Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Conflict with China (3) Problem Repeated

Now the process of stirring up xenophobic fear seems to be happening all over again between the US and China. Again, we need a bit of history to get perspective.

China has never invaded the United States, but the United States has invaded China. During the gunboat crisis in the 19th century, the United States, the United Kingdom and France all invaded China to force them to open up their markets to Western exports. British merchants gained a monopoly of imports of opium into China, ie the British became the official drug dealer for China, which did terrible harm to Chinese society.

The invading armies from the West wrecked Chinese cities and looted wealth. They imposed trade regulations that hugely benefited the West and impoverished the Chinese. The British seized control of several Chinese cities, with US support.

The British and American people have forgotten these events, but the Chinese have not. They are determined not to let it happen again. That is why they are hostile to the US naval patrols in the South China Sea. Their strategy is “area denial”, which means keeping American aircraft carriers at arm’s length. They don’t want the United States being in a place where they could do it again.

The moral balance tilts one way, when we remember all the good stuff that we have done but forget everything bad that we have done, while focusing only on the bad that our enemies have done.

The Chinese have stolen some US technology, but they are just doing what they US did to them, and to others. Following the industrial revolution, British industrialists were upset because American businesses were stealing their technology. Ironically, American businesses are now complaining about the Chinese doing what they did to the British.

The Chinese have invaded Tibet, but they were just doing what the United states did when it advanced into the West and took control of the native people living there, or when America gained Texas and part of California from Mexico by force.

The Chinese government has many faults, but it has lifted a billion people out of poverty in a half a century. That has never been done before in human history, so we should be glad about that.

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