The cruel irony of the US obsession with politicizing human rights

Co-editor of Friends of Socialist China Danny Haiphong explains why the US’s obsession with politicizing human rights against China is both baseless in substance and a deflection from its own heinous human rights record in all areas of economic, social, and political development. This article was originally published on CGTN.

The 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has entered its last week of deliberation. This particular session of the UNHRC saw the United States immediately politicize the issue of human rights by signing a statement from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and 46 other countries condemning China. The letter expressed “grave” concern over the human rights situation in China, listing the popular talking points in the West regarding the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the Tibet Autonomous Region. 

China’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva Chen Xu said that “disinformation has become rampant, which seriously runs counter to the original purpose of the Human Rights Council.” Cuba made a joint statement on behalf of 70 countries, stating that “the affairs of Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet are China’s internal affairs.”

The U.S.’s politicization of human rights against China is ironic in a cruel way. Washington refuses to acknowledge the mountain of evidence proving that its allegations against China are illegitimate in the eyes of the rest of the world. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) sent a delegation to China and expressed satisfaction with its treatment of Muslims, including Uygurs, in a resolution on their findings. The OIC includes 57 member states and a population of near two-billion people. In 2020, Cuba made a statement on behalf of 45 countries that praised China’s counterterrorism and deradicalization policies in Xinjiang.

Continue reading The cruel irony of the US obsession with politicizing human rights

China, Ukraine and the Belt and Road Initiative

On Saturday May 21st, Friends of Socialist China joined the Belt and Road Initiative Quarterly (BRIQ) journal, the Russian Cultural House in Ankara, the Turkish Students Union in China and the Istanbul Kent University as a co-organizer of a conference themed on ‘The Challenges and Opportunities for BRI Under the Background of the Ukraine Crisis’. It was a hybrid event, held both online and physically at Kent University.

Our co-editors Danny Haiphong and Keith Bennett both presented papers and we reproduce them, slightly edited for publication, below. The other speakers were Adnan Akfirat, Chair of the BRIQ journal; Professor Hasret Comak of Istanbul Kent University; Professor Ma Xiaolin of Zhejiang University; Daria Platonova of Moscow State University; Rajiv Ranjan, Associate Professor at Shanghai University; Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain; Dr Vali Kaleji of Tehran University; and Dr. Ahmet Shahidov, Chair of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

The full event can be viewed on Facebook Live.

Danny Haiphong: Why the Belt and Road Initiative won’t be derailed by the Ukraine crisis

Thank you to all the organizers of this event, including the Belt and Road Initiative Quarterly Journal, the Russian Cultural House in Ankara, the Friends of Socialist China platform which I co-edit, the Turkish Student’s Union, and Kent University. My discussion centers on the politics of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how they ensure that the development plan won’t be derailed by the monumental crisis underway in Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis has revealed quite starkly that there is a huge divergence between the path that’s being taken by the United States, NATO, the EU, and that of China. The former, perhaps more aptly called the Western imperialist sphere, has poured gasoline onto the fire that is the Ukraine crisis. The consequences have been enormous. Sanctions on Russia have sent shockwaves throughout the global economy. Economic growth has declined and inflation skyrocketed. The IMF’s economic forecast is dimmer now than it was prior to the Ukraine crisis and much of this is due to Western imperialist policy.

On the other hand, for China and the BRI, the situation is quite different. A commitment to peace and neutrality, cooperation, and robust and quality growth characterizes the partnerships within the BRI. It is clear that the massive trade and infrastructure project is not a prisoner of the moment. The BRI is not just about a single region or a particular country but rather an overall vision for global development that seeks to harness the present to brighten the future. The BRI does what Western-led economies such as the United States and its allies cannot and will not do, which is to offer opportunities for economic progress and true investment in all areas social and economic development.

The BRI, as Xi Jinping remarked, began in China but its achievements belong to the world. There are 140 countries and 30 international organizations that have already signed on to the BRI since 2013. Thus far, 8 trillion USD in trade and investment has been directed toward the BRI to cover the cost of more than 2,500 projects worldwide. The size and scope of the BRI demonstrates that it is not dependent upon the whims and the interests of the U.S. and the West. The BRI operates almost entirely independent of from Western imperialism, with the exception of the European countries which have accepted China’s invitation to join the project.

It is also worth noting that China is no stranger to operating in conflict zones. The world has been engaged in a war against the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several years and yet China has not only been able to extend solidarity and cooperation over this period but also advance the aims of the BRI. China has adjusted its own economic and political development in a way that takes into account the challenges of the global pandemic. That’s why China has achieved so much success in containing the pandemic and led the way in providing critical solidarity in the form of vaccines and protective equipment to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The pandemic has been a flashpoint for a people’s war to protect human life and this war is inextricably linked to the BRI’s overall vision.

China has also prioritized Belt and Road Initiative relationships with countries such as Pakistan that have been embattled with external and internal conflict. Pakistan has been subject to numerous conflicts over the past decade alone, whether in the form of the U.S.’s drone strikes killing thousands of civilians or the ongoing struggle in Kashmir. While these sensitive issues have inevitably caused economic difficulty, Pakistan and China’s cooperation in the BRI through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has only grown. The BRI has already brought about significant achievements in Pakistan such as the launch of the first transit system in Lahore in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

No matter what is happening internally in Pakistan, the BRI’s vision of development which emphasizes win-win cooperation rather than political interference or influencing the politics internally of any one country has been a major reason as to why these two nations have been able to build such a strong friendship despite internal and external threats to Pakistan’s stability. This includes a recent change in political administration just in the last few months.

The Biden administration recently completed his first trip to Asia, visiting South Korea and Japan in an attempt to organize the Southeast Asia into a conflict with China. The region has quickly become the most important flashpoint in the U.S.’s New Cold War and has been flooded with hundreds of U.S. military bases and hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel. Still, China has been able to build even stronger relations with the region that have led to remarkable achievements in the last few years alone. In 2021, the Sino-Laos high-speed railway was launched and is projected to increase economic growth for Laos by several percentage points. Laos is a country that was bombed by the U.S. more times than the entire number dropped in World War II during the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s.

In January 2022, Syria joined the BRI as a major step in its own rebuilding process from the U.S.-led war on the country. The U.S. currently occupies 30 percent of Syria’s territory. Despite being engaged in a deadly conflict that has displaced millions and killed more than 300,000 people, the Syrian government is committed to rebuild the country through the BRI.

Of course, the Ukraine crisis has indeed inflicted damage on the global economy. Mainstream media reports have emphasized disruptions in rail traffic that have slowed global trade to Europe. While these short-term challenges will delay certain aspects of the BRI, particularly the Eurasia rail link, the vision of the BRI is more than a century long and remains an incredibly attractive project for development. The Ukraine crisis does not take away from the BRI’s global advantages. In fact, the Ukraine crisis is likely to make the BRI even more attractive to countries around the world, including Ukraine.

For one, the United States and its allies offer few alternatives in the form of financial and economic arrangements to help rebuild from conflict and war. Furthermore, the United States and the West is pursuing a policy that will make the Ukraine’s economy “scream,” to paraphrase Henry Kissinger’s description of Chile in 1970s during the U.S.-backed coup there. The U.S. has provided predatory loans to Ukraine since the war began. In addition, the U.S.-sponsored lend-lease program has provided Ukraine billions in military aid, $40 billion of which was just passed in the U.S. Congress. Ukraine will be expected to pay back what it has received in conditional aid, making these arrangements detrimental to Ukraine’s long-term economic stability and growth.

The neoliberal policies of the U.S. and the West are laying the foundations for the BRI to become an even more important feature of Ukraine’s economic future. Ukraine is one of the earliest member of the BRI. China’s capacity to maintain a stable relationship with Ukraine and strengthen the Russia-China partnership at the same time has demonstrated what it means to place narrow and selfish interests to the background and the interests of humanity in the foreground. Whatever short term difficulties arise from the Ukraine crisis will not derail Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia’s desire to adhere to the BRI’s principles of creating a win-win model of infrastructure and economic development that addresses the need for real South-South cooperation, decreases extreme poverty, and reduces dependency on external lenders.

The BRI is already doing just that. The World Bank has acknowledged that the BRI offers a path forward out of extreme poverty. Monumental achievements have already come out of the BRI in countries such as Pakistan and Laos. Though the Ukraine crisis is a warning shot about the dangers of war and the neoliberal path led by Western imperialism, China’s approach to global development as manifested in the BRI will not just remain consistent but is also likely to strengthen its influence within the international order in the coming period.


Keith Bennett: China, Ukraine and the Belt and Road Initiative

Thank you for your invitation.

I would like to offer some brief comments on four of the topics you raise, namely:

  • The effect of the Ukraine crisis on the use of national currencies in foreign trade
  • The consequences of US and EU sanctions on the BRI
  • The impact of the crisis on the international pro-USA terrorist network
  • The impact of the crisis on the energy security of the EU and China

With regard to the first issue, namely the effect of the Ukraine crisis on the use of national currencies in foreign trade, I believe it is likely to have a profound impact. Developing countries, especially Russia and China, but also others, such as the other members of the Eurasian Economic Union, some African countries, the ALBA grouping led by Venezuela and Cuba, and so on, have been exploring this for some time. But this will now intensify. As will the development of digital currencies by countries like China.

The major sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus will undoubtedly cause considerable difficulties in the short to medium term.

However, strategically they are an example of what the Chinese leader Mao Zedong called, lifting a rock only to drop it on your own feet.

In fact, they really announce the end of dollar hegemony. Measures like excluding Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system were prefigured, for example, in the sanctions imposed on Iran. But this is the first time that such measures have been taken against a G20 economy, a member of the Permanent Five on the United Nations Security Council and a major nuclear power.

We know that China is looking very closely at the implications of this for its own economic and financial security.

We’ve also seen the imperialist powers freezing the assets of so-called Russian oligarchs. Literally stealing them. Incidentally, one should note that the likes of Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov and Oleg Deripaska are always described with the pejorative term oligarch, whereas the likes of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates are described as entrepreneurs. However, the combined wealth of the last named three equals the combined wealth of all of Russia’s top 20 ‘oligarchs’ – that is before the recent assault on their wealth.

Such actions are again in a sense nothing new. We’ve seen them in numerous cases recently, like Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iran and so on. Even as far back as the Albanian gold illegally held by the Bank of England from 1948-1996, a full half century.

But again, this is unprecedented in its scope – being against a major power and not just against its national institutions, but also against numerous individuals, some of them apparently designated solely as a result of citizenship or even just ethnicity.

The implications of this are huge.

If you are a citizen of any country of the Global South – be it Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, or wherever – how secure should you now feel about investing, depositing funds, or acquiring assets in the United States or the United Kingdom? When, should your government do anything to displease Washington or London, they can be frozen or confiscated overnight, apparently on a whim and with little or no regard for the so-called ‘rule of law’.

Yet it is partnerships such as these that financial centres like the City of London, on which the UK economy is disproportionately dependent, are increasingly reliant upon. It will therefore lead to the relative decline of long-established financial centres in the UK and elsewhere and impel the growth and development of new ones, along the Belt and Road, including in countries like Turkiye and Kazakhstan, as well as in the Far East, including in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Regarding the consequences of US and EU sanctions on the BRI, I think it will have a contradictory impact. On the one hand, part of the dynamic of the BRI was to draw to draw together the whole of the Eurasian space through increased trade, enhanced connectivity, developed infrastructure and so on. Clearly the EU is to a large measure and for now excluding itself from a number of these aspects, which is absolutely not a situation that China wishes to see. However, the unity of the EU in this aggressive policy is not so solid as is being suggested. Countries with energy supplies that have pivoted on Russia, those with traditionally strong economic or cultural ties, or who preserve some measure of independence and neutrality in their politics and diplomacy are already restive. This can only increase as the economic pain that Europe has brought on itself increases. There are already signs that Berlin, Paris and Rome do not share London and Washington’s apparent appetite for endless war.

However, there are other challenges, too. In general terms, conflict is simply not conducive to investment and development. Trade, transport, logistics, communications and connectivity are disrupted, not only by the fighting itself, but also by ruptured political relations, sanctions, such as on overflights, and so on. And the threat or use of secondary sanctions is also a very serious one.

But, whilst serious, many of these issues are essentially transient in nature. The potential of this conflict to reconfigure the international balance of forces lends greater urgency to BRI and to enhancing the unity of the Global South, something that is reflected, for example, in their almost unanimous rejection of sanctions on Russia.

Regarding the impact of the crisis on the international pro-USA terrorist network, again I think the impact will be contradictory. Terrorist networks instigated or manipulated by the imperialist powers may ultimately serve one goal, but they take different forms.

If Russia is successful in attaining its military objectives, then the anti-hegemonic front will be strengthened and it will be in a more advantageous position to confront and defeat terrorist forces.

However, the resilience of such forces should not be underestimated. For example, the leadership of the Taliban has repeatedly expressed a wish to have good neighbourly relations with China and other countries. But it seems hard for them to fully enforce this, including on some of their rank and file and regional commanders. Hence, there have been border incidents with Pakistan and Iran, the Pakistan Taliban has increased its activities and the central Taliban authorities are not yet in a position to completely suppress groups like the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM) or  Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-K), the local franchise of Daesh, which has emerged as the Taliban’s rival.

In the case of Ukraine, we know that neo-nazi and far right elements are flocking there from throughout Europe and North America. In the future, some of them will definitely pose a threat to their own societies. This is exactly what we saw with Afghanistan from the 1980s onwards and with Syria and Libya more recently. This is precisely what the American political scientist Chalmers Johnson termed blowback.

Finally, regarding the impact of the crisis on the energy security of the EU and China. In a word the impact is likely to be negative for the EU and positive for China. That the results are not what the EU intended can already be seen from the spiraling costs of energy, Russia’s increased earnings from energy exports and the strengthening of the ruble. At present, Germany has wasted billions on the now mothballed Gazprom 2 project. Meanwhile, countries like Hungary, are already indicating their willingness to pay their energy bills in rubles.

Further, in seeking to find alternative energy sources, it is not all plain sailing for the EU. Most of Qatar’s natural gas production is tied up in existing, long-term contracts, principally with the Far East. Saudi Arabia, at least for now, is sticking to its OPEC+ agreements and refusing to increase production. And it is indicating a willingness to price its oil exports to China in RMB, the so-called petroyuan. Both France and Spain have issues with Algeria – France due to the colonial legacy and Spain due to its acquiescence to Moroccan demands concerning the liberation struggle of the Saharawi people led by the Polisario Front.

In the case of China, close energy ties with Russia have been developing for some time now, for example through Gazprom’s Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline, part of a deal generally valued at $400 billion.

Whilst there are obvious, and not insignificant, obstacles to be overcome, China is essentially well positioned to absorb whatever Russian energy that the EU elects not to purchase.

China can also be expected to increase its interaction with other regional energy suppliers that are not impacted by potential maritime chokeholds. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar and, with enhanced BRI connectivity, Iran and Iraq, are all important in this regard.

Developing nations should jointly deal with fallout of Western sanctions on Russia

We’re pleased to republish this thought-provoking opinion piece from Wang Jiamei in the Global Times. Wang notes that the unilateral sanctions being imposed by the major Western countries are causing significant economic harm around the world, driving up energy and food prices, along with inflation. Furthermore, the extreme financial sanctions (such as removing Russia from the SWIFT system) may affect the ability of developing countries to trade with Russia, and serve as a reminder that the developing countries need to deepen their coordination in order to insulate themselves from the negative effects of the decisions taken by the imperialist countries.

It seems that a gradual embargo on Russian oil has become the focus of the latest round of US-led economic sanctions against Russia, which may lead to further volatility throughout the world economy.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations committed on Sunday to “phasing out or banning the import of the Russian oil” in an aim to remove reliance on Russian energy supplies, according to a joint statement.

The G7 decision came just days after Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, announced a plan last week to phase out Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

Continue reading Developing nations should jointly deal with fallout of Western sanctions on Russia

Fact sheet: China’s position on the situation in Ukraine

We are pleased to present the following fact sheet about China’s position on the situation in Ukraine, sent to us by the International Department of the Communist Party of China.

The fact sheet debunks the US State Department’s allegations and insinuations that China is fomenting or taking sides in the Ukraine crisis. China consistently works toward peace and stands for negotiated solutions to problems between countries. Furthermore, as the largest trading partner of Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, China’s basic interests demand peace.

China has refused to support the US-led unilateral sanctions against Russia, on the basis that these sanctions are illegal and only serve to increase tensions and prolong the conflict. Meanwhile they are having a serious economic impact on countries around the world, particularly in the Global South, where the rise in prices for food and energy is seriously impacting wellbeing.

The fact sheet points out: “An enduring solution would be for major countries to respect each other, reject the Cold War mentality, refrain from bloc confrontation, and build step by step a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture for the region and for the world. China has been doing its best for peace and will continue to play a constructive role.”

Zhao Lijian: China stands with the DPRK against sanctions and intimidation

The DPRK has long faced external threats to its security, which is the crux of the Korean Peninsula issue. To fundamentally solve the Korean Peninsula issue, the DPRK’s legitimate security concerns should be addressed. Otherwise, it’s like solving one problem only to find another cropping up. If the US truly cares about the well-being of the Korean people, it should stop pressuring the DPRK with sanctions. Instead, it should face up to the denuclearization measures already taken by the DPRK, respond to its legitimate and reasonable concerns and take measures to ease sanctions on the DPRK.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on February 9, 2022

Sanctions in the New Cold War on China

The following article by Carlos Martinez features as a chapter in the forthcoming book Sanctions Kill – The World Stands Up. The article provides a detailed analysis of the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on the People’s Republic of China and exposes the role they play within the escalating New Cold War.

Sanctions Kill – The World Stands Up will be published by World View Forum in early Spring 2022.

Background

The instinctive attitude of the United States towards the Chinese Revolution was of course one of hostility. In a protracted war between progress and reaction, between the future and the past, the governments of the US and the People’s Republic of China were, and are, are on opposite sides of the barricades. Hence shortly after the formation of the PRC in 1949, the US maintained a strict embargo on China.

With the move towards rapprochement in the early 1970s and a tacit agreement to ‘peacefully coexist’, the embargo was finally removed. Then with China’s strategic shift to integrate into the global economy, the trickle of trade and investment gradually expanded into one of the largest and most important economic relationships in the world, with bilateral trade volume currently standing at just over half a trillion dollars annually. Thousands of US businesses have generated enormous profits from their investments in China and (particularly in recent years) from selling to a vast and growing Chinese market.

Ruling classes in the West were, to a considerable extent, comfortable with incorporating China into globalised capitalism, to the extent that China’s role was limited to providing cheap, competent and well-educated labour. However, it was never the intention of the Chinese leadership to remain permanently at the lowest rung of the global economic ladder. China has pursued a patient strategy of welcoming foreign investment, setting up joint enterprises with Western companies, learning the latest technologies and management techniques, and building up its own advanced industry. Meanwhile it has invested very heavily in education and innovation. China’s R&D spending reached 378 billion USD in 2020 – 2.4 percent of its GDP and nearly three times the figure for the US.

As a result, China is on its way to becoming “a moderately developed socialist country by the middle of the 21st century”, as Deng Xiaoping predicted some 35 years ago.1 China has become a world leader in network technology, in renewable energy, nuclear energy, high-speed rail, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and several other important areas. It is increasingly competing with the US in spaces that the US is used to dominating, such as cloud computing and industrial automation.

The US ruling class has not responded favourably to all this. These uppity Asian communists refuse to stay in their lane! Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs recently described the response of US elites to China’s emergence as a science and technology powerhouse: “The basic attitude, if I could paraphrase, was: ‘how dare they do that? That’s what we do, not what they do. They’re a workshop, we’re the technology leader.’”2

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has caused further discomfort. The Belt and Road, described by British political analyst Jude Woodward as “a vision of continental integration on a historic scale”,3 is a growing economic network underpinned by rapid infrastructure development – particularly high-speed rail, ports, and energy production and transmission. Beijing leads the financing and macro planning for this historic initiative. The expansion of the Belt and Road into large parts of Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and further afield has become a major source of concern for those that seek to preserve US hegemony. In the words of US ‘elder statesman’ Henry Kissinger, the practical significance of the BRI will be to “shift the world’s centre of gravity from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”4 That is, China is creating a development path that isn’t defined by the US or US-controlled institutions.

In summary, the US ruling class finds itself in a position in which its role as sole economic, political and military superpower is under threat. To make matters worse, the source of this threat is a socialist, non-white, developing country which is working in concert with other countries towards the democratisation of international relations.

This is the overall context for the New Cold War, in which the US is the principal antagonist and China is the principal target. Just like the original Cold War (waged against the Soviet Union, the socialist countries and the Global South), the New Cold War is being fought on multiple fronts: political, military, ideological, propagandistic and economic.

Wave of sanctions under Trump and Biden

Then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton wrote in 2011 that “one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will be to lock in a substantially increased investment – diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise – in the Asia-Pacific region.”5 These words heralded the launch of the ‘Pivot to Asia’, which clearly identified China as the primary concern of US foreign policy in the modern era. But it was under the Trump administration that the New Cold War started to escalate in a serious way, with the initiation of a trade war – supposedly to put a stop to “the greatest theft ever perpetrated by anyone or any country in the history of the world.”6 Trump imposed a wide range of tariffs, unprecedented since the lifting of the trade embargo some 50 years ago.

Alongside the tariffs, the Trump administration imposed new US sanctions against China for the first time since 1989. In 2018, two of China’s top technology companies, Huawei and ZTE, were banned from providing equipment to any federal US agency. A year later, US companies were prevented from doing business with Huawei or its subsidiaries unless they had specifically been provided with a government licence – due to Huawei allegedly violating the US’s unilateral (and illegal) sanctions against Iran.

In the summer of 2020, the Trump administration announced two new sets of sanctions against China. Under the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, several senior Chinese officials were subjected to visa restrictions and asset freezing. Under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, a number of top Hong Kong officials (including Chief Executive Carrie Lam) plus all 14 Vice Chairpersons of the National People’s Congress were subjected to similar punishment.

Things have only got worse in the first year of the Biden administration. In June 2021, Biden signed an executive order banning US citizens from investing in Chinese companies with alleged ties to the defence or surveillance technology sectors. The list of banned companies includes Huawei, China Mobile Communications Group, and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) – a key player in China’s bid to develop its homegrown semiconductor industry (semiconductors are a crucial component of modern electronic devices). The list of banned companies purportedly connected to the “Chinese military-industrial complex” was expanded in December 2021 to include SenseTime, which develops facial recognition technology.7

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was signed into law on 23 December 2021. Startlingly, this Act inverts the principle of presumption of innocence, since it contains “a rebuttable presumption that goods mined, produced, or manufactured (wholly or in part) in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are made with forced labor, where goods designated as such will be subject to an import ban into the United States.”8 That is, there is a starting assumption that any item produced in Xinjiang incorporates forced labour. Any importer will have to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that goods have not been made with forced labour – a sufficiently high legal bar that, in practice, makes the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act a blanket ban on all goods produced in Xinjiang.

Aside from these economic sanctions, the White House announced in December that it would be conducting a ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, in light of “China’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.”9

The State Department has also been strongly encouraging US allies to join its growing system of sanctions and boycotts. Britain, Canada and the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, in parallel with the US’s sanctions.10 Canada, Britain and the European Union have also followed the US lead in passing Magnitsky legislation, providing for sanctions against individuals alleged to have committed human rights abuses. This essentially means that under a “unified set of rules”, US-imposed sanctions on individuals are automatically applied in those countries.11 Meanwhile, Australia, Britain and Canada have announced their support for Biden’s ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Olympics.12

The overall picture then is one of steadily escalating sanctions against China over the course of the last four years, with the changed occupancy of the White House not impacting this trajectory in the slightest.

Sanctions as New Cold War propaganda

The typical motivation for imperialist sanctions is to foment popular unrest by causing serious economic harm; “making the economy scream”, like the CIA did in Chile when it had the temerity to elect a Marxist government.13 Sanctions against Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Belarus and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are manifestly designed with such a purpose in mind. Needless to say, such a strategy would have no chance of success in China, which is the second largest economy in the world and which is more than capable of imposing counter-measures that would cause significant damage to US business interests.

Sanctions against Chinese individuals over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong will have very little effect on China’s economic growth; rather, such sanctions form part of a propaganda ‘full-court press’ designed to vilify China, to cultivate broad anti-China sentiment, and to build public support for the New Cold War. This propaganda is already having an impact; in the US, it has produced “a bipartisan consensus in Washington towards getting tough with China that is now extending to the broader public.”14

The propaganda surrounding the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population of Xinjiang is particularly pernicious. This web of lies has been comprehensively debunked elsewhere, for example in an academic study by Eurispes,15 an extensive report by the International Action Center,16 and numerous investigative reports in the Grayzone.17 Suffice here to briefly note the following points:

1) While the State Department has accused China’s government of perpetrating a genocide in Xinjiang,18 absolutely no credible evidence has been supplied. As Jeffrey Sachs points out: “The charge of genocide should never be made lightly. Inappropriate use of the term may escalate geopolitical and military tensions and devalue the historical memory of genocides such as the Holocaust, thereby hindering the ability to prevent future genocides. It behooves the US government to make any charge of genocide responsibly, which it has failed to do here.”19

2) The reports and data analysis implicating the Chinese government in genocide, cultural genocide and forced sterilisation come almost exclusively from two sources, both utterly devoid of credibility. One is Adrian Zenz, a professional anti-China fanatic and senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who is apparently “led by God” to spread slanders about China.20 The other is the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). ASPI is an Australian government think tank which receives funding from, among others, NATO, the US Department of Defense, the US State Department, Britain’s Foreign Office, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Raytheon. In short, it is deeply involved in the business of New Cold War and the militarisation of the Pacific, and obviously cannot be relied upon to carry out unbiased research on China.

3) The Uyghur population from 2010 to 2018 increased from 10.2 million to 12.7 million, an increase of 25 percent. In the same period, the Han Chinese population in Xinjiang increased by just 2 percent (the differential is explained largely by the fact that national minorities were exempt from the One Child Policy).21

4) As to claims of ‘cultural genocide’, there are over 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, a higher number of mosques per capita of Muslim population than Turkey.22 All schools in Xinjiang teach the Uyghur language. All road signs have both Uyghur and Chinese writing. Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque, returning from an observer mission to Xinjiang, described the region as “a mosaic of 50-plus ethnic minorities, and these ethnic minorities exist in a very peaceful and harmonious manner.”23

Western sanctions against China over human rights abuses in Xinjiang can thus be clearly understood as part of an elaborate campaign of information warfare. Nobody that has researched the question can seriously believe that a genocide is taking place in Xinjiang. Any sanctions are not designed to punish Chinese officials for misdeeds but to support an overall structure of disinformation portraying China as a malevolent force.

Trying to slow China’s rise

Thanks to China’s economic strength, the West can’t starve the Chinese people into submission through economic warfare. However, one important motivation for the steadily escalating sanctions regime is to attempt to decelerate China’s emergence as the world’s pre-eminent leader in advanced technology. The authors of a recent report by Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs observe that “China’s rapid rise to challenge US dominance of technology’s commanding heights has captured America’s attention.”24 The report notes that China has already established a leading role in several key areas and, “in others, on current trajectories, it will overtake the US within the next decade.”

One ‘choke point’ the US can leverage is its head start in the design and manufacture of semiconductors. As noted above, semiconductors are at the core of all electronic devices. Advances in semiconductors are driving – and will continue to drive – transformative change in a wide range of industries, from energy to medicine to space research. The Belfer Center report estimates that China is on course to become “a top-tier player in the semiconductor industry by 2030.” As such, preventing (or at least slowing) China’s emergence as a semiconductor superpower is a key priority for the US.

This issue goes beyond economics. If China outpaces the US in technological innovation, it will shift the entire global balance of forces; it will significantly weaken the ability of the imperialist powers to impose their will on the rest of the world; and it will showcase the fundamental validity of socialism as a means of propelling human progress. As Deng Xiaoping stated in 1984, “the superiority of the socialist system is demonstrated, in the final analysis, by faster and greater development of the productive forces than under the capitalist system.”25

Indeed, developments in technology in the coming decades form a crucial component of the material basis for the progression to a more advanced socialism. British researcher Keith Lamb writes: “China’s goal of building a modern socialist country by 2049 is predicated on mastering semiconductor technology which is the linchpin of the modern age, making innovations such as self-driving electric vehicles; fully-automated AI production systems, and supercomputers possible.”26

Such are the reasons for the wave of sanctions connected to the semiconductor industry. The US wants to restrict China’s ability to import semiconductors and, more importantly, to prevent China achieving self-sufficiency in semiconductor production. Blacklisting SMIC, China’s biggest manufacturer of computer chips, in December 2020, means that it is no longer able to source supplies from US companies. Chinese chip designers have been cut off from access to leading-edge chip design tools.27 Meanwhile Huawei has been prevented from importing chips, impacting its production of high-end smartphones.28 The US has been able to enforce many of these sanctions on an international scale, by virtue of its ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ – sanctioning non-US chipmakers that use US-made components. One notable absurdity here is that Taiwan, a region of China, complies with the US sanctions regime, and therefore Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) – the world’s most valuable semiconductor company – has been forced to stop its exports to the companies on the US Entity List, including Huawei.29

Unfortunately for US imperialism – but thankfully for China and the peoples of the world – this campaign of economic warfare is doomed to failure. As Radhika Desai notes, “US efforts to restrict chip supply to China will only increase its resolve to develop the necessary technology to produce the chips it needs domestically.”30 Indeed, according to market analysis firm GlobalData, US coercion is fomenting a “high octane, whole nation, everything-it-takes campaign to create a de-Americanized domestic semiconductor supply chain able to supply 75% of its needs by 2025” and achieve full self-sufficiency ten years later.”31

In the meantime, while stimulating China’s fast track to semiconductor self-sufficiency, sanctions are adversely impacting technology companies outside China, which for the last two decades has been the largest market for computer chips, in addition to being the ideal hi-tech manufacturing location. In recent years, the US semiconductor industry has derived over a third of its revenues from sales to China.32 These revenues have in turn fed into the R&D cycle and contributed to an impressive pace of innovation. It seems the US has settled on a ‘lose-lose’ strategy to replace the framework of cooperation that had brought significant benefit to both sides in recent decades.

Another area in which the US is using sanctions to gain a competitive advantage is solar power. China is by far the world’s largest producer of solar energy, with an installed capacity of 254 GW – more than three times that of the US, and growing fast.33 China also produces the bulk of the global supply of polysilicon (a key material in the production of solar panels). Johannes Bernreuter, author of the Polysilicon Market Outlook 2024, predicts that “China’s share in the global solar-grade polysilicon output will approach 90 percent in the coming years.”34

Unable to compete on price or productivity, the US has resorted to imposing sanctions on large parts of China’s solar panel industry35 – ostensibly on the basis of evidence-free and comprehensively debunked claims of the manufacturers using Uyghur forced labour.36 This is profoundly irresponsible and short-sighted behaviour. Chinese investment in solar technology over the course of the last 10-15 years has pushed the entire industry forward, and has brought prices down to a level where solar power is more cost-effective than fossil fuel alternatives in many parts of the world. This is an important contribution to the global struggle to prevent climate breakdown. The Western powers should be working closely with China and other countries on developing and deploying clean energy, rather than imposing sanctions with a view to gaining some fleeting economic advantage.

Unite to oppose hegemonism and Cold War

China is a leading voice opposing the West’s illegal sanctions regime, consistently using its role in international forums (including the UN Security Council and the G20) to oppose unilateralism and bullying. China has added its voice to the global demand to end the blockade on Cuba. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian demanded last year that the US “immediately and completely lift unilateral sanctions against Cuba in compliance with the purposes of the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations”, adding that China “resolutely rejects any external interference in other countries’ internal affairs, imposition of unilateral sanctions, and attempt to gang up on other countries.”37 China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions against the DPRK,38 Zimbabwe,39 Eritrea,40 Afghanistan,41 Venezuela,42 Nicaragua,43 Syria,44 Iran45 and Belarus.46

With its strong opposition to sanctions, war, interference and hegemonism; through its pursuit of multilateralism and its support for the principles of the UN Charter; and through its consistent engagement with the countries of the world on the basis of equality, friendship, solidarity and mutual benefit, China is an indispensable force in the development of a new, multipolar system of international relations. Such a framework is desperately needed by the peoples of the world, and those of us living in the belly of the imperialist beast should do what we can to support it.

References

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Elias Jabbour: Boycotts, hypocrisy and the organic intellectuals of imperialism

In this important article for CGTN, Elias Jabbour discusses the so-called ‘diplomatic boycott’ by some Western countries of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, explaining that the boycott forms part of a set of behaviours and slanders that are designed to delegitimise China’s government and to prepare public opinion in the West for further attacks on China. He notes that, sadly, some pseudo-Marxist intellectuals in Europe and North America are participating in this imperialist Cold War project.

It was early December when breaking news took the political and diplomatic circles around the world by surprise: the United States has declared a so-called “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

According to U.S. government spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the country would not treat the Olympics as something normal given the “atrocities” in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. As expected, England and Canada announced something similar later. Same posture Australia. Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth?

Since then, EU countries have been pressured to take a similar stance, but for the time being, only Belgium has followed this lead, and in Latin America, there are no signs in this direction. As symbolic as this act can be, it is interesting to note the degree of isolation of U.S. imperialism in countless initiatives.

We must read this attitude in different ways. This “boycott,” although isolated and almost symbolic, is serious. The U.S. doubles its bet on the proliferation of lies for political purposes with a view to delegitimizing the government of the People’s Republic of China in the international community while continuing yet another colonial war.

Let us be under no illusion. What the U.S. plots against China is a colonial war with the purpose of subjugating the country to an order based on violence, blind obedience and punitive wars, applied to those who dare to leave the radar of imperialism’s control. As for the accusations of “genocide” in Xinjiang, the facts show that what we are seeing is an old policy, very similar to what was used by the Nazi propaganda machine. A simple survey is enough to demonstrate that, in reality, these charges are fallacies.

For example, one of the accusations is that China has a policy of mass sterilization, which would have seen the Xinjiang Uygur’s population falling from 15.5 births per thousand to 2.5 per thousand. However, according to the seventh national census report released in May, the Han population growth rate was 4.93 percent, while China’s ethnic minority population increased by 10.26 percent compared to 2010.

Specifically, the population of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang has grown by 14.27 percent in that same period. It is also good to remember that the birth control policies implemented in the early 1980s were not applied to Chinese ethnic minorities.

Another lie concerns the alleged “cultural genocide” preventing Uygur Muslims from freely practicing their religion, including restrictions on the use of their typical clothes and violation of mosques.

However, Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques, an average of 530 Muslims per mosque. This number is more than double the total number of existing mosques in the U.S., Britain, Germany and France. On the other side, in the name of “democracy” and “human rights,” U.S. soldiers looted relics from the Historical Museum of Baghdad in 2003.

For that, it is clear that this “boycott” is not supported by data, but by lies and a sea of hypocrisy. The deep contradictions of U.S. society, which was born under the combination of slave labor and reactionary ideologies that support theses such as “indispensable nation,” “manifest destiny” and “New Canaan,” are known by many.

The human rights situation is dire to the point that a 2021 national poll by researcher John Zogby found that 46 percent of the U.S. population believed that a future civil war was likely, another 43 percent thought it was unlikely and 11 percent were unsure.

War seemed more likely for young people (53 percent) than for older ones (31 percent), and for those residing in the South (49 percent) and Central/Great Lakes region (48 percent) compared to those in the East (39 percent).

Meanwhile, a real disaster is taking place in the country with the death of more than 817,000 people by COVID-19. Right-wing ideologies twist the minds of about half of the country’s population by spreading scientific denial, racism and hate crimes against blacks, Latinos and other minorities.

Finally, the new feature of this attempt of a “diplomatic boycott” is the strong resurgence of intellectuals within the so-called progressive camp at the service of the demoralization of socialist experiences.

This was something very common during the Cold War, and was usually due to the co-option, by imperialism, of European Marxist intellectuals, that were induced to criticize the former Soviet Union. Now, there are figures like the philosopher Slavoj Zizek, signatory of a petition pressing the French government to “boycott” the Winter Olympics.

The cultural war against China involves the mobilization of “intellectuals” to criticize China. History repeats itself, but now as farce.

China calls on the US to remove its illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe

We are pleased to republish this article from Global Times, reporting on China’s support for the Southern African Development Community’s Anti-Sanctions Day initiative and its consistent opposition to the Western countries’ cruel and suffocating sanctions against Zimbabwe.

China stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe in a consistent call for the unconditional removal of Western sanctions. African ambassadors in Beijing thanked China for the positive support on the third Anti-Sanctions Day on Monday.

“While the guns of the revolution fell silent in 1979, sanctions are a continuation of an unwarranted and unprovoked war against Zimbabwe by the West… 20 years of sanctions have negatively impacted all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy and its people…and even undermined Zimbabwe’s credibility and national image,” Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to China Martin Chedondo said at the event at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Beijing.

Continue reading China calls on the US to remove its illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe

Hua Chunying: Washington DC is the birthplace and headquarters of economic coercion

A powerful quote from Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying about the US use of economic warfare against developing countries.

For a long time, the US has been engaged in unilateral bullying practices, imposing long-term sanctions on Cuba, the DPRK, Iran, Venezuela, among other countries. Washington DC is the birthplace and headquarters of economic coercion. The US, through its policies and actions, has provided the world with textbook examples of coercive diplomacy, which means achieving one’s strategic goals with military threats, political isolation, economic sanctions and technical blockade.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on September 29, 2021