventing Indian business houses from having any direct relationship with the peasantry); strict control over cross-border capital flows;  nationalisation in certain key areas, notably finance (though the substantial nationalisation of banks was to come later); and the development of the public sector as a bulwark against such hegemony. The development of a relatively autonomous capitalism which was the sine qua non of this strategy was sought to be kept under control by the institution of a policy of investment–and foreign exchange–licensing that also covered collaboration agreements with foreign capital.

This dirigiste period marked a substantial break from the dismal state of the colonial era. The growth-rate of both the overall gross domestic product and of the agricultural sector accelerated greatly. There was a remarkable turnaround in foodgrain availability per capita: the per capita foodgrain availability in British India which had been about 200 kg per annum at the beginning of the twentieth century, had dropped to an abysmal 136.8 kg by 1946-47; this drastic retrogression was reversed and per capita availability reached close to 180 kg by the end of the 1980s.

But this pace of change, though rapid relative to the colonial period, could not satisfy people’s aspirations. Even in 1973-74, despite the rise in per capita foodgrain availability and the associated fall in poverty defined through a nutritional norm, 56 per cent of the rural population could not access 2200 calories per person per day, and 60 per cent of the urban population could not access 2100 calories per person per day. Likewise, the 2 per cent annual increase in the magnitude of employment, while it may have broadly matched population growth, also meant a growth in the backlog of unemployment, which specially alienated the youth. The big bourgeoisie which had supported the project of building an autonomous capitalism, found the growth-rate of the economy too stifling once it had grown to a considerable extent and had become more ambitious; and even this growth rate became difficult to sustain because of the growing fiscal crisis of the State.

The push for a regime change, away from dirigisme towards neo-liberalism, came from the big bourgeoisie. It saw greater opportunities for itself in the new situation by getting integrated with international finance capital that had emerged as the hegemonic element after the oil price shocks of the seventies. The middle class backed it up: it was lured by the prospects of greater employment if activities were outsourced from the metropolitan economies to India, as neo-liberalism promised. And the working people, who might have been expected to stand up in defence of dirigisme, did not do so, as that regime had belied their expectations. Starting from 1985 therefore, but especially after 1991, India moved to a neo-liberal regime which meant freer cross-border flows of goods and services, and of capital, including above all of finance; it also meant the end of licensing.

This was not just a change of economic regime. It entailed the reassertion of the hegemony of metropolitan capital over the Indian economy, though in a vastly altered context, with the big bourgeoisie integrated with it and with segments of the upper middle class acquiescing in this reassertion. The contradiction between imperialism and the Indian society that had united several classes against imperialism in the pre-independence period, of which the dirigiste strategy after independence was seen to be a carryover, now divided the nation itself. The dividing line in short shifted from its location between imperialism and the nation to within the nation itself, between international finance capital, together with the domestic big bourgeoisie integrated with it, on the one hand, and the working people on the other.

An immediate fall-out of this related to the State. Instead of being an entity apparently standing above classes, it became concerned exclusively with the interests of the big business and landlords, and international finance capital with which big business got integrated. A manifestation of this shift was the withdrawal of State support from petty production, including peasant agriculture, and an opening up of this sector to encroachment by international agribusiness and the domestic big bourgeoisie. Such withdrawal of support, eg, of price-support for cash crops (the attempt to withdraw price support for foodgrains was defeated by the year-long kisan agitation), and of subsidies on inputs including credit, led to a sharp decline in the profitability of peasant agriculture. The crisis that followed for peasant agriculture resulted in mass suicides and also peasant emigration to cities in search of non-existent jobs, which only swelled the relative size of the reserve army of labour.

Neo-liberalism in short was loaded with false promises. No doubt the growth rate of GDP in the economy went up, but the rate of growth of employment was halved compared to earlier, to about 1 per cent per annum, because of the high rate of productivity growth that was simultaneously labour-displacing. This acceleration in labour productivity growth came about because of the exposure of domestic producers, not just those exporting but even those producing for the home market, to foreign competition because of the withdrawal of protection under neo-liberalism. The rise in the relative size of the reserve army of labour showed itself not necessarily as a higher unemployment rate, but as the sharing of a given number of jobs (each with a given wage) among more and more people. This rise however kept down the wages even of the organised workers by reducing their bargaining strength.

By squeezing the peasants and petty producers, and by reducing the bargaining strength even of the organised workers, the neo-liberal regime necessarily reduced the average real income per capita of the working people of the country which manifested itself in an increase in the poverty ratio, no matter how high the GDP growth might have been. The per capita foodgrain availability that had risen until the end of the 1980s, at best stagnated thereafter. The proportion of the rural population that fell below 2200 calories per person per day in 1993-94 was, according to the National Sample Survey, 58 per cent; it went up to 68 per cent by 2011-12. The next NSS in 2017-18 came with such dismal findings (apparently per capita real expenditure had fallen by 9 per cent between 2011-12 and 2017-18 in rural India) that the Modi government suppressed them, and decided even to discontinue the NSS in its old form! In urban India the proportion of people falling below 2100 calories per person per day had increased from 57 to 65 per cent between 1993-94 and 2011-12.

The working people’s misery, increasing even in the heyday of neo-liberalism (and thus showing the bogusness of the theory of “trickle down”), has accentuated sharply as neo-liberalism has moved into a crisis, from which there is no clear way out. This crisis is hardly surprising. We saw earlier the tendency under neo-liberalism for the per capita real incomes of the working people to decline on average, even as labour productivity increases, which increases the share of economic surplus in output (this in fact is a world-wide phenomenon). This is the reason behind the sharp rise in income inequality in India and elsewhere during the period of neo-liberalism.

Since a rupee in the hands of the surplus earners generates less consumption than the same rupee in the hands of the working people, such an income shift tends to create a tendency towards over-production. This tendency, kept in check in the world economy because of the asset-price bubbles in the U.S., which artificially increase demand by making asset-holders feel spuriously wealthier, has asserted itself after the collapse of the American housing bubble. The world economy has been more or less in a state of stagnation since then, and this has caught up with the Indian economy too, pushing it towards greater unemployment, and accentuated distress. Matters have been made even worse by the Modi government’s ill-conceived measures like demonetisation and the introduction of the GST (the work on which had begun under the Congress earlier).

This crisis cannot be overcome within the neo-liberal regime. The only possible mechanism for overcoming it, viz. larger State expenditure, can work if this expenditure is financed either by a fiscal deficit or by taxing the surplus- earning rich; if it is financed by taxing the working people, who more or less spend their entire income anyway, then one kind of demand would simply get substituted by another, with no net expansion in demand. But both an increase in the fiscal deficit and an increase in taxes on the rich are unacceptable to international finance capital; if they are resorted to under neo-liberalism then finance will simply quit the country en masse, causing an acute financial crisis.

On the other hand, neo-liberalism’s own way of coping with the crisis, which is to give tax concessions to the capitalists in the hope that they will raise investment, actually worsens the crisis: the capitalists just pocket the money without investing a rupee more (they will do so only if demand has increased), while the reduction of expenditure elsewhere for financing these handouts to capitalists, actually reduces demand.

Getting out of this crisis, which has nothing to do with the pandemic and which predates the pandemic (though the pandemic has added to it in the short-run) requires therefore a transcendence of neo-liberalism. But precisely to forestall such a possibility, neo-liberalism in crisis has made an alliance with Hindu communalism to change the discourse. The aim of this corporate-Hindutva alliance is to shift the discourse away from issues of material life to the alleged “atrocities” committed, whether in the present or in the past, by a hapless minority group. Its aim is to keep people engaged in hatred against this group while they suffer growing distress, even as international capital and domestic big business add to their wealth despite the crisis, by getting hold of assets, of raw material extracting rights, and of investment opportunities, from the public sector and the petty production sector.

Big business finances the Hindutva Party to come to power and supports it through the media it controls; in return it increases its wealth inter alia through measures of primitive accumulation of capital. And any opposition to this process is stifled through a combination of blatant authoritarianism, the creation of disunity among the people, and the use of hoodlum elements against dissenters.

Neo-liberalism even in its heyday increases economic inequalities greatly, abrogates whatever democratic content there was in the operation of the State, subverts the autonomy of the State, and increases absolute poverty; in addition however it ends up getting enmeshed in stagnation and mass unemployment from which there is no exit. Because of this dead-end, it imposes a neo-fascist political regime upon the country. This regime can be overthrown not just by democratic elements coming together. That of course is necessary; but the transcendence of neo-fascism requires the transcendence of the conjuncture that produced it, viz. the crisis produced by the neo-liberal order, for which this order itself has to be transcended. This is a difficult task; it can be accomplished only by the widest mobilisation of the working people.

Prabhat Patnaik is an Indian political economist and political commentator. His books include Accumulation and Stability Under Capitalism (1997), The Value of Money (2009), and Re-envisioning Socialism (2011).

MR Online, August, 13, 2022, The Indian economy since Independence / by Prabhat Patnaik

Commentary – Culture and existence: the message from Silger / by Saroj Giri

A mandi woman in Adivasi day. (Photo: Biplob Rahman / Wikimedia Commons)

On May 17, 2021 three unarmed adivasi (aboriginal) protesters were killed by Indian police near the village of Silger, in the central Indian forests in the State of Chhattisgarh. They were protesting the building of a fortified camp by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on their land and without their consent. A movement in protest has convulsed Chhattisgarh, and culminated in a mass rally at Silger on the one year anniversary of the murders. Monthly Review author Saroj Giri, who teaches Politics at the University of Delhi, travelled to the forest for the event and has sent us his thoughts on its considerable significance. Eds., Monthly Review

It is quite common to think of the black man in the United States who finds himself in a moment of danger. But let us talk about the adivasi people in India who are in a similar situation. Not just danger, but they–their life, culture, forests and land–are facing a situation of accelerated danger.

In such a situation, as one can imagine, one tends to react with a bodily presence of mind, with heightened stimulation. You respond not really in a strategic or tactical manner, calmly thinking about winning but almost in a reflex, a corporeal reaction from each and every pore–which might still help you win. Your responses are immediate and unthought, but precise and cutting. In such a world, each object displays infinite powers even in their finite objectivity–a kind of corporeal enervation. What looks like a finite action in such a moment might be one of divination, utterly sublime.

In Frantz Fanon, the black man is in the moment of danger, of nonbeing and declivity. But this is not about being cast into victimhood and oppression. For it is like a prelude, the springboard from which a revolutionary subjectivity is born. Fanon writes,

there is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity where an authentic upheaval can be born.

The moment of accelerated danger and the zone of nonbeing are precisely what captures the situation in the adivasi lands of central India today. Places like Bastar, Gadchiroli in the Dandakaranya forests. But what you also find is that this is where “an authentic upheaval can be born”–or is born. The adivasi population has conjured itself into a form of divine corporeality and an authentic upheaval, speaking right from their pores and capillaries. Their culture, the struggle for the defence of adivasi culture, is enervated into a defence of their very existence. Never before has the question of culture become so fundamentally a question of the very existence of a people.

Culture whose defence necessitates an armed struggle to uphold the existence of the people is not culture in any simple sense. It is now a culture which plays a larger role of blocking the process of capital accumulation, undoing accumulation through dispossession, stalling capital in its tracks. 

“What will you do with adivasi (indigenous or aboriginal) culture, if there is no adivasi, if your very existence is under threat?” These are the words of Surju Tikam, a key member of the mainstream Sarva Adivasi Samaj (United Indigenous Society) in Chhattisgarh. He shared this thought in a conversation we were having in Silger on the 16th May 2022.

Thousands of adivasi masses had converged in Silger in Central India to mark one year of their movement against the killing of five people last year. The movement under the banner of Moolvasi Bachao Manch (Aboriginal Peoples Platform) is in protest against the paramilitary camps and disproportionately wide roads built for further infiltration in the region. The entire area is rich in minerals and ore that are being eyed by the rapacious corporations. Crushing the rebel Maoist movement and enabling “development” in the area is the stated rationale of the state for the spiralling militarisation and road building. Earlier, these “area domination” exercises took place under the rubric of Operation Green Hunt, now under Operation Samadhan-Prahar, of the Indian state.

What did Surju Tikam mean by his remarks?

| Adivasi 1 | MR Online

He meant that existence must be defended. The Silger resistance is about defending the very existence of the adivasi as a people in their land and habitat–and not just defending an abstract aboriginal “culture”. 

The refusal to turn one’s culture into a valorised good in the commodity spectacle, in the market of multiculturalism and non-binary, “two-spirit” branding–means that culture would now turn into a solid basis for its own defence. Culture becomes the terrain of resistance and must attune itself to the laws of war.

Nor is it about culture as “radical art” or the avant garde “political art”, detached from the living reproduction of society, the mode of interchange between humans and nature. How to bury the dead, welcome the new born, the rites of marriage, harvest and festivals–such is the culture at stake here, furthest from the deracination typical of “radical art” today. Hence existence is vital. But the defence of existence cannot be done without culture. There comes a moment when culture and war of resistance becomes inseparable.

Silger today stands for adivasi culture which is inseparable from the existence of the adivasi people as adivasi, from their astitva (existence). This is “existence” which is more fundamental than even self-determination and autonomy–more in tune with the Black Panther’s emphasis on the existence and self-defence of the black people in the U.S..

| Adivasi 2 | MR Online

Culture, defetishized and tied with existence, seems to make capital nervous and desperate. For here is culture which denies capital that on which it feeds, the vital mineral resources and primary materials and “unfree labour”. Remember how the anthropologist Maurice Godelier formulated that in certain indigenous societies, kinship relations themselves take the form of production relations. In Bastar with the movement in Silger, we have a case where kinship relations, being the very form of production relations, now as culture interlaced with existence in the ongoing resistance, work towards impeding the penetration of big capital and mining interests. 

Adi-vasi, as the first (adi-) inhabitants are the first people not just in the temporal or chronological sense, but also in the spatial sense–that is, they started human settlements and social life in the region. The spatial aspect is more complicated as surely the adivasi way of life, even if it were chronologically the first, is not the only possible way of life and, moreover, it is itself subject to change and motion. There is no reason to romanticize the adivasi way of life. And yet in the dynamic political battle raging in Bastar today the convergence of culture and existence as a bulwark against capital accumulation means that the adivasi way of life is a political banner of resistance and a way of life rolled into one. The Moolvasi Bachao Manch is right in defending it.

There is another dimension. For what is inescapable, in the Indian debate on indigeneity, is that “adivasi” denotes a prior register of resisting the Hindu-Brahminical hegemonic social-civilisational framework which aligns closely with the ruling establishment.

| Adivasi 3 | MR Online

We know where B. R. Ambedkar identified the revolution and counter revolution in India. He identified it in what he called the “Buddhist revolution and Brahminical counter-revolution” going back to ancient India. Then you have Jyotirao Phule who would propose the almost socio-civilisational divide between the Aryan invaders who defeated and subjugated the native adivasis and instituted the Brahminical caste system. The Buddhist is not to be conflated with adivasi. But there are good reasons to believe that, in the struggle between contending forces in Indian civilisation, the Buddhists were on the side of the adivasi in opposition to the Brahminical/Aryan social order.

Now these civilisational-socio-ideological formulations must be provided a material basis in the active relationship between culture and the defence of existence. They must be freed from the essentialist racialization of Aryan vs. non-Aryan and cast onto the furnace of capitalist accelerationism and class formation which is not about fixating on a sociological working class as a separate category, but one which striates the whole social body–this means that class forces would also internally differentiate and constitute the adivasi or the bahujan (lower caste majority) itself or for that matter the Brahminical sections. This is not about the working class as a group to be venerated but class forces that animate and structure the social body, including existence and culture.

The resistance against military camps and spooky roads in Silger (as also in several other parts of central India) is therefore of major significance today.

| Adivasi 4 | MR Online

Silger poses the question of culture in such a way that it prevents the dissolution of the adivasi people into the mass of heavily underpaid cheap labour dotting the industrial towns and cities of India. Here is a cultural resistance which stops feeding the machine of capitalist accumulation with mineral resources and cheap precariat labour.

This also means that it is not about opposing all mining or “development” as such. It is about opposing mining in its present form–for even within adivasi culture/existence, we find the persistence of living traditions of mining and metallurgy. Walk into any fancy high-end store in Indian cities and you will find the famous artefacts of adivasi metalworks, most famously, the Dhokra art. Art galleries in cities too display such artefacts and similar archaeological finds from the region.

Cabral, Fanon and the armed struggle

Surju Tikam’s formulation connecting culture with existence and the war of resistance, resonates with the views of Amilcar Cabral from Africa during the 1960-70s who was faced with a similar situation with regards to the culture and existence of the people. In his famous essay called “National liberation and Culture” (1970), Cabral foregrounded the question of culture and the armed struggle of the people against Portuguese colonial domination in Guinea-Bissau. We can also think of Frantz Fanon’s emphasis on culture and its interrelationship with the anti-colonial resistance, most famously the role of the Islamic veil worn by women in the armed struggle in Algeria. In his The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon asked:

There now remains one fundamental question. What is the relationship between the struggle, the political or armed conflict, and culture?

Cabral is very aware that complete domination of a people “can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned”. And then,

For, as long as there continues to exist a part of these people retaining their own cultural life, foreign domination cannot be sure of its perpetuation.

But culture might as well escape enslavement and can serve as the basis of resistance and armed struggle. He writes:

At any moment, depending on internal and external factors determining the evolution of the society in question, cultural resistance (indestructible) may take on new forms (political, economic, armed) in order fully to contest foreign domination.

At the same time, the armed struggle also further develops the culture in new and creative directions: “the armed liberation struggle is not only a product of culture but also a determinant of culture”. So the armed struggle also influences culture thereby strengthening the relation between culture and existence of the people.

Culture is not just the basis for the armed struggle, but also “an inexhaustible source of courage, of material and moral support, of physical and psychic energy which enables them to accept sacrifices—even to accomplish ‘miracles’.”

There is also a warning here as culture can also entrap the resistance struggle:

But equally, in some respects, culture is very much a source of obstacles and difficulties of erroneous conceptions about reality, of deviations in carrying out duty, and of limitations on the tempo and efficiency of a struggle that is confronted with the political, technical and scientific requirements of a war.

There are of course many differences between the situation in Africa in the 1970s and what is unfolding in central India today. And yet in the very concrete specificity of the adivasi situation today there is so much resonance of the precise relation between culture and existence, culture and the war of liberation of the people, if not as nation, but as a people. That Cabral’s views resonated so much with what Surju Tikam was saying is not entirely incidental.

As a mainstream platform, the Sarva Adivasi Samaj in Chhattisgarh today has members from the adivasi community who are from both the lower classes and the middle class and a small section of the more moneyed upper classes. It is split between focusing one-sidedly on defending adivasi culture in an abstract or essentialised culturalist sense, or integrating the culture question with that of existence. If it does the latter, that is integrates culture with existence, then it might have to reckon with the ongoing battle and armed struggle in Bastar. In order to avoid the question of armed struggle, it might be tempted to close its eyes and only focus on an essentialised and abstract idea of culture, removed from the lives of millions of adivasi masses—that however might not be the right thing to do.

The message from Silger is to go forward on the path of a strong people’s resistance movement which would uphold adivasi culture without abandoning the task of defending the very existence of the adivasi people without displacing and splintering them into the ranks of the impoverished urban proletariat. Ambedkar, Phule, Kabir, Ravidas all emphasised on the moolvasi’s rejection of Brahminical ideology–now Silger takes that struggle, and its cultural-ideological fight, into the very terrain of big capitalist interests and state repression that profess the idea of “development” and “growth”. Silger, as the open movement of the masses, is able to “balance” itself between the state and the Maoists and yet is able to attack the overwhelming injustice and exceptional violence of the state and its connivance with big capitalist interests.

Saroj Giri writes for Monthly Review and teaches Politics at the University of Delhi

MR Online, June 6, 2022, 2022,

Commentary: What is propelling the U.S. into increasing international military aggression? / by John Ross

Thick smoke billows from the Azov steel plant on April 20, 2022. Photo credit: Guancha.


The international escalation of U.S. military aggression over a period of more than two decades is clear. However, even within that framework, the events leading to the Ukraine war represent a new qualitative step in this U.S. military policy. Before the Ukraine war, the U.S. carried out military confrontations only against developing countries which had far weaker armed forces than the U.S. and which did not possess nuclear weapons. In chronological order these major U.S. aggressive military actions against developing countries were:

  • Bombing of Serbia in
  • Invasion of Afghanistan in
  • Iraq Invasion in
  • Bombing of Libya in

However, the U.S. threat to extend NATO into Ukraine, which is the fundamental cause of the present war in that country, is a qualitative U.S. escalation from simply attacks on far weaker developing countries than itself. The U.S. was aware in advance that the threat to extend NATO into Ukraine affected the most fundamental national interests of Russia—a country with very strong military forces, including a nuclear weapons arsenal which is equal to the U.S.. U.S. policy towards Ukraine, therefore, explicitly crossed Russia’s “red lines”—something the U.S. entirely understood and which it was prepared to take the risk of undertaking.

While the United States has not committed major units of its own military forces to the war in Ukraine, at least as yet, the U.S. stating explicitly that this is because it would threaten to create a world war with the nuclear armed state of Russia, the U.S. is strongly intervening in the form of a proxy war against Russia. This is made clear not only by the original proposal that Ukraine could join NATO, but by the training of Ukraine’s army by the U.S. in the lead up to the war, by massive supplies of military weapons to Ukraine, by the U.S. passing of satellite and other intelligence information to Ukraine during the war etc.

How the U.S. pushed Ukraine into the war

Because it is important to understand the U.S. goals in the Ukraine war it is necessary to grasp factually just how carefully and consciously the U.S. prepared the war. Therefore, before proceeding to the main subject of this article, which is to analyse the forces propelling the U.S. on an escalating aggressive military policy, it is worth noting in detail the U.S. military build-up in Ukraine. This is comprehensively summarised in an analysis by Vyacheslav Tetekin, member of the Central Committee of the Russian Federation (KPRF). This makes clear the way that Ukraine was used as a part of a consciously aggressive policy by the U.S.:

Ukraine… was prepared for war for a long time. Along with that, on the basis of similarity of events happened in another time and in another part of the world one can talk about the standard model used by the United States to achieve its geopolitical goals…

Russia was purposefully brought into this situation. It all started with a coup in Ukraine in February 2014, when extremely anti-Russian forces came to power in Kiev with the support of the United States and local neo-Nazis…

During the “reforms” launched in 1991 the Ukrainian army has suffered considerably and by 2014 was not a powerful military force. Military equipment fell into disrepair, the morale of officers and soldiers was low due to extremely low salaries. The Ukrainian army did not want and could not fight….

Therefore [after the 2014 coup], the country’s finances were redeployed from the tasks of improving the welfare of the nation to strengthening the armed forces. Ukraine’s military budget has grown from $1.7 billion in 2014 to $8.9 billion in 2019 (5.9% of the country’s GDP)… Ukraine… spent three times more [as a percentage of GDP] for military purposes than the developed countries of the West…

Military spending figures show that the country was preparing for a large-scale war… Hundreds of instructors from the United States and other NATO countries participated in training of the Army. Ukraine was preparing for war under the supervision of the United States.

Huge funds were spent on the restoration of military hardware. During the war against Donbas [the Russian speaking part of Eastern Ukraine] in 2014-15, Ukraine has not used air combat support, as all combat aircraft required repair. However, by February 2022, there were already about 150 fighters, bombers and attack aircraft in the Ukrainian Air Force. Such a buildup of the Air Force would make sense only for the capture of Donbas.

At the same time, powerful fortifications were created on the border of Donbas and Ukraine… It is significant that the salary of soldiers at the end of 2021 increased 3 (!) times, from 170 to 510 dollars. The Government of Ukraine has been dramatically increasing the size of its Armed Forces.

The first stage of Ukraine’s preparation for war was successfully completed by the end of 2021. The combat capability of the Ukrainian army has been restored, military equipment has been repaired and modernized…

However, even the modernized Ukrainian army could not attack Russia. The balance of forces was clearly not in favor of Kiev. Therefore, the United States has planned two options for using the new, militarized Ukraine… The first one was to capture Donbas and, in case of a successful combination of circumstances, proceed for invasion to the Crimea. The second option was to provoke Russia’s armed intervention…

Russia understood that Ukraine being under the heel of the United States creates a very real danger. In December 2021, Moscow put forward a demand to the NATO on measures to ensure Russia’s legitimate interests. The West…. ignored these demands, knowing that preparations for the invasion of Donbas are in full swing. The most combat-ready units of the Ukrainian Army numbering up to 150,000 thousand people were concentrated on the border of Donbas. They could break the resistance of the People’s militia of Donbas within 2-3 days, with the complete destruction of Donetsk and spill so much blood of the defenders of the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic]…

the blame for what is happening in Ukraine now lies entirely with the United States and its allies, who have used the… people of Ukraine as a weapon.

Ukraine is a qualitative escalation of military aggression by the U.S.

It is therefore clear from both the fundamental political facts, U.S. insistence on the “right” of Ukraine to enter NATO, and the military facts, the U.S. build-up of Ukraine’s armed forces, that the U.S. was preparing a confrontation in Ukraine despite the fact that this would inevitably involve a direct clash with Russia. Consequently, in assessing the Ukraine crisis, it is fundamental to note that the U.S. was prepared to escalate its military threats from simply those against developing countries—such threats are unjust but do not directly risk great power military conflicts or world wars—to aggression against very strong states such as Russia which do risk global military conflict. Therefore, it is crucial to analyse what creates this escalating U.S. military aggression? Is it temporary, after which the U.S. will resume a “peaceful” course, or is increasing military escalation a long-term trend in U.S. policy?

This is obviously a key issue for all countries, but it is particularly important for China—itself a very powerful state. To take only one key example, in parallel with U.S. escalation against Russia, the United States has not merely imposed tariffs against China’s economy, and carried out a systematic international campaign of lying against China over the situation in Xinjiang, but has attempted to undermine the One China policy regarding Taiwan Province.

Among these actions by the U.S. regarding Taiwan Province, as is well known:

  • For the first time since the commencement of United States-China diplomatic relations Biden invited a representative of Taipei to the inauguration of a U.S. president.
  • Speaker of the S. House of Representatives, Pelosi, announced that she is to visit Taipei—before becoming ill from Covid.
  • The S. has called for Taipei’s participation in the UN.
  • The S. has intensified sale of armaments and equipment to the island.
  • Visits by U.S. delegations to Taipei have
  • The S. has increased its military deployment in the South China Sea and regularly sent U.S. warships through the Taiwan Strait.
  • S. Special Operations Forces have trained Taiwanese ground troops as well as Taiwanese Navy sailors.

As is the case with the Ukraine and Russia, the U.S. is fully conscious that the One China policy affects China’s most fundamental national interests, it is the fundamental basis of U.S.-China relations for the 50 years since Nixon’s 1972 visit to Beijing, and that to abandon it crosses China’s “red lines”. It is therefore crystal clear that the U.S. is attempting in a provocative way to undermine the One China policy in the same way that it deliberately decided to cross Russia’s red lines in Ukraine.

Regarding the question of whether these U.S. provocations against both China and Russia are temporary or long term/permanent, the clear conclusion given in this article is that the trend of U.S. military escalation will continue. However, as such an issue, potentially involving wars, is of the utmost seriousness, with extremely major practical consequences, any exaggeration, or mere propaganda, in any direction on such a subject is unacceptable. The aim of this article is therefore to present in the most factual, objective, and calm way possible the fundamental reasons why the U.S. will attempt to further escalate its military aggression over the coming period. It also analyses which trends may, on the contrary, push back this dangerous U.S. policy or which may strengthen it further.

Comparison of the U.S. economy in the old cold war against the USSR and new cold war against China

Reduced to the most essential facts, the key forces that have driven this escalating U.S. policy of military aggression, which has now lasted over more than two decades, are clear. It is that the U.S. economy has permanently lost its overwhelming weight in world production, but that at the same time the U.S. still retains its preponderance in military power and spending. This, therefore, creates a very dangerous period for humanity during which the U.S. may attempt to compensate for its relative economic failure by use of military force. This already explains the U.S. military attacks on developing countries and also its escalation to confrontation with Russia in Ukraine. The question is whether this U.S. military aggression will increase further—to confrontation with China and, in the most extreme case, for U.S. willingness to consider a World War? To answer this it is necessary to make an accurate analysis of the economic and military situation of the U.S.

The first crucial issue to assess this issue is to analyse factually that, contrary to its own propaganda on the “dynamism” of its economy, the U.S. economy is in long term decline in terms of its weight in the world economy. To clarify the scale of this, and to determine its relation to present U.S. military policy, it is clarificatory to make a comparison of the present global situation of the U.S. in the “new cold war” compared to the “old cold war” of the U.S. against the USSR.

The economic and military position of the U.S during the “old cold war” and the “new cold war”

To start with the economy, in 1950, near the commencement of the first cold war, the U.S. accounted for 27.3% of world GDP on the data of Angus Maddison, the top expert on world long term economic growth. In comparison the USSR, the largest socialist economy of that period, accounted for 9.6% of world GDP. The U.S. economy was therefore 273%, almost three times, as large as the USSR’s.

Taking economic development in this first cold war, during the entire post-World War II period the largest percentage of U.S. GDP that the Soviet Union ever achieved was 44.4% in 1975. That is, even at the peak of the relative economic achievement of the USSR, the U.S. economy was 225%, more than twice, the size of the Soviet economy. In summary, throughout the “old cold war”, the U.S. enjoyed a crushing economic lead over the USSR.

Turning to the present situation, even at market exchange rates China’s GDP is already 74% of that of the U.S.—a far higher level than the USSR ever achieved. It means that at market exchange rates the U.S. economy is only 131% of China’s. Furthermore, China’s economic growth rate is much faster than the U.S.

Calculated in purchasing power parities (PPPs), the measure Maddison used, China’s economy is already 18% larger than the U.S. By 2026, on IMF projections in PPPs, China’s economy will be 35% larger than the U.S. The economic gap between China and the U.S. is therefore far closer than anything the USSR ever achieved.

Taking other measures, China has become, no matter how measured, by far the world’s largest manufacturing power. In 2019, the latest available data, China accounted for 28.7% of world manufacturing production compared to 16.8% for the U.S.—that is China’s manufacturing production was more than 70% higher than the U.S.. The USSR never came close to overtaking the U.S. in manufacturing production.

Turning to trade in goods, the defeat of the U.S. by China in the trade war launched by Trump is even somewhat humiliating for the U.S. In 2018 China was already the world’s largest goods trading country. But at that time China’s trade in goods was only 11% larger than the U.S. By 2021 China’s goods trade was 35% higher than the U.S. In terms of goods exports the situation was even worse for the U.S.. In 2018 China’s exports were 53% larger than the U.S., by 2021 China’s good exports were 92% larger than the U.S.. In summary, not only has China become by far the world’s largest goods trading nation but the U.S. had suffered a clear defeat in the trade war launched by the Trump and Biden administrations.

Even more fundamental from a macroeconomic viewpoint is China’s lead in capital which can be invested, that is savings (not simply household savings but also company and state savings)—the driving force of economic growth. In 2019, the latest available data, China’s gross capital savings was in absolute terms 56% higher than the U.S.—the equivalent of $6.3 trillion compared to $4.3 trillion. But this figure greatly understates China’s lead over the U.S. because it does not take into account depreciation. Once depreciation is taken into account China’s net annual capital creation was 635% of the U.S.—the equivalent of $3.9 trillion compared to $0.6 trillion. In summary China is greatly adding to its capital stock each year, while the U.S. is in comparative terms adding little.

The net result of these trends was that China’s economic growth has been overwhelmingly outperforming the U.S. not merely in the entire four-decade period since 1978, as is well known, but this has continued into the recent period. In inflation adjusted prices since 2007, the year before the international financial crisis, the U.S. economy has grown by 24% while China’s economy has grown by 177%—China’s economy has grown by more than seven times as fast as the U.S.. In summary the U.S. capitalist economy is suffering a severe defeat by China’s socialist economy on the terrain of peaceful competition.

A multi-polar world economy

Summarising the trends above, the U.S. lead in productivity, technology and company size means that its economy overall is still stronger than China’s, but the gap between the U.S. and China is far narrower than the gap between the U.S. and the USSR. Furthermore, whatever is the exact judgement on the relative bilateral strengths of the U.S. and Chinese economies, it clear that the U.S. has already lost its global productive economic predominance. By 2021, in PPPs, the U.S. accounted for only 16% of the world economy—that is 84% of the world economy is outside the U.S. Purely economically the global era of multipolarity, instead of unipolar domination by the U.S., is not ahead it has already arrived.

But the conclusion which he U.S. policy derives from this, as will be analysed, is that it must therefore try to use military and political means to prevent this economic multipolarity from expressing itself.

US military strength

These economic setbacks for the U.S. have led some, particularly in a few circles in the West, to believe that the defeat of the U.S. is inevitable or has already occurred. A similar view has been expressed by a small number of people in China who have expressed the view that China’s comprehensive strength has already overtaken the U.S.. These views are wrong and an illusion. They forget, in the famous words of Lenin, that “politics comes before economics that is the ABC of Marxism”. And, regarding politics, in the famous dictum of Chairman Mao “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” The fact that the U.S. is losing in peaceful economic competition does not mean that it will simply allow this economic trend to peacefully continue—that is to make the mistake of placing economics before politics. On the contrary, the fact that the U.S. is losing in peaceful economic competition, both to China and to other countries, pushes the U.S. to attempt to use other means, military and political, to attempt to overcome the consequences of its economic defeats.

More precisely, the danger to all countries is that while the U.S. has irreversibly lost global productive dominance it has not yet lost military supremacy. U.S. military spending is greater than the next nine countries in the world put together. Only in one area, nuclear weapons, is U.S. strength equalled by another country, Russia—which is due to Russia’s inheritance of nuclear weapons from the USSR. The exact numbers of nuclear weapons held by countries in general are state secrets, but as of 2022 a leading Western estimate, by the Federation of American Scientists, estimates that Russia possesses 5,977 nuclear weapons, while the United States has 5,428. Russia and the U.S. each have about 1,600 active deployed strategic nuclear warheads. The U.S. has far more nuclear weapons than China. Meanwhile in the field of conventional weapons U.S. spending is far greater than that of any other country. In summary, if the U.S. has already lost its ability to completely dominate global production it maintains a huge lead over any other country in military spending—with the single exception of nuclear weapons.

This divergence in the position of the U.S. in the economic and military spheres therefore determines the U.S.’s aggressive policy and creates the distinction between the economic and military positions of the U.S. in the present “new cold war” compared to the “old cold war” waged by the U.S. against the USSR.

In the first cold war the U.S. and USSR’s military strength was approximately comparable, but, as already noted, the U.S. economy was much larger than the USSR’s. Therefore, in the “old cold war” U.S. strategy was to attempt to shift issues onto an economic terrain. Even Reagan’s military build- up of the 1980s was not intended to wage war against the USSR but to engage it in an arms race damaging the Soviet economy. Consequently, despite tension, cold war never turned to hot war.

The present U.S. situation is the opposite. Its relative economic position has weakened greatly, but its military power is great. Therefore, the U.S. attempts to move issues onto the military terrain. This explains its escalating military aggression and why this is a permanent trend.

This therefore means that a very dangerous period has been entered for humanity. The U.S. is losing in peaceful economic competition. But it still retains a military lead over China. Therefore, the temptation is for the U.S. to attempt to use “direct” or “indirect” military means to attempt to halt China’s development.

Direct and indirect use of U.S. military strength

By using the term “direct” and “indirect” military means used by the U.S. it does not mean only the possibility that the U.S. launches a frontal direct war against China—that is the most extreme variant. There are other means, already used or which are being discussed, to use U.S. military strength.

  • To use other countries subordination to the U.S. military to attempt to pressure these contries to adopt more hostile economic policies towards China—the S. has particularly been doing this in relation to Germany and the European Union.
  • To attempt to overcome the multipolar economic character of the world, which has already been created, and instead to created alliances dominated in a unilateral way by the U.S.—this is clearly the case with NATO, with the Quad (U.S., Japan, Australia, India) etc.
  • To attempt to force countries which have good economic relations with China to weaken these relations—this is particularly obvious with Australia and is now being attempted with
  • To potentially wage wars against allies of
  • To consider attempting to draw China into a “limited” war with the S.—this is actively discussed in the U.S. regarding Taiwan Province.

An example of the U.S.’s integrated use of direct and indirect military pressure was given by the Financial Times chief U.S. political commentator Janan Ganesh, who noted, following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine created by the U.S. attempt to create the conditions for the Ukraine to join NATO:

From 2026… liquefied natural gas will arrive via tanker on the shores of northern Germany, will pour into cryogenic storage vats set to minus 160C, and then “re-gasify” before coursing through the grid in place of Russian imports.

Germany has no LNG terminal at present… Of the exporters that stand to profit, the U.S. is nearer than Australia…

And those exports are the least of it. If Germany honours its recent pledge to splurge on defence, then the U.S. should be able to share more of Nato’s financial and logistical burden…. A Europe that is more tethered to America and at the same time less of a drain on it…. Far from ending the U.S. turn to Asia, the war in Ukraine might be the event that enables it.

As for that [Pacific] part of the world… Japan could hardly be doing more to side with Kyiv, and therefore with Washington.

In short, the U.S. used its military pressure to increase the economic subordination of Germany and Japan to itself. Many other variants than these can be envisaged. But their common feature is that the U.S. uses its military strength to attempt to compensate for its weakened economic position. Understood in this way it is clear that the U.S. has already embarked on this fundamental policy of directly and indirectly using its military strength.

Of course, China’s more rapid economic development than the U.S. means that, after a certain period of time, China’s military strength can be the equal of the U.S.. But that period of time cannot be very short. It would take years for China to build a nuclear arsenal the equal of the U.S, even if China decided to embark on such a policy. It would probably take still longer to create conventional armaments the equal of the U.S.—given the enormous technological development and training of personnel required for such advanced forces as the sir force, navy etc. Therefore, for a very significant number of years the U.S. will have stronger armed forces than China. This, therefore, creates the permanent temptation for the U.S. to attempt to use military means to compensate for its declining economic position.

Significance of the war in Ukraine

This fundamental dynamic makes the outcome of the present war in Ukraine crucial for China—as well as for the rest of the world. The causes of this war were examined in detail in 俄罗斯发起军事行动是在保卫中国的西部防线? Therefore this analysis is not repeated here. But there are, in summary, two fundamental lessons to be drawn from the events leading to this war.

First, it confirms clearly it is pointless to ask the U.S. for “mercy”. After the USSR’s dissolution in 1991 for 17 years Russia pursued a policy of attempting to have very friendly relations with the U.S. Under Yeltsin Russia was indeed humiliatingly subordinate to the U.S.. During the early period of Putin’s presidency Russia give direct assistance to the U.S. in the war against Islamic Jihadism and in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. response was by violating every promise it had made that NATO would not advance “by an inch” towards Russia and instead to aggressively increase military pressure on Russia.

Second, that the outcome of the war in Ukraine is crucial for not only for Russia but for China and the entire world. Russia is the only country which in terms of nuclear weapons is the equal of the U.S.. During the period of time in which it would take for China to build up its nuclear weapons arsenal to be the equal of the U.S. if China decided to adopt such a policy, the good relations of China with Russia are a major deterrent for the U.S. not to adopt any policy of a direct attack on China. The aim of the U.S. in Ukraine is precisely to attempt to bring about a fundamental change in policy and government in Russia so that a government is installed which no longer defends Russia’s national interests, which is hostile to China, and is subordinate to the U.S. If that were achieved then not only would China faced a greatly increased military threat from the U.S. but China’s enormously long northern border with Russia would become a strategic threat to China. China would be surrounded from the north. That is both the national interests of Russia and China would be enormously undermined.

Sergei Glaziev, minister of the Russian government for Russia’s Eurasian Economic Commission, has precisely stated the situation whereby the U.S. views its tactics in attacking China and Russia: “After it was not possible to weaken China head-on through a trade war, the Americans shifted the main blow to Russia, which they consider as a weak link in world geopolitics and the economy. The Anglo- Saxons seek to implement their… ideas to destroy our country [Russia], and at the same time to weaken China, because the strategic alliance of the Russian Federation and the PRC is too much for the United States.”

Will the U.S. continue to escalate its military actions?

If the U.S. is pushed by a declining economic position, but by miliary strength, to a path of increasing military aggression the question obviously arises as to whether there are limits to this aggression?

The first point to make regarding this is that there is no “internal”, that is domestic, limit to the scope of U.S. aggression. The facts show clearly that the U.S. has been prepared to carry out the most extremely violent military aggression to the point of willingness to destroy entire countries.

  • In the Korean war the U.S., even without use of nuclear weapons, using explosives, incendiary bombs, and napalm destroyed nearly all of the North Korea’s cities and towns, including an estimated 85 percent of its buildings.
  • The U.S. bombing in Indochina, during the Vietnam war, was even greater. The United States Air Force dropped in Indochina, from 1964 to August 15, 1973, 2million tons of bombs and other ordnance. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft expended another1.5 million tons in Southeast Asia. As Edward Miguel and Gerard Roland noted in a comprehensive survey of this:
    “This tonnage far exceeded that expended in World War II and in the Korean War. The U.S. Air Force consumed 2,150,000 tons of munitions in World War II—1,613,000 tons in the European Theater and 537,000 tons in the Pacific Theater—and 454,000 tons in the Korean War.… Vietnam War bombing thus represented at least three times as much (by weight) as both European and Pacific theater World War II bombing combined, and about fifteen times total tonnage in the Korean War. Given the prewar Vietnamese population of approximately 32 million, U.S. bombing translates into hundreds of kilograms of explosives per capita during the conflict. For another comparison, the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the power of roughly 15,000 and 20,000 tons of TNT… U.S. bombing in Indochina represents 100 times the combined impact of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs..” In addition to explosive devices the U.S. used chemical weapons such as the notorious “Agent Orange” producing horrifying deformities among those hit by these agents.
  • In the invasion of Iraq, given the shorter duration of the war, the quantity of explosives used by the S. did not match Indochina but the U.S. was prepared to devastate the country over a prolonged period and to use particularly horrific weapons such as depleted uranium which is still producing terrible birth defects many years after the U.S. attack.
  • In its bombing of Libya the U.S. reduced what had been one of the richest per capita countries in Africa, with a developed welfare state, to a society in which tribal conflicts exist and in which slaves are openly sold.

In short the evidence is that there is no level of crime to which the U.S. is not prepared to descend. If the U.S. believed that it could eliminate the economic challenge from China by launching an atomic war there is no evidence that the U.S. would not do so. Furthermore, while there are certainly anti- war movements in the U.S. these are not remotely strong enough to prevent the use by the U.S. of nuclear weapons if it decided to do so. In short there are no adequate internal constraints in the U.S. that would prevent it launching war against China.

But if there are no fundamental internal constraints on U.S. aggression there are, of course, very great external constraints. The first is the possession of nuclear weapons by other countries. That is why the explosion of China’s first nuclear bomb in 1964 is rightly regarded as a great national achievement. The possession by China of nuclear weapons is a fundamental deterrent to a nuclear attack by the U.S. on China. Nevertheless, unlike the U.S., China has a “no first use” of nuclear weapons policy showing its restraint and the defensive military posture of China. Also, as already discussed, Russia possesses a nuclear arsenal which is the equal of the U.S.

A full-scale nuclear war involving the U.S./China/Russia would, of course, be a a military catastrophe without precedent in human history – in a full scale such war at a minimum hundreds of millions would die. It would therefore be infinitely preferable to prevent the escalation of U.S. miliary aggression before it reached that point. What, therefore, are the chances of doing so?

What constrains U.S. policy?

To analyse this, it is necessary to see the overall trend of U.S. policy since World War II. This shows a rational and logical pattern. When the U.S. feels in a strong position its policy is aggressive, when it feels weakened it becomes more “peace loving”. This was shown most dramatically before, during and after the Vietnam War but also in other periods.

Immediately after World War II the U.S. considered itself in a strong position. It was therefore prepared to carry out aggression in Korea. Even after the U.S. failure to win the Korean war it still felt confident enough to attempt to diplomatically isolate China during the 1950s and 1960s—depriving it of its position in the U.N., blocking direct diplomatic relations etc. However, due to the Vietnam war, waged as struggle for national liberation by the Vietnamese people but sustained by large scale military support from China and the USSR, the U.S. suffered severe defeats. To attempt to overcome this weakening position the U.S. turned to a far less aggressive policy to China—symbolised by Nixon’s 1972 visit to Beijing, followed by establishment of full diplomatic relations with China. Soon after 1972 the U.S. opened the policy of “détente” with the USSR.

In summary, the weakening of the U.S. due to its defeat in Vietnam, led to it adopting a more “peace loving” policy. However, by the 1980s, having regrouped and recovered after defeat in Vietnam, the U.S. returned to a more aggressive policy towards the USSR under Reagan. In summary when the U.S. was weak it was peaceful, when it was strong it was aggressive.

The international financial crisis

On a less immediately serious field than military conflict the same pattern for the U.S. can be seen around the international financial crisis starting in 2007/8. This crisis dealt a huge blow to the U.S. economy, as a result of which the U.S. began to emphasise international cooperation. The U.S. helped create the G20 group of countries, in particular it displayed a cooperative attitude to China in the area of the international economy etc. Because it felt weak the U.S. became “peaceful”.

But as the U.S. economically recovered from the international financial crisis it became increasingly aggressive to China—culminating in the launch of the trade war against China by Trump. That is, as soon as the U.S. felt itself stronger it became aggressive. That is, once again, when the U.S. felt weak it was “peaceful” as soon as it felt itself strong it became aggressive.

Comparison to the run up to World War II

Turning to an historical comparison it is also useful to make a comparison to the period leading to World War II. The immediate path to that war started with the strengthening of Japanese militarism leading to the invasion of North East China in 1931. This was followed by the coming to power of Hitler in Germany in 1933. But despite these ominous events the path to World War was not inevitable. The road from these first victories by Japanese militarism and German fascism to world war was created by a series of defeats and capitulations between 1931 and 1939 and failure to confront the Japanese militarists and German Nazis.

In Asia the Kuomintang concentrated its efforts for most of the 1930s not on repelling Japan but on fighting the CPC, while the U.S. failed to intervene to stop Japan until it was itself attacked at Pearl Harbour in 1941. In Europe Britain and France failed to stop the re-militarisation of Germany even when they had the right to do so under the Treaty of Versailles, they failed to support the legitimate government of Spain in 1936 against the fascist coup and civil war launched by Franco who was supported by Hitler, and they directly capitulated to Hitler in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in the notorious Munich Pact of 1938. Japan and Germany could have been stopped by firm action before a global war, but capitulations and defeats cleared the way to World War II.

This is the same pattern as today. The world is certainly not in a comparable situation to 1938, that is only a year away from a World War. If comparison was made to the 1930s the situation is more like 1931. Today support for an aggressive world war certainly does not have majority support in the U.S. discussion of the possibility of launching it exists so far only in a minority/fringe of some sectors of the U.S. foreign policy/military establishment. If the U.S. suffers defeats, it will certainly not move to frontal war with China or Russia.

But the medium-term danger exists that, as after Japan’s invasion of North East China in 1931 and Hitler’s coming to power in 1933, if the U.S. gains victories in more limited struggles it will be more encouraged, under the pressure of the forces analysed earlier, to move towards a major global military conflict. Therefore, the decisive issue to prevent such a global conflict, and to protect peace, is to ensure that the U.S. does not have victory in these immediate struggles—such as the war it provoked in Ukraine, its attempt to undermine the One China policy in regard to Taiwan and other issues.

Forces against U.S. military aggression

In the framework already analysed there are two powerful forces which oppose U.S. military aggression.

The first, and most powerful, is the development of China itself. China’s economic development is not merely crucial for the improvement of the living standards of China’s own people but it will eventually create military forces as powerful as the U.S—which will be the ultimate deterrent to U.S. military aggression.

The second is the opposition of a large number of countries, including the majority of the world’s population, to this U.S. aggression not merely from moral viewpoint but direct self-interest. The U.S. attempt to overcome the consequences of its economic failures by military/political means necessarily means actions against the interests of numerous other countries which comprise the great majority of the world’s population. For example the U.S. creation of the war in Ukraine by the attempt to expand NATO has led to a massive increase in world food prices because Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest supplier of wheat and fertilizer, the ban on Huawei from participation in 5G telecommunications development means that the inhabitants of every country that agrees to this pays more for their telecommunications, the U.S. pressure to force Germany to buy U.S. Liquid Natural Gas, instead of Russian natural gas, raises energy prices in Germany, in Latin America the U.S. attempts to prevent countries pursuing policies of national independence, U.S. tariffs against China’s exports even raises the cost of living for U.S. households. The fact that, in practice, the population of other countries are being forced to finance U.S. military aggressive policy necessarily leads to opposition to such policies.

These two forces, China’s own development and the fact that U.S. policy is against the interests of the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, therefore constitute the main obstacles to U.S. aggression—and they obviously reinforce each other. Nevertheless, while the resistance of the world’s population to U.S. policy is a powerful force in the situation, the single most powerful force of all is China’s own development—due to the enormous sacrifices and victories gained by the Chinese people since the creation of the CPC and the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, the single most crucial force in the situation is the development of China itself. But, to be most powerful , this must be linked to the international opposition of the majority of the world’s population which is struck by U.S. aggression.

Precisely integrating this development of China itself with international forces opposing U.S. attacks on them is therefore the most crucial task in assessing the global situation. This overall framework can be clearly understood from outside, but only those who have access to all the information which is available at the level of state leadership can accurately judge all the precise steps and policies necessary in this.

The choices for the U.S.

As was analysed in the previous article 俄罗斯发起军事行动是在保卫中国的西部防线? the coming period is very dangerous for humanity. There is an historical analogy to the present situation of the U.S. in the notorious statement in 1912 of German Chief of Staff Moltke that “war is unavoidable and the sooner the better.” This, from Germany’s viewpoint, was entirely rational. Russia and the US’s economies were growing more rapidly than Germany—inevitably leading them to becoming militarily stronger than Germany. Therefore, Moltke called for war as soon as possible.

Today the danger not only to China but to humanity is that the U.S., being defeated in peaceful economic competition, is under pressure to increasingly turn to military aggression. As was analysed at the beginning of this article this process has already started. The U.S. has been prepared to escalate from military attacks on developing countries to willingness to provoke a conflict with a Great Power, Russia, which possesses nuclear weapons. The U.S. has simultaneously decided to apply maximum pressure to its “allies”, such as Germany, to damage their own interests by subordinating themselves to U.S. policy.

However, the U.S. is still hesitant, evidently analysing the situation, regarding how much it can risk escalating its military aggression. The U.S. provoked the Ukraine war by the threat to extend NATO into Ukraine, and it is engaging in massive proxy support to Ukraine’s military forces. But the U.S. has not yet dared to directly commit its military forces to the war in Ukraine. This shows that while the U.S. is probing a qualitive escalation of its military aggression to being against Great Powers, it is still not sure whether to fully deploy this.

This clearly directly affects Russia and China’s relations and makes the outcome of the war in Ukraine crucial. Russia and China on good terms are a formidable economic and military obstacle to U.S. threats of war. Therefore, the central strategic goal of U.S. policy is to separate Russia and China if this can be achieved then the U.S. will attack them individually including using military strength.

The Ukraine war and the overall international situation

Summarising this global situation, the Ukraine crisis naturally shows specific national features. But it is also the manifestation of an escalating U.S. international military policy which is created by the economic weakening of the U.S. while it continues to have military strength. The dynamic which flows from this situation is that the U.S. policy of military escalation will continue unless it suffers external defeats. In short, U.S. military escalation, from a willingness to attack developing countries to preparedness to cross the red lines of a great power, such as Russia, is not temporary but is determined by the overall situation of the U.S. It means this aggression will be directed also against China.

It also means the U.S. cannot be stopped by anti-war opposition within the United States, or by opposition from its “allies”. It can only be stopped by a combination of China’s strength and opposition from the great majority of humanity and countries which are damaged by U.S. policy—this great majority of humanity is concentrated in the Global South. Within these two forces opposing U.S. aggression, the development of China itself is the most powerful.


In conclusion.

  • Regrettably, but as the only realistic view of the global situation, it must be anticipated that the U.S. will increase its aggressive actions towards China, as well as towards other countries, not only on the economic field but in particular by direct and indirect use of U.S. military power.
  • The S. will hesitate in this aggression only when it suffers defeats. Naturally every opening to develop such “peaceful” turns by the U.S. must be taken advantage of. But it should be realised that the U.S. policy during such periods, when it has suffered defeats, will attempt to regroup its forces to launch a new aggressive policy.
  • Defeating this S. aggression depends in the first place on the overall domestic development of China—in the economic, military and all other fields.
  • This domestic strengthening of China is also in the interests of other countries suffering from S. aggression.
  • After China’s own domestic development, the most important force blocking S. aggression is the opposition of the majority of the world’s population and countries whose position is worsened by U.S. policy.
  • The degree to which U.S. miliary based aggression, both direct and indirect, will intensify, will depend on how much the S. is defeated in individual struggles—the more the U.S. is successful the more aggressive it will become, the more it is weakened the more “peace loving” it will become.
  • In the short term the outcome of the war in Ukraine will therefore be crucial. If the U.S. is successful in this war the more aggressive it will become against If, however, the U.S. suffers a setback in this war the more it will be setback in its attack on China.

Inevitably the precise details of U.S. aggressive policy cannot be seen in advance. But the overall escalating course of U.S. aggression, unless it suffers defeats of the type analysed, clearly follows from its combination of economic weakening and military strength.

This article by John Ross (Luo Siyin) was also published in slightly edited form in Guancha as “It’s pointless to count on American ‘kindness’.”

John Ross is a senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He was formerly director of economic policy for the mayor of London.

MR Online, April 25, 2022,