In Anchorage, Alaska, on 18-19 March 2021, top diplomats of China and the U.S. met and declared the new Cold War. The U.S. side was represented by Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State and Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, while China was represented, by Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister and Yang Jiechi, top diplomat of China.
Anthony Blinken said ” China’s actions pose a threat to a rule-based order designed to maintain global stability:”
Translation: “You unthankful China, listen carefully! Do not dare challenge the world in which Washington feels comfortable. Otherwise!” This is the declaration of the cold war.
On his part, Wang Yi said: “Beijing is firmly against US interference in domestic affairs. We will take firm actions in our response.” “Most countries in the world do not recognize US values as global values.”
Translation: “Listen You Washington,. China has done a lot for you. China has something to tell you! China has had enough of your bullying. If Washington wants to fight, well, China is ready!
On March 22, Wang Yi, foreign minister of China and Sergei Lavrov, foreign minister of Russia met to protest against Washington’s sanction imposed on Russia and China.
Next day, on March 23, Xi Jinping, president of China and Kim Jong-un, president of North Korea exchanged letters for mutual cooperation.
This is the beginning of China’s recruiting of cold war alliances.
All these events mean one thing.
The Global Cold War has begun and the world will be divided once again between the West and the East and the Cold War is likely to become Global Hot War and we will be all dead.
Before I begin, I would like tell this to Beijing and Washington!
In 2020, the combined GDP of China and the U.S. was 35 trillion USD, or 42% of the global GDP of 84 trillion USD.
You China and the U.S. listen! You have become rich and powerful, because the world has worked hard for you.
The world has provided low-cost labour, high quality raw materials and people’s precious savings; the world has bought your products.
Remember! The world belongs to every human being and every country.
Please behave like responsible global super powers. You have no right to ruin the world with your hegemonic fight.
So, China and the U.S. please stop the dreadful cold war and take responsibility of assuring global peace, safety and prosperity.
In this paper, I am asking these questions.
- Why does Washington declare the new cold war now?
- What are the American objectives of the cold war?
- What are the cold war Strategies of the U.S. and China?
- Can Washington win the cold war?
- Can the hot war happen?
- What will be the impact of the Sino-American war on the humanity?
Why does Washington declare the New Cold War Now?
There are two possible reasons for Washington’s decision to declare the Cold war against China, a war which actually began since Barack Obama’s Asia Pivot.
The first reason is that Joe Biden needs an enemy dangerous enough to unify the American people and to deal with the impossible task of restoring the economy and justify the raison d’être of the existence of the government.
The Pearl Harbour attack was devastating enough to wake up the sleeping Americans to unite and follow the Washington’s leadership.
But I wonder if the Chinese challenge is grave enough to unify the Americans and trust Washington and cooperate for the policy of restoring the economy.
The second reason is more convincing.
It is matter of coping with the Chinese economic threat when China’s military challenge is still manageable.
The Chinese economy is catching up with the U.S. economy at a threatening rate, while the Chinese military capability is still far weaker than American military capacity.
In other words, Washington has decided to hit hard Beijing when it is still a weak attacker and get rid of the economic threat.
I have done some calculations to see the evolution of economic and military power of the two super powers.
I have assumed that the Chinese GDP will increase per year, at a compound growth rate of 5 %, from US$ 15.42 trillion in 2020 to $ 24.98 trillion in 2031, or a cumulated increase of 62%.
As for the United States, it is assumed that its GDP will increase by 2% a year from $20.93 trillion in 2020 to $25.32 trillion in 2031, or cumulated increase of 21%.
This means that, in 2020, the Chinese GDP was 73.6% of the U.S. GDP to reach 98.7% in 2031.
This is surely threatening to Washington.
Thus, the Chinese GDP is expected to catch up with the U.S. economy in ten years.
But, we have a different picture as far as military strength is concerned.
We have examined the 10-year evolution of national defence budget of the two countries.
It is assumed that the share of the defence budget in the GDP will remain the same throughout the 10 year period.
The Chinese 2020 national defence share was 1.15% of GDP yielding $ 178 billion.
In 2031.The Chinese defence budget will be $287 billion.
Now, for the U.S. in 2020, the national defence budget was $730 billion, or 3.6% of GDP, this rate is applied for 2031 to get $911 billion.
This means that despite rapid rise, the Chinese catching up for the defence budget is much slower than the case of GDP.
In fact, in 2020, the amount of Chinese national defence expenditures was 24.5% of that of the American national defence budget to increase only to 30.2% in 2031.
This may allow Washington to feel safe as far as the Chinese military threat is concerned.
So, Washington’s strategy is to strike China before the Chinese economy catches up with the U.S. economy while Beijing’s is still “militarily weak”.
What are the Objectives of the U.S. initiated Cold War?
The principal objectives of the Cold War is to prevent China from becoming a Global Power threatening the cumulated interests of the U.S. and its allies.
What are the Cold War Strategies of the U.S. and China?
The weapons of the New Cold War are likely to include the following:
- Security Alliance War
- Ideological War
- Economic War
- Security War
Security Alliance War
The security alliance is designed to maximize the “friendly supports” for the country’s war efforts.
On this ground, the U.S. has a definite upper hand.
Actually, China has only a few alliances; its potential alliances would include North Korea, Russia, Cambodia, Myanmar and Pakistan.
But, there is no guarantee that these potential alliances will help China in a Sino-American war.
On the other hand, Washington has a lot of alliances.
The U.S. has many security alliances in the East Asian region: the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance, the U.S.-South Korea Security Alliance, the U.S.-Australia Security Alliance, the U.S.-the Philippines Security Alliance. The U.S. has security partnership with Singapore and Taiwan.
The U.S. has the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) composed of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S.
Moreover, there was the TPP (Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership) led by Washington. It had 12 member countries.
Since Trump withdrew, it has become CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership) with 11 member countries.
But, Biden might rejoin it, because it is supposed to be a free-trade alliance, but, in reality, it is a part of China-containment alliance. It includes five East Asian countries: Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. In addition, most of the East Asian countries have some sorts of security cooperation with Washington.
Thus, the U.S. has a lot of countries with which it has security related relations.
But, the question is whether these security alliances will join the U.S.-initiated anti-China war.
They may cooperate with Washington as long as the cold war remains cold.
However, what they should do is to persuade Washington to end the cold war, for it is the best way to keep their economy going in peace.
This is suggested by Graham Allison, the author of his famous book, “Destined for War: Can America and China escape Thucydides Trap?” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston-New York, 2017)
The purpose of the ideological was is to demonize the rival country in order to justify the country’s war on the one hand, and on the other, to maximize global support for the war.
The ideological war relies on the following weapons:
- Human Right Violations
- Freedom of the Press
- Violation of law-Based Rules
- Violation of the UNCLOS
Human Right Violations:
The U.S. accuses China for violating minority groups’ rights to maintain autonomous values and political system.
But, Beijing argues that it upholds the rights of minority groups.
China would say that it has to intervene in order to prevent minority regions from becoming independent, thus threatening the sovereignty of China.
China may ask Washington how it would react, if the State of Alaska fights for its separation from the United States.
Moreover, China openly criticises widespread human right violations in the U.S. against minority groups including the Black Africans, Native Indians and other minority groups.
The Canadian Human Right Commission defines human rights as the fundamental right of all human beings for a life of dignity, respect and equality.
Hence, all human beings have rights to enjoy public goods such as health, education, housing, racial equality, physical safety on the street.
These rights may be violated not only by the government but also by individuals and institutions.
Any government which fails to protect these rights is violator of human rights.
In the mainstream media, the perception of human rights violation is limited to the harsh measures taken by the government.
The human rights issue has become a political tool in international relations.
The debate on human rights issue should, on the contrary, focus on a solution to human rights violations rather than political gain.
In regards to Washington’s policy of China’s human rights violations, I am quite puzzled by its lack of consistency.
In fact, for decades since the time of Richard Nixon to the era of Barack Obama, human rights violations in China was not a major issue.
Joe Biden makes human right the key issues in Sino-American relations.
Why? Is it because he considers China as a threat to U.S. hegemony?
Freedom of the Press:
The American media criticizes China for lack of the freedom of press. It is true that the press in China is closely managed by the State in order to minimize criticism of government policies.
China may react by asking if there is freedom of press in the U.S. China may ask if the American press is free to criticize large corporations which finance the media.
Here, I may ask one question which may interest both China and the U.S.
Is the freedom of the press the raison d’être of the press?
What happens, if the free press is biased and behaves in such a way that it is harmful to the welfare of the ordinary people?
The Korean press is the freest press in the world, owing to the liberal policies of the government of Moon Jae-in.
Unfortunately 98% of the press present biased report, fabricate stories, publish lies in order to protect the corrupted vested interests of the conservatives cumulated for 70 years; the press is the integral part of the corruption; its sole purpose is to destroy the liberal government and retake the power so that it could enjoy the privileges and wealth provided by the corruption culture.
The freedom of press is important, but without political neutrality, it can hurt the nation.
In fact, in the context of the Sino-U.S. cold war, one of the most dangerous weapons is the press.
Unfortunately, the press gives itself the mission of demonizing the enemy through lies, biased reports, presenting prepared horror pictures.
In a way, the outcome of the New Cold War depends largely on the “press war”.
So, my humble wish is that the press in the U.S. and China give itself the mission of stopping the Sino-American cold war and not intensifying it.
If there is any universal consensus in the West, it is the belief that China does not respect law-based rules.
But, we seldom find any concrete incidences where China violates such rules.
The trouble is that rules cannot cover all things and all behaviours. Besides, rules must evolve in function of the need of the time.
There are hundreds of reports and research papers which give the impression that China does not respect the international rules.
But seldom do they point out which laws are violated.
If China is such a violator of international laws, how could it trade with other countries and how could it realize the economic miracle without respecting international laws?
Have any international institutions including IMF, WTO, WHO and other international institutions complained about China’s not respecting international laws?
China would react.
First, it may ask Washington to provide the actual cases of China’s rule violation.
In addition, China may add that most of the international rules being conceived and imposed by the U.S., they may not be suitable for countries of different cultures and judicial traditions.
Therefore, China might suggest a reform of the international laws more flexible and inclusive.
Another favourite pass time topic in Washington elite circle and media is the sins of China’s authoritarian regime.
This is rather amazing, because the U.S. is a lover of authoritarian regimes in numerous countries, provided these regimes are good boys obeying Washington’s command.
Washington loved General Park Chung-hee and General Jun Doo-hwan for their oppressive authoritarian regime, because they were obedient to Washington.
Chiang Kai-sek was a more than an authoritarian dictator in Taiwan, but he was an asset for America’s China policy.
China may tell the U.S. not to worry about the authoritarian character of the Chinese political regime.
China may tell Americans that the authoritarianism has been the core of Chinese values and culture.
Besides, as a country of 1.5 billion people with more than a hundred dialects and constant threats of [US supported] independence of minority regions, China needs a strong top-down authoritarian decision-making process.
China is accused also for its being assertive with its BRI project, its relations with ASEAN countries and, especially, its militarization of the South China Sea.
China is accused for its assertiveness in connection with its Belt-Road Initiative (BRI).
The often quoted incident of such assertiveness is the China’s debt-trap applied to Sri Lanka.
However, according to studies by Sri Lankans, the story of debt trap is a lie or misunderstanding by so-called China haters.
The project of the Hambantato Port was initiated by current prime minister (former president) in the early 2000s.
It was a purely commercial project and managed by a Chinese government-owned enterprise (GOE).
Sri Lanka excessively borrowed money from Western financial institutions including the IMF.
Sri Lanka’s debt was so high that the cost of servicing the debts represents 44% of government revenue; this is the debt trap which has nothing to do with the BRI.
In fact, Chinese loans represent mere 9% of Sri Lankan government debt.
The Hambantato Port is leased for 99 years managed by a Chinese enterprise, CMPort. Sri Lanka has to pay the debt to China for the loans.
By the way, the port cannot be used by Chinese navy.
China is accused also for bullying South East Asian countries.
This is contentious, according to several studies, these countries do not experience Chinese political assertiveness.
On the contrary, Chinese soft business diplomacy is greatly appreciated.
Moreover, China’s productive participation in the activities of ASEAN, APT (ASEAN plus Three), ARF (Asia Regional Forum), EAS (East Asia Summits), RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) Shangri-La Dialogue, and numerous FTAs is highly valued.
Even those countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam which have security cooperation with Washington do not feel the pressure of apparent Chinese assertiveness.
Chinese assertiveness which is the most criticized is its alleged military assertiveness.
To see more clearly the nature of China’s military assertiveness, we need to study its evolution, which shows that China’s assertiveness was the reaction to American assertiveness.
In 2008, The U.S. joined the TPSEP (Trans-pacific Strategic Economic Partnership) which became later the TPP (Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership) which was more a security alliances than FTA (Free Trade Agreement).
In March 2009, China was under surveillance by an American vessel’s surveillance activities near Hainan Island, the key Chinese navy port.
In September, 2009, the U.S. adopted the Air and Sea Battle (ASB) which was another threat to Chinese A2/AD (Anti-Air/Area-Denied) strategy.
In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the U.S. had interests in the South China Sea, meaning the strong military presence in Asia.
In 2012, Barack Obama announced the Asia-Pivot or “Rebalancing” of American military might in favour of the Asia-Pacific region.
It is important to point out here that this series of Washington’s assertive activities hostile to China inevitably invited China’s assertive actions.
In fact, in the period, 2013-2014, China extended its ADIZ (Air-Defence Identification Zone) to as far as the region of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island.
In September 2013, China started its Island-Building operations in the South China Sea.
In 2013, a Chinese navy vessel dangerously approached USS Cowpens, U.S. navy guided-missile destroyer.
Thus, Chinese assertiveness was, largely, the counter defensive actions to the American assertiveness.
In short, so called, Chinese assertiveness, cannot not be used for China denunciation.
The building of the South China Sea islands and the militarization of these islands have been the principal object of China demonization.
In fact, this operation started in 2013 and completed in 2016. Several reefs including the Mischief Reef, the Subi Reef and the Fiery Reef all became islands armed with missile launch facilities and airstrips for jet fighters.
The reason behind this operation may be the fear of blockade of the South China Sea by the U.S. and its allies, a military operation which will make China to starve to death.
Unfortunately, the American assertive actions followed by Chinese counter actions have inevitably led to the deterioration of the Washington-Beijing relations.
In 2014, Barack Obama visited Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore in order to strengthen the China containment operations.
What is disturbing is the fact that Barack Obama promised Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime minister, that the U.S. would be ready to intervene, if a Japan-China conflict took the form of military confrontation.
Obama did not, however, commit himself to US military intervention.
In contrast, Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, promised, during his recent visit to Japan, US military intervention in case of China-Japan confrontation involving the Diaoyu/Senkaku Island. This is indeed a dangerous decision on the part of the U.S.
Violation of UNCCLOS:
Another item on the China demonization menu is the theory that China does not respect the UNCLOS (UN Convention of the Law of Sea) and that China prevents free maritime traffic in the South China Sea.
But, there is no actual evidence of China’s violation of free maritime traffic in the South China Sea.
To sum up, the Sino-U.S. ideological war has failed to make China’s regime to deserve global suspicion and denunciation.
Washington has no assurance that the region’s neighbouring countries would rally behind the U.S. because of China’s regime and ideology.
This does not mean, however, that China is the winner. .
As I pointed out above, in ten years, Chinese economy will catch up with the U.S. economy assuming that the American GDP will increase by 2% per year, while the Chinese GDP will rise by 5% per year.
My assumptions may be wrong, but one thing which is certain is that China’s GDP will soon catch up with that of the US.
There are several reasons:
First, the Chinese per capita is about $11,000 meaning that there is a lot of room for further growth, while in the U.S. where the per capita GDP is $63,000 the potential growth is approaching its limit.
Second, under the intensification of the trade war, the diversification of trade partners becomes strategic.
The American trade partners being highly developed countries, the diversification of trade partners will not be a great help, whereas, China’s trade partners being Asian countries with high growth rate, its trade partner diversification will be an advantage.
Third, the U.S., the economy being dependent on high technology, economic growth is unable to create jobs and it creates unequal income distribution at the expense of ordinary Americans, which in the long run, it will slow down the growth of the American economy.
Fourth, the U.S. economy is excessively dependent on the domestic market, the strength of which is the consumer demand.
Remember that, in the U.S., the consumer demand accounts for as much as 70% of GDP as against 50% in China.
The consumer demand requires strong middle-income class. Unfortunately, in the U.S. the rising inequality of income distribution has almost destroyed the middle class, which will make it difficult to sustain the domestic market.
The COVID-19 crisis has worsened the problem. In short, it will be difficult to stop the Chinese economy from catching up with the American economy.
As we saw above, it is more than possible that by 2031, Chinese GDP will have caught up with the U.S. GDP.
Moreover, if China allocates 3% of its GDP, instead of the present 1.15 %, its military spending will be $ 749 billion, or 82% of Washington’s military expenditures.
The U.S. may beef up its striking force by deploying its 3rd fleet to strengthen the power of its Sea Air Battle (ASB). China will be able to improve its 2A/AD strategy.
So, there will be no clear cut winner.
Under such circumstance, God knows what will happen, if China and the U.S. start to “shoot one another”.
The message is clear.
The shooting war will bring the dooms day for us all.
The dooms day will come, if bloody cold war continues.
Can Washington win the Cold War?
The answer is: “it cannot.” There are several reasons.
First, it seems clear that none of the anti-China strategies will give clear upper hand to Washington.
In fact, none of the China demonization tactics, the economic war and the military confrontation promises Washington’s victory.
Second, since the fall of the Berlin Wall of 1989, the ideological difference has been much diluted.
Hence, the anti-China antagonism is much weaker than it was during the Soviet-U.S. cold war.
The implication is that Washington will have difficulties in ganging up its supporters, which will make American offensive uncertain victory.
Third, China being the world’s factory and the world’s consumer market, most of the U.S. allies will be reluctant to support the cold war.
Fourth, the decadence of the U.S.-led neo-liberal economic system and the world wide corruption of the American version of democracy will make it difficult to attract U.S. sympathisers.
In short, neither the U.S. nor China can be the winner.
In their cold war, there will be no winner.
If there is one, it will be the suffering of all humanity.
If the U.S. cannot win the cold war, that is, if it cannot prevent China from catching up the U.S. economy and the U.S. power, it means that Washington has failed to attain its objectives.
Then, Washington might decide to declare a hot war.
But, American generals and admirals know very well that China is not the (former) Soviet Union and that China is much stronger and richer than the Soviet Union.
Moreover, there will be few allies including the UK which will join Washington’s shooting war fight.
However, misguided political leaders might make dangerous decisions to venture into a “shooting war with China” to save the honour and the glory of the U.S.
At any rate, we must all try to stop the shooting war, because it will destroy what the humanity has built so far.
Thus, neither the U.S. nor China can win the cold war. The hot war will kill us all.
So, the only way out for Washington is to admit China as co-leader of the world and cooperate for the global security, safety, peace and prosperity.
There are so many areas where they should cooperate and lead including public health, climate change, natural disasters and terrorism.
There are so many global enemies that we need the U.S. and China to deal with these enemies.
Can the Hot War happen?
The hot war should not happen, but it can.
The possible flash points of shooting war are the South China Sea, the East China Sea, Taiwan, North Korea especially the Dioayu/Senkaku Island.
But, none of these flashpoint countries is likely to lead to shooting war with one exception, namely the Dioayu/Senkaku Island.
Major wars are often sparked by allies of major powers. Graham Allison in his Book (pp 34-38) tells us that the Peloponnesian war between Athena and Sparta, started because of the conflict between Corinth, alley of Sparta and Megara, alley of Athena.
In fact, for this reason, Allison is saying that Washington’s plan of expanding security alliances is a very risky game.
If there is any Washington’s ally which might ignite war with China, it will be Japan. (Graham Allison, pp.178-179)
There are many reasons.
But, I may point out two of them. First, Japan is a military might; its Self Defence Force (SDF) is the third most powerful military force in Asia and it will be much more strengthened by Washington, if the Cold War continues.
Incidentally, despite the Peace Constitution, the SDF can go to war and assist the U.S. forces. That is, Japan can participate in the Sino-American war.
The second reason is Japan’s ambition to rule the world.
For last 70 years, Japan has been ruled by far-right imperial nationalist conservatives who dream of reviving the Japan of the pre-WWII era.
This extreme right-wing of Japanese politics is inspired by the Japan Conference, led by imperialist symbolized by Shinzo Abe and encouraged by Washington, The Sino-American war provides a golden opportunity for Japan to rearm and realize its dream.
There are four psychic elements which might induce Japan to get into a war against China.
These elements are the Hak-Ko-Ichi-U, the Tanaka Memorial of 1929, Shintoism and Bushido.
The Hak-ko-Ichi-U means that the single roof (Japan) should rule the eight corners (the world).
This psychic was well represented by the Tanaka Memorial which argued that it was Japan’s sacred destiny to conquer Manchuria for raw materials using Korea as the royal high way to Manchuria, then conquer China for slave labour, then the rest of Asia, and then the U.S.(Pearl Harbour).
Shintoism is back and the Japanese accept the Emperor as God.
Bushido has returned and the Japanese people seek redemption by dying for the Emperor.
True, many of ordinary Japanese are free from such psychic, but they have no power to participate in Japan’s national policy.
What could happen is Japan’s provocation of military confrontation in the Dioayu/Senkaku Island.
Japan could be tempted to provoke war against China just like it did in Manchuria in 1930 and Nanking in 1937.
Moreover, Washington might welcome the Sino-Japan war, not only because it can ruin China and but also the fight between Asian powers would weaken Asia facilitating Washington’s control of Asia.
This is something the world should be concerned with.
To avoid this, the U.S. should dissolve its security alliance with Japan.
For that matter, to avoid shooting war, the U.S. should dissolve all its security alliances.
What we need is huge anti-war alliances including Japan, South Korea and other Washington’s alliances.
The same goes for Chinese alliances, although it has few alliances.
The ultimate mission of the anti-war alliances is to prevent the super powers from getting into war so that humanity can be saved from total annihilation.
What would be the Impact of the Sino-American War on humanity?
There is no point of talking about the consequences of a hot war, because it is bound to lead to nuclear war and the end of human civilization.
What interests us is the consequence of the cold war.
One thing sure is that the longer it lasts, greater become its negative impact.
The cold war is likely to have the following impacts.
- Globalization impact
- Political and ideological Impact
- Economic Impact
Globalization impact: the world will be de-globalized and decoupled.
There will be Washington-led bloc and China-led bloc.
There will be regional globalization led by Washington and Beijing.
Political and Ideological Impact: there will be emergence of two political and ideological blocs.
The China bloc will have varying types of political regimes including hybrid regimes, while the U.S. bloc will maintain liberal democracy.
Washington’s ambition of evangelical propagation of its democracy will be compromised.
Economic Impact: there will be China-led free trade bloc in which member countries’ sovereignty is respected and trade negotiations will allow accommodations for member countries specific needs.
On the other hand, there will be Washington-led free trade bloc in which member countries sovereignty is minimized and the trade negotiations are likely to be controlled by large corporations.
It is difficult to estimate the cost of the cold war.
The Rand Corporation is reported to suggest that the American GDP will fall by 30% because of the cold war.
It could be more than that because of the pronounced interdependence of national economies.
One thing sure is that the longer the cold war lasts, the greater will become the cost.
To conclude, we have to stop, at all costs, the Sino-American Cold War which will surely throw humanity into the deep and dark bottom of the Thucydides Trap.
It is not too late for academics, research centers, thin-tanks, social movements, decent media and, above all, people’s organizations at the grassroots to launch anti-cold war movements throughout the world.
Prof. Joseph H. Chung, Dr. Chung is Emeritus Professor of Economics and co-director of the East Asia Observatory (OAE) of the Study Center of Integration and Globalization (CEIM), Quebec University in Montreal (UQAM). Professor Chung is Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Published by Global Research
Republished by The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.