The U.S. is focusing its imperialist strategy on weakening China. Its consequences are both global and often unexpected.
Is there anybody in this room that does not believe that China is an adversary of the United States, has every plan possible to become a world power at our detriment? Is there anybody that doesn’t believe that?
The room in question was the U.S. Congress; speaker Paul Mitchell, a Republican representative from Michigan; and the context was the unanimous approval of the new National Defence Authorisation Act/a> which re-arms the U.S. military against a clear enemy: China.
The anti-Chinese focus of US trade, military and diplomatic policy is already part of the consensus between Democrats and Republicans. Seamlessly. Both parties are competing with each other over being tougher against the common enemy, as in the darkest days of the cold war, to the point that preventing Chinese capital from accessing the capital markets is already under discussion. The new political determination has consequences far beyond the relations between the two giants.
The focus on China is prioritizing the external conflicts of the US
It rearranges U.S. imperialist rivalries into a hierarchy. The global objective remains the balance of trade, but the strategic means are first and foremost to weaken China, secondarily to re-confine Russia and finally to contain Iran, Turkey and any other element contributing to uncertainty. And this new determination will reshape global maps.
Beginning with Libya, where US is maneuvering and pushing to disband Haftar’s army in favor of a more or less rapid negotiated solution. At this point Haftar is increasingly dependent on Russian mercenaries who have taken control of key oil facilities. For the first time, Turkey and the US share a clear common goal in Libya: to evict these mercenaries. The main stumbling block in the meantime is that, after an incident with the Turkish navy, France has abandoned the NATO mission which was trying to prevent Turkey from introducing weapons for its Tripoli allies. France’s abrupt break with the mission and the a href=”https://www.dw.com/es/otan-turqu%C3%ADa-y-francia-en-guerra-de-palabras/a-54033546″>verbal escalation with Turkey that has followed it left NATO in disarray with the US approaching Turkey and the EU opening the door to a new package of sanctions against Ankara.
The relationship with Iran is also changing. The move from direct confrontation and military threat to targeted terrorism against nuclear facilities may not appear to be a dramatic change. But with the US limiting itself to containing the development of atomic weapons the territorially consolidated Houthis see an opportunity and turn to Saudi Arabia seeking to negotiate an end to the war in Yemen. In their favor: the brutal recession in Saudi Arabia, and the decision of the US Congress to keep hindering Trump’s ability to maintain military aid to Riyadh, even more clearly in the new context.
Europe is distancing itself… but not that far
The centrality of the confrontation with China in the strategy of American capital, on the other hand, leads to a fracture with Europe. This has been evidenced by the reactions to the Hong Kong Security Law. The EU has certainly been lukewarm. The US has only found strong support in Britain and Australia, which have raised the tone to warmongering levels, applied sanctions and promised residence and prompt nationality to three million Hong Kongers.
The EU wants to reduce its unhealthy dependence on China but recognizes HK as part of China and – in a similar way to what happened with Kosovo, many member states believe that it would be a dangerous precedent to normalize foreign powers taking sides with separatist forces because they could legitimize the US’ actions if it were tempted to play similar cards on European soil in the future.
This does not mean, however, that the European powers are not willing to play hardball with China. Germany joined the US in the UN Security Council this week to block the routine condemnation of the Karachi stock exchange bombing that Pakistan and China had presented together. The links between the terrorists and the Indian intelligence services are so obvious that the New Delhi government considered the mere condemnation an “anti-Indian plot”. This unexpected German help comes at a time making it more than symbolic.
The current context of military “de-escalation” at the China-India border is that… not only is there no de-escalation but the possibility of Pakistan opening a second front is growing by the day. Although China has responded to the extensive Indian economic reprisals – ranging from civil works to mobile phone apps– with a globalist argument about consumers and investors, it is aware that the situation goes much further. India is re-arming itself even faster and not just for deterrence.
The difficult realignment of regional rivalries
If the EU neither aligns itself clearly after the US nor asserts an imperialist line of its own, it is because Germany has not aligned itself yet, let alone disciplined the EU member states to meet its strategic needs. For several weeks now, Merkel has been pushing and giving increasingly pessimistic statements about the negotiation of “reconstruction” funds. And these negotiations are not progressing. Even the French help does not seem to have any effect.
And as if that were not enough, the round of talks with Britain has ended without any progress as well. Merkel opened the rotating presidency of the European Council by saying that the EU should be prepared for a rough Brexit.
The European situation is far from singular. Yesterday’s virtual Mercosur summit, in which Paraguay left the rotating presidency to Uruguay, looked like an ambush and a dramatization of the isolation that Brazil wants to impose on Argentina. As if a well aligned Paraguay and Uruguay were not enough, Piñera, Duque and the Bolivian president had been invited. Bolsonaro followed the script and ignored Fernández, but in the end, an unexpected Uruguay-Argentina alliance worked to contain Brazil and ensure that the future of Mercosur would allow for differences in imperialist alignment.
We are also talking about a Mercosur without ideological positions regarding this new world and the tension between the US and China. I don’t think we should choose between the US and China. In fact, we have to choose both.
Something similar happens in the Middle East too. Nor China is enough to replace the role of US purchases and capital, nor can they do without them. Especially in the middle of a recession.
The result is the same everywhere: the fracture between the US and China can deepen but it only drags regional powers with direct territorial conflicts with Beijing… which in turn drives the imperialist conflicts to reproduce within each national bourgeoisie without reaching a realignment or at the cost of serious internal confrontations.