Mike Whitney Interviews Paul Craig Roberts About the Rising Tensions with China
Mike Whitney— The Biden administration is determined to provoke China on the issue of Taiwan. The White House now believes that they must take a more aggressive approach to China in order to contain their development and preserve America’s role as regional hegemon. The irony of Washington’s approach, however, is the fact that tens of thousands of US corporations have fled the US over the last 3 decades to take advantage of China’s low-paid work force. In fact—according to Registration China—there are now more than 1 million foreign-owned companies registered on Mainland China, many of which are owned by Americans. These corporations are largely responsible for China’s meteoric economic rise over the same period of time. So my question to you is this: Why is China being blamed and targeted for the explosive growth for which US corporations are mainly responsible? Or do you disagree with my analysis?
Paul Craig Roberts— Your question is really several. Your question itself identifies the main or over-riding reason for Washington’s back-tracking on the one-China policy that has been in effect since 1972—China’s threat to US hegemony. The neoconservatives who dominate US foreign policy, the principal purpose of which, in their words, is to prevent the rise of other countries with sufficient power to constrain US unilateralism, now face both China and Russia as threats to US hegemony. Russia’s punishment is conflict in Ukraine, sanctions, missiles on their border, and blown up Nord Stream pipelines. The goal is to isolate Russia from Europe and to present the Kremlin with sufficient problems to keep Moscow out of Washington’s way.
Just as the US broke its agreement with Russia not to expand NATO and has withdrawn from the agreements made during the Cold War that served to reduce tensions, Washington is now moving toward repudiating the one-China policy as it no longer serves Washington’s interest.
In 1972 with the Cold War and Vietnam war, easing tensions with China made strategic sense. The Soviet Union’s existence precluded any notion of US hegemony. The neoconservatives got their idea of US hegemony two decades later when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. At that time the opinion was that Yeltsin’s Russia was no problem for US dominance and it would be decades before China would be strong enough to get in Washington’s way. But, as you point out in your question, the offshoring of US manufacturing to China quickly turned China into an economic powerhouse, while greatly diminishing the economic prowess of the US. It wasn’t so much that US corporations left on their own seeking higher profits from lower labor costs as it was that they were pushed by Wall Street, which threatened to finance takeovers in order to take advantage of the lower cost opportunity. In short, China’s rapid rise was the result of Wall Street and corporate greed, for which China does not bear responsibility.
American neoliberal economists explained the offshoring of US manufacturing jobs as the workings of free trade from which America would benefit. It was two billionaire businessmen, one American and one English, US
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