PNoy was correct about imperialist China

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014


CRITICS of President Noynoy Aquino, both in the Philippines and in the Chinese mainland, have chided him for comparing China’s actions in the South China Sea with Hitler and Germany’s actions in Europe in 1938 immediately before World War II broke out. The Chinese mouthpiece Xinhua labeled the President as “amateurish” and “ignorant.”

PNoy was referring to the failure of Western nations to contain Hitler’s expansionist moves in Czechoslovakia. Instead of battling Hitler, the said nations sought to appease him by giving up the Sudetenland region. Hitler wasn’t appeased and went on to gobble more territories until he was defeated years later.

World War II, however, was not only about Hitler and Germany. It was also about imperialist powers moving to partition the world to serve their own interests. In that war, the United States (US) emerged as the world’s foremost imperialist power.

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At that time, China was not the world power that it is known today and was, as early as 1937, already invaded by Japan, another imperialist power. It wasn’t a no-brainer that China would position itself with the Allies led by the US, Great Britain and Russia against the Axis powers led by Germany, Japan and Italy.

Indeed, in answering PNoy, the Chinese government used that fact to argue that his analogy was wrong. As the Chinese foreign ministry said of its role in World War II, “China made huge sacrifice and indelible historical contribution to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.”

That statement, however, glosses over the fact that much has changed in China and in the world since that time. It is in this context that Aquino’s assessment is closer to the truth than that of the Chinese.

There is a growing consensus among analysts now that China is no longer just a mere capitalist state but has already become an imperialist power. Meaning that China has gone a long way since the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) won power in 1949 immediately after World War II and presided over a capitalist restoration in the said country in the late ‘70s.

China has become the third largest trading country in the world and the second largest exporter after Germany. China holds 25 percent of the world’s currency reserves and is thus the largest exporter of capital in the world.

And its industry has a voracious appetite: in 2006, it consumed 25 percent of the world’s aluminum production, 23 percent of its copper, 30 percent of its zinc, 18 percent of its nickel and its energy consumption is second only to the US (www.leftcom.org).

China’s needs are therefore fueling not only its expansionist moves in the South China Sea but also in its attempt to wiggle into efforts by traditional imperialist powers to siphon the world’s resources. Before the South China Sea issue, China had encroached into Africa, traditionally controlled by Western capitalist powers.

It is no wonder that China, even with its vast land area, would still covet even the small islands in the West Philippine Sea. This region is known to sit in a vast reserve of oil that China needs to feed its industry. In so doing, it is clashing with US interests here.

China is a new imperialist power wanting to take a slice of the pie already controlled by old imperialist powers. It needs to expand in order for its economy to survive. It wants a new partitioning of the world, much like what Hitler and the old Germany wanted, a goal that sparked World War II. And China could spark war now.

In sum, PNoy was not “amateurish” or “ignorant” when he used the Hitler and old Germany analogy. Instead, he was the child in the Hans Christian Andersen tale who said of the emperor who strutted around in his “invisible” garment: “But he has nothing at all!”

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 11, 2014.

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