Afraid of which big wolf?
This editorial is a question. About China. Bulletin readers are well educated and articulate, so let’s hear your reflections!
The US vice-president has just left, speaking about many topics including China. Trade, too, NAFTA-2. Canada’s trade with China has been profitable, especially in resources and agriculture, but all this is suffering thanks only to our arrest of a Chinese businesswoman on US request.
That’s the narrative, according to our own state media. Will Mr Pence agree to do for us what his government cannot do for their own economy, viz à viz China? That’s question one.
A deeper question is why is China such a bugbear for us? For Americans, China is a competitor; for us, a customer. Why trash a good customer? If it’s fear, why?
Is it their different system, a “communist” one? Marx would object, I suppose, because China’s government is based on manufacturing and commercial competition. That sounds just like us –except China’s mercantilism is based on profit-making for communal goals, not for individual profit, our ideal. And so what? Don’t we trade with all sorts of regimes, those that behead opponents or drop them from aircraft?
In other matters, China seems close to some of our ideals (broadly) in shifting to non-carbon energy and fighting pollution in the atmosphere, waters, cities, and land. China has declared it will preserve one-quarter of its mass from development, a UN-endorsed ideal.
Is it because China’s aggressive? Let’s compare. List Chinese aggression in the last 50 years, compared to our US benefactors’. China’s real military aggressions are about equal to our own.
Foreign influence? China’s Belt and Road Initiative – threatening? Maybe in some hypothetical future, but compared to US foreign policy? Or the interventions of US non-governmental actors, like evangelicals, in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Uganda ...
Or we fear China’s theft of scientific and industrial advances? But isn’t China now outspending the US and Canada on scientific research, universities, scholarships, etc.?
Or is the source of our fear in general because we sit on a treasure-trove of natural resources with only a miniscule population to protect it? We need either a super-military or an alliance with a less-threatening empire, and we’ve opted, historically, for our neighbours’ empire?
And it’s not merely the arrest of a Chinese executive. Canada is part of the informal “Five Eyes” who share intelligence on China’s activities. We’re members of the L9 group which counters Chinese economic networking – and Canada has intervened in Chinese domestic affairs (re the Uighur minority). Canada is no innocent bystander but deeply embedded in the American Empire which has surrounded China, as best it can. Yet we claim to be afraid?
These questions are not to excuse China for anything but to understand our own continual economic self-harm, based on “fear”. Why do we do this?
And, finally, isn’t a distant bully preferable to one next door?