China is the new Russia and there is nothing the Chinese can do about it
After years of Russia bashing it’s now Chinas turn. It is more logical, as China is the real competitor for the US on the global stage. It has the economy roughly the same size in nominal terms and a bigger one if one looks at purchasing power. It is the factory of the world, and there is no denying it when the whole world is importing medical equipment from them in the heat of the Covid-19 crisis. China doesn’t yet have the military power to balance Americans but is slowly moving to that point. Its military budget is of course misleading because China can buy lots more equipment and pay more soldiers for the $, as the US can.
Russia is still a great power, but it can’t really compare with the US. It hasn’t got the population or the economy. It has the size, the biggest nuclear arsenal, and some top-notch military technology, but in the conventional sense, it simply doesn’t have the numbers. Americans can always count on their NATO allies, which makes Russian position vis-a-vis Washington bad if it comes to a real war. Which, hopefully, will not be the case.
After the 2016 US presidential elections, one part of the American political sphere used the allegations against Russia, that it influenced their elections, to deflect from soul searching, how a primitive, often comical rich man and game show host, defeated their best and brightest. What followed, were years of media bombshells manipulating a part of the US population in believing, their president is very close to being pushed out of the office and Russian meddling proved without a doubt. It didn’t happen and Trump is still in office and the US media mostly lost interests, after it became clear, this strategy doesn’t work.
But there is more behind Russia bashing. Are we to believe, there wasn’t a more sinister reason for it than the alleged influence on US voters with Facebook ads and twitter trolls? No, it was clear, Russia was a target of a more aggressive US foreign policy way before the 2016 US presidential elections. The goal was to isolate them, impose sanctions, build coalitions against them and break them down, so they wouldn’t present a danger to the US hegemony in Europe or elsewhere. We have seen that in Ukraine and how that country unraveled with the help of western agents.
It is the same now with China. The US establishment doesn’t care about human rights in the world, or they wouldn’t have supported countries like Saudi Arabia. Blaming China for Covid-19 is also just a deflection. They had enough time and information to prepare, yet they didn’t. No, the real reason for ever more aggressive rhetoric against China is that it poses a threat, and Trump and the people around him have identified it as such years ago.
China is the new Russia. It is a target for media manipulations, threats are issued, sanctions prepared and coalitions built around the world, to isolate them and impend their economic growth. The media, which doesn’t care about the situation in Bolivia or Chile, will put a spotlight on Hong Kong protests. The politician, which doesn’t give a fig about the Khashoggi murders, will prance about religious right is China. And there will be those, who will call for moving production out of China, not back to the US, but instead into some other poor country, so their profits are not endangered.
There is not much the Chinese can do. Propaganda in the US has already turned most of the American population very hostile and this trend will spread around the English speaking countries like the United Kingdom and Australia. There will be more threats and sanctions and American ships will cruise close to Chinese coasts in a signal, they can do whatever they want. A trade war is likely. Like Russians before them, Chinese will find themselves a target of media hits, that will often be ridiculous, but will still have an impact on the target audience. They will have to decouple from the US and just like Russia, find ways to absorb all the shocks, that will undoubtedly come. Most likely they will have to face an arms race. That is something Americans are considering and not only because they think they won the cold war against the Soviet Union that way, which is false, but because increased spending could help kick start the US economy.
If there isn’t much the Chinese can do about the US attitude, they can work on other countries in the world, among them even some European ones. There are many people, who want to keep open doors for trade and are in no mood for a new cold war. As long as Trump is president, this is easier done, just because most of the world doesn’t like his unilateral ways. With a democratic president, the US will have more options and China less. All in all, the Chinese will have to keep their alliance with Russia, maybe even deepen it and build a system of trade and diplomacy with as many countries in the world they can. The goal must be, something Americans fear, to bind them to China, so they have more incentive to cooperate and not move into the opposing camp. China must become the center of the global economy while act in a most unthreatening way, so as not to push potential partners away.
It won’t be easy. Americans have a lot of soft power. They can use their media, their entertainment industry, to sway large numbers of people against China, to portray them most negatively. Chinese, on the other hand, lacks all that. There simply isn’t much penetration from their side. Most of the world doesn’t watch Chinese films and series or listen to their news. We have seen, how hard it is to break the Western media monopoly in the case of Russian media and how quickly they got smeared as fake news.
There is one more problem. Many Chinese will have a hard time accepting, that the US is out to harm them and that they are a target just because they developed too quickly and became a center of the global economy. They will try to push out and build bridges, give concessions, even opposing their government, anytime they will feel their reaction is to harsh. Even more, some government officials themselves will believe, that there is a way to resolve this peacefully and if they just don’t react, all will be well. There will be that misleading belief, that if they change just a little, this will lead to better US attitude. It won’t. This isn’t about human rights or misplaced fears, it is about the status of the US as the first power in the world and thy won’t give up that easily.
The Chinese will have to learn that just as the Russians had to.