In the following brief article, Caitlin Johnstone unpicks President Biden’s recent claim that the US’s military escalation in the Pacific is not about surrounding China but about “maintaining stability in the Indian Ocean and in the South China Sea.” Caitlin points out the obvious: that Biden is lying. The US’s 313 military bases in East Asia, its initiation of AUKUS, its transfer of nuclear-capable bombers to Indonesia, its provocations in Taiwan and more all form part of a broader project of encircling and containing China. Frankly, “only a drooling idiot would believe the world’s most powerful empire is militarily surrounding its top geopolitical rival as an act of defence.”
Caitlin observes that the Chinese leadership understands these dynamics very well and is under no illusions as to the US’s intentions. When Biden says that the US is not trying to contain China and that the US is engaged in acts of defence, the purpose is to dupe the public in the West and generate support for an incredibly reckless military strategy that offers nothing of value to ordinary people.
The author concludes by advising readers to ignore the words of US officials and instead focus on their actions. “Ignore what officials say about wanting peace and not trying to surround China and supporting the One China policy etc. Just watch all the US war machinery that’s being rapidly added to that region.”
President Biden had a recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria during which he defended his controversial decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine and suggested that the US can continually support Ukraine the way it supports Israel rather than adding it to the NATO alliance.
About halfway through the interview Biden said something about China that’s worth flagging, because the claim he makes is self-evidently false, and it’s not the first time he’s made it.
Describing the conversations he’s been having with China’s President Xi Jinping, Biden said the following:
“We’re going to put together the Quad which is India, Australia, the United States and Japan. I got a call from him [Xi] on that. He said why are you doing that. I said we’re not doing that to surround you, we’re doing that to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean and in the South China Sea. Because we believe the rules of the road about what constitutes international air space, international space and the water should be maintained.”
“But what he was really upset about was that I insisted that we — we reunite the Qu- — so-called Quad. He called me and told me not to do that because it was putting him in a bind. I said, All we’re doing — we’re not trying to surround you, we’re just trying to make sure the international rules with air and sea lanes remain open.”
Biden is lying. The US is deliberately surrounding China with war machinery and has been for years, and has rapidly escalated its efforts to do so during Biden’s term. There are currently no fewer than 313 US military bases in East Asia by the Pentagon’s own admission, with the Biden administration adding four new ones in the Philippines. Biden’s war machine has been busy instituting the AUKUS alliance which is specifically set up to menace China, moving nuclear-capable bombers to Indonesia, signing a military deal with Papua New Guinea, working to station missile-armed marines at Japan’s Okinawa islands, staging provocations in Taiwan, and getting into increasingly confrontational encounters with Chinese military vessels and aircraft off China’s coast as part of its dramatically increased military presence in the area.
So of course the US is trying to surround China, as evidenced by the mountains of US war machinery that are being moved into areas surrounding China. Biden can babble all he wants about wanting to secure sea lanes and protect international waters, but only a drooling idiot would believe the world’s most powerful empire is militarily surrounding its top geopolitical rival as an act of defense.
And Beijing is under no illusions about this. Xi said in a speech earlier this year that “Western countries — led by the U.S. — have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development.”
So Biden isn’t trying to fool the Chinese government with his “We’re not trying to surround you” schtick — he’s trying to fool you. He’s trying to fool the western public and the allies of the United States, who would get spooked if the US president openly admitted to a deliberate campaign of militarily encirclement against an economic superpower they all trade with extensively.
You simply cannot understand the geopolitics and major conflicts of the 2020s without understanding that the US empire has been actively amassing military threats in the immediate surroundings of its top two rivals — China and Russia — that it would never tolerate anyone else amassing anywhere near the United States. The single dumbest thing the US empire asks us to believe nowadays is that surrounding its two biggest foes with war machinery is a defensive action, rather than an act of extreme aggression.
The best advice I can offer about US-China tensions is to ignore the words and watch the actions. Ignore what officials say about wanting peace and not trying to surround China and supporting the One China policy etc, and just watch all the US war machinery that’s being rapidly added to that region. The US empire is better at international narrative manipulation than any power structure that has ever existed in human history, but what they can’t spin away is the concrete manoeuvrings of solid pieces of war machinery, because they are physical realities and not narratives.