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China ‘threat’ or threat to China?

Published Jul 28, 2005 2:17 AM

After three months of inner struggle and delay, the Pentagon has issued a belligerent report on China. The report, which raises the prospect of the so-called “China threat,” is itself a threat—to China.

This report comes at a time of growing anti-China political currents in Washington. Belligerent trade bills aimed at China’s exports into this country are sitting in Congress. A number of bills aimed at blocking the prospect of the purchase of the Unocal oil company by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Com pany (CNOOC) are making their way through the legislature.

The Pentagon report stokes the anti-China fires building up in the political and military establishment.

The report warns that the balance of power in the Taiwan Straits is “shifting towards Beijing” and declares that “current trends in China’s military modernization could provide China with a force capable of prosecuting a range of military operations in Asia—well beyond Taiwan—potentially posing a credible threat to modern militaries operating in the region.”

It accuses China of spending $90 billion on the military, three times the figure China announced this year.

First of all, China has clearly stated its intention to keep the renegade province of Taiwan from permanently separating itself from China. Taiwan was set up as a U.S. dependency after U.S.-backed counter-revolutionary forces were driven from the mainland in 1949. Since then, Washington and the Pentagon has used Taiwan independence as a threat against China. China has never deviated from this position. The present report warns, “China must fear U.S. military intervention in any conflict over Taiwan.”

Second of all, regardless of inflated Pentagon estimates of the Chinese military—which are aimed at getting more money from Congress for the Pentagon budget—China has every right and need to modernize its armed forces to cope with “modern militaries operating in the region.” Those “modern militaries” belong to Washington and Tokyo, two imperialist predators bent on dominating the region. Both have long histories of aggression against China.

Third of all, as the Chinese People’s Daily has pointed out, Chinese defense spending amounts to $25 billion while U.S. military spending is $455.9 billion or 17.8 times larger than China’s. On a per capita basis, it is 77 times greater than China’s. After all, China has one-fifth of the human race.

This report is timed to coincide with Pentagon requests for military spending. With all the emphasis on the so-called “war on terrorism,” there is the danger that hugely expensive and highly profitable weapons systems designed for large-scale warfare will come up short.

According to the Los Angeles Times of July 20, a senior defense official said, “You look at the Air Force’s briefings, and they are all China, China, China ...” The hundreds of billions for aircraft and high-tech destroyers need a “threat” to aim at.

This potentially earthshaking conflict that is developing has been low-keyed in the big business media. But the anti-war movement and the working class movement must take careful note of this growing bellicose attitude at the highest levels of the Pentagon and U.S. imperialist strategic planning. No one should fall into the anti-China trap.

The threat to the peace in Asia and everywhere else in the world is right here in the White House and the Pentagon.