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article imageOp-Ed: China, the new, improved bogeyman for US election escapism

By Paul Wallis     Nov 21, 2011 in World
Sydney - Apparently insulting the intellect of the US voter is back in fashion. China is now the new external threat for various political reasons. China is responsible for US unemployment; China is a military threat; China is hacking our secrets, and so on.
The New York Times has an interesting piece showing how far US politicians and others are prepared to go to shift focus, blame and responsibility away from themselves.
The New York Times:
As President Obama returned Sunday from a trip to Asia that was filled with signs that the United States plans to be a counterweight to Beijing’s growing influence in that region, Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates have stepped up their denunciation of China’s trade practices, casting the country as predatory and a culprit for lost jobs at home.
This is cute. Insane, incorrect to the point of being a blatant contradiction of facts and totally insincere, but cute. The GOP’s ever-so-patriotic corporate friends were happily shipping US jobs and manufacturing to China and elsewhere for decades and making billions. They still are. Now, 20 years after the maquiladoras and the Asian sweatshops for big name fashion brands and the wholesale move of Western manufacturing to China, China is the problem.
The US has no chance of “counterweighting” the various China/overseas Chinese connections. These trade connections are centuries old. Asia, like the rest of the world, is doing business with China because it’s now very good business. All this talk is pure spin for people whose attention span must be practically non-existent.
This is a case in point:
In a CBS News poll last month, 61 percent of people said the economic expansion of China was “generally bad” for the United States. Only 15 percent said it was “generally good.”
So everybody buys Chinese made goods, US corporations pick up most of the cash (about 20c in the dollar actually goes to China) and that’s bad. The jobs created by selling and distributing these goods are irrelevant, so there.
Then there’s the military argument, and a specious, self-serving thing it is. The Chinese “military buildup” is in fact a rebuild from the military structures of 30-50 years ago. Some people may have forgotten that a US surveillance plane collided with a flying fossil a few years back. Nowhere else on Earth outside Africa would that Chinese plane have been considered a working interceptor for anything more modern than a paper dart. A lot of the PLA’s inventory belongs in a museum, and they know it. They’ve been buying off the shelf stuff and some good Sukhois to cover the gaps in viable frontline hardware.
That, however, hasn’t altered the rhetoric. Taiwan, for example, is an area where Chinese and American pseudo- military talkfests bloom like used toilet paper. Taiwanese business is currently supplying a million assembly line robots to deal with the issues related to the hideous 19th century workhouse conditions in some Chinese factories. The business relationship between the PRC and Taiwan is fine, thanks.
The US military presence in Asia is still incomprehensibly based on Cold War deployments. That’s like posting troops in case World War One breaks out again. The US focus happens to be in South Asia, and has been for the last 10 years. Iran is the big issue these days, in case people have forgotten. The deployments in northern Asia have one actual hotspot in Korea, otherwise they’re largely irrelevant.
The Japanese have been saying for years they’d prefer not to have US bases. The US Navy is perfectly capable of handling any sudden actual deployments in the north as required, anyway, but why let reality get in the way of a good story? Everything else is about keeping the Good ‘Ol Bores in defence contracting supplied with the necessities of life at great expense.
The hacking equation is interesting. Every country on Earth has cyber intelligence units. Organized crime is believed to control millions of bots. But no, nobody but China could possibly be hacking US sites. The US itself does not hack, and Santa will be wearing Spandex this Christmas because it does wonderful things for the figure. Of course China has an interest in military and economic intelligence. Where are they supposed to get it, from Rush Limbaugh?
The fact is that cyber intelligence is an extension of normal intelligence work. You get information any way you can.
Ironically, the shift of focus to an external threat is an old propaganda trick. If you don’t want to mention the enemy within because it happens to be you, you can always invent a threat.
There’s one final note which says so much from the NYT article:
While Chinese officials are sophisticated enough to understand the posturing in Republican primaries, Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China adviser to President Bill Clinton, said that on a recent visit to Beijing, several of them expressed worry to him about the tone of the campaign. China is in its own delicate leadership transition and has a restive military eager to flex its muscles.
Shades of 1950. “Sophisticated enough” to understand the GOP? Wow, did they do a course in dragging their eyebrows along the ground, or something? A “restive military eager to flex its muscles”? Yep, all they coolies must be a-sharpening of they pitchforks, Ma. Who the hell are they going to attack? They’re surrounded by virtual client states worth billions a day to them and there’s no mileage at all in picking a stupid local firefight with anyone else.
Yep, it's 12 months till the US elections. Everybody knows you can't get any sense out of anyone in the US in an election year and that reality is entirely selective for this period. This load of garbage simply proves it. China happens to be the USA's biggest trading partner, whether anyone's campaign manager and PR zombies are prepared to admit it or not. US corporations are donating to US politicians using money they got from their deals with China.
Keep talking, guys, maybe Lewis Carroll can get another book out of this drivel.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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