Corporate media is laying the ideological groundwork for a new cold war with China, presenting the nation as a hostile power that needs to be kept in check.
The Washington Post (4/23/20) ran an article by Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, the second sentence of which said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that, to a great degree, our very health is in Chinese hands; from medicines to masks, we are at Beijing’s mercy.” America, in this conception, is under Chinese domination, a tyranny that’s evidently imposed not only by the Chinese government, but by Chinese people generally.
Details like the U.S. having more than 21 times as many nuclear warheads as China, or the fact that it’s the U.S. dollar and not the Chinese yuan that underpins the global financial system, do not enter into consideration. Instead, because the U.S. imports a great many goods made in China, Romney urged readers to understand China as Americans’ oppressors, who implicitly must be resisted.
Romney warned his audience that China has a “grand strategy for economic, military and geopolitical domination” and thus “The West” must “respon[d]” with “a unified strategy among free nations to counter China’s trade predation and its corruption of our mutual security.”
He said China is conducting an “alarming military build-up.” Sure, the available evidence indicates that the U.S. spends almost three times what China does on its war apparatus, but “Americans should not take comfort in our disproportionately large military budget,” Romney cautioned, because, supposedly, “China’s annual procurement of military hardware is nearly identical to ours,” though few know about this “outside classified settings.”:
Then he revealed China’s supposed threat to America’s “security”: “Because our military has missions around the world, this means that in the Pacific, where China concentrates its firepower, it will have military superiority.” In other words, China is a danger because it “concentrates its firepower” in the ocean nearest to it, while the U.S. divine right to empire requires that its military saturate the globe.
The senator argued that “action should be applied in national security sectors” such as phone technology and medicine, and that “the free nations must collectively agree that we will buy these products only from other free nations” as part of a plan to “protect … our security.”
The idea that China is a threat to Americans’ security is baseless: China hasn’t threatened to attack America, while the U.S. has a massive military presence in the Asia/Pacific region. The Pentagon, with bipartisan support, wants to engorge that menace with a $20 billion budget increase, and with offensive weaponry such as land-based Tomahawk cruise missiles that had been banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty until the U.S. abrogated the deal. China, meanwhile, has no military installations anywhere close to the United States.
Romney repeatedly called on “free nations,” a grouping in which he included the U.S., to take on China. In doing so, he cast the potential conflict as a civilizational battle between freedom and dictatorship — that the U.S. has the highest prison population per capita on Earth does not trouble the senator’s framework.
Romney also referred to China or its economic practices as a “predator,” “predatory” or “predation” eight times, making the U.S. and its allies the supposed prey. “Today,” Romney wrote, “Beijing’s weapon of choice is economic: The tip of its spear is global industrial predation.” China is “a predator, unbound by the rules followed by its competitors,” so “when the immediate health crisis has passed, the United States should convene like-minded nations to develop a common strategy aimed at dissuading China from pursuing its predatory path.” Romney is propagating a timeworn worldview in which deceitful, barbaric Orientals take advantage of innocent, rule-abiding Americans whose businesses never break laws or do anything that could be viewed as predatory.