The China Threat is Real
After seeing this Daily Mail report highlighted in a tweet indicating that China’s presence in Latin America threatens the USA, I decided to dig a little deeper and find out what the threat was. There are many articles online so I scanned through them to see if I ought to be more frightened than I am — I’m not
Having read many articles, I know there isn’t a military threat at all, there is however, a credible fear of credibility. That’s it, that’s all there is: a fear of truth.
Despite reading many, I decided to focus on one article which had all the “fears” shared by others under one headline: “Why China’s Advance in Latin America Matters”. It’s well-written, from a knowledgeable source and published in an influential online e-zine called National Defence that had been sent to me by a Twitter follower (@ChristineEliaz), written by a Dr Evan Ellis.
Dr Ellis is a Senior Associate (non-resident) of the Centre for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) which describes itself as a “bipartisan, non-profit policy research organisation”. CSIS focuses on how the US maintains power in the world and minimises National Security threats. Dr Ellis’s is a specialist in Latin America, as such, his sphere of interest has expanded in recent years to include coverage of China’s presence in the region.
As with most “think tanks”, a short scan through the list of donors reveals an interesting mix of organisations supporting the US casus belli. Many of them are weapons manufacturers and oil industry names, some are Government departments, the largest four government donors are Japan, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.
At the same time that National Defence magazines and bipartisan organisations are talking about the need for war, the Washington Times National Security Correspondent, Bill Gertz reminds his followers that two years ago this week the US (arbitrarily and summarily) executed an Iranian General, going on to call for drone strikes on Chinese leaders if they “…launch a war on the US”. It seems many people in influential positions are of the opinion that China wants a war with the USA.
Such warlike rhetoric comes only from the US, it has never emanated from China. Amazingly the talk of military expansion that Dr Ellis sees as threatening is, and I quote verbatim from his article here:
“…the People’s Liberation Army has become increasingly active in the region, sending military police to the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti for eight years, deploying its hospital ship on three separate occasions” (emphasis added)
So, we are led to believe that the “incursion” which is part of a UN peacekeeping force and the presence of a hospital ship to aid disaster relief is, in actual fact, some kind of threat to the region. With the minor exception of troops training in Brazil and Colombia, there is no other mention of troop or military expansion in the region. For the record, both Brazil and Colombia are described by the US State Department, as having friendly or robust relations with the USA. Also, Chinese troops were the recipients of training, not, as is usual with the US, conducting training. And, a final point, there are no Chinese military bases anywhere in Latin America. The USA, on the other hand, according to online searches, has 76 military bases in the region:
Military and Infrastructural Support
Dr Ellis goes on to discuss the fact that NORINCO, in his words, a Chinese “defence based company” has supplied a “broad array of equipment” not only to “anti-USA regimes, but also to those “friendly with the United States such as Colombia and Peru”. Whilst Norinco is indeed a defence contractor, it’s also active in oil and mineral exploration and has an interest in clean energy and poverty alleviation. The author fails to point out in this section that much of Norinco’s “broad array, will also fall within these fields. He also fails to mention that the US government sells $55 billion US dollars of arms each year and regulatory approval is given for sales of a further $115 billion by direct commercial sales. An unbiased report might have pointed out that the US is responsible for 80% of all arms trade in the world with a total around $142 billion in 2019. Depending upon which site you choose to visit, the second largest is either Israel, Russia, South Korea or the UK, but nowhere online does it state that China enters the top 3 military equipment exporters. So, the threat of China’s military exports to the entire world, let alone Central, South or Latin America seems to be confined to approximately 0–5%. Hardly a situation that should arouse significant fear, or national security concerns, in the hearts of the world’s largest military.
As we delve deeper into the article, we find the real threat: China has, according to the article, invested 137 billion in loans and 122 billion in investments — primarily in key strategic markets. Once again, placing this fear into the minds of his readers, the writer fails to mention the fact that the US has also invested heavily, and in key markets the sum of $253 billion — almost twice as much. Debt is an even worse scenario, with Wall Street holding an amount of debt that equates to 77.7% of the GDP of the region. Currently, servicing the interest on these debts, averages 59% of the Gross National Product., exports and services, of the region. In other words, after 400 years of colonisation and exploitation, most people in Latin America still live in poverty, despite being rich in minerals and resources, Latin Americans either live in bondage to US debt or under US sanctions.
Ellis continues in his article with an example of how the Chinese in Jamaica, “use leverage from self-financing the North South Highway” to obtain “undervalued terrain” for building tourism related properties on the route — what he fails to mention is the “undervalued terrain” had been valued on the basis that there was no road upon which to reach it, at least that was until the Chinese developers saw an opportunity to build that road. Colonial masters could have done this anytime over the last 400 years but neglected to.
Curiously, in Brazil, Chinese developers are also seen by this writer to be taking advantage by building a port and train lines in order to access the soy beans and iron ore they intend to purchase from there — once again, something that might have been done any time in the last 200 years of industrialisation but has never been achieved, until Chinese foresight, and investment, made it possible.
The article is littered with suppositions that China “could” do some very bad, highly exploitive things in the region. Incredibly, a threat is perceived when “tens of billions” have been invested to provide electricity in Brazil and Peru, telecommunications and broadband infrastructure — not that 5G is a threat according to Ellis, but that China might carry sensitive information on the hundreds of millions of dollars of cable networks they’re putting into South American “smart cities” which are being built… by China!
There are allegations in the article that China will use coercive power to “silence people who might criticize it”. Again, this fear is placed in the reader’s thoughts without a mention of the fact that China isn’t a country that uses sanctions or coercive trade measures, it never has. At no time has China ever sanctioned a country: Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela might have some comment to add to this, all of them heavily sanctioned by the US and their people subjected to impoverishment and even starvation. Dr Ellis’s idea that it might happen in the future is pure projection, a flight of fancy on his part.
In his conclusion, the article staggeringly suggests that China’s professionalism in exploitation would make the slaughter and mass genocide of early colonialists, the theft of artefacts and resources and the invasions and election interference of modern-day interventions look amateur. Quite a claim and surely, based only on the writer’s own experience and interpretations.
In my conclusion, I envisage a different scenario: China has demonstrated an ability to lift millions out of poverty, build incredible infrastructure and now leads the world in education, technology and innovation, it has more patents, a longer life expectancy, less crime and more safety and stability than the USA and it has the world’s most popular government amongst its own people with 95% satisfaction rates. The USA, conversely, has rising poverty, crumbling infrastructure, stale and inefficient government, a fading relevance in world affairs, crises in governance, debt management, health, homelessness, crime and guns but an overarching propaganda system that leads every American to the same belief that they live in the best, brightest and most positive country in the world.
Imagine living in the world’s richest country but finding yourself in worse conditions than your “backyard”. Third world countries you’ve always considered underdeveloped, where historically poor, uneducated, cheap, undocumented workers and many refugees come from, are starting to look like a good place to return for a better life. A better life than the US can offer.
That is the real threat to US national security. The day citizens of the United States start to realise the truth that the current generation of Chinese citizens already have, and the next generation of Latin Americans, will have more opportunities and better prospects than they themselves do. It is the fear of this truth USA’s ruling elite would like to avoid because, at that moment in time, the people of the US will demand more of them, their country and their leadership.