n July 27, 2021, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin – amid a diplomatic standoff with China – said: “We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet we do not seek confrontation.” The message is clear: the US is turning its gaze to Asia and wants China to acquiesce to its imperialist aims. Viewpoints like these betray the historical regressiveness inherent in USA’s Indo-Pacific strategy. As Mark Tseng-Putterman writes:
“Centuries of unfolding and overlapping projects of commercial Orientalism, anticommunism, settler colonialism, and military hegemony come to a head in the reduction of Asia and the Pacific into a securitized domain of U.S. great power hegemony. As the possibility of an open door to the fabled China market fades under the continuing leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, US investment in a global infrastructure of transpacific empire now manifests in a twenty-first-century containment program.”
Military muscles form one of the primary components of America’s neocolonial anti-China plan. With former President Barack Obama’s installation of the “pivot to Asia” initiative, 60% of American air-naval forces were transferred to the Asia-Pacific. Many of these forces are based on the Pacific Islands, including Guam, Okinawa, Palau, and the Chagos Islands, where the US military has deported Indigenous peoples, destroyed sacred lands, raped women and children, and poisoned drinking water with chemical and biological weapons.
The military encirclement of China has continued to intensify. The US Congress established the Pacific Deterrence Initiative under the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which proposed up to $18.5 billion in additional spending over the next five years to bolster the US’ influence in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. The Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) has sought up to $27 billion in additional spending between 2022 and 2027, with $4.6 billion allocated for 2022.
“China poses the greatest long-term challenge to the United States and strengthening deterrence against China will require DoD [Department of Defense] to work in concert with other instruments of national power,” the Pentagon’s 2022 Defense Budget Overview asserts. “A combat-credible Joint Force will underpin a whole-of-nation approach to competition and ensure the Nation leads from a position of strength.”
On the basis of this hysteria, the Pentagon requested $715 billion in military expenditures for 2022, with a significant chunk of those funds to be spent on the procurement of advanced ships, planes, and missiles intended for a potential all-out, “high-intensity” war with China. An extra $38 billion was sought for the design and production of nuclear weapons, another key aspect of the drive to overpower China.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been shamelessly pressing for further increases in the 2022 Pentagon budget. Many have also endorsed the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement (EAGLE) Act – a measure intended to provide hundreds of billions of dollars for increased military aid to America’s Asian allies and for research on advanced technologies deemed essential for any future high-tech arms race with China.
Language in the EAGLE Act deploys Sinophobia, characterizing China as manipulative, “coercive,” “repressive,” “hostile,” and bent on world domination. While the House was debating the bill, Representative Andy Barr openly spewed racist invectives against China: “Chinese culture and literature highlights the role of deception and heroes using cunning to manipulate others, concealing true motive, misleading enemies, feigning weakness while hiding growing strength and veiling true intention to the very end.”
The exaggerated charges in the Congress and the mainstream media against China have led to “xenophobic rhetoric” against Asian-Americans, according to leaders of the congressional Asian Pacific American caucus. Anti‐Asian violence, threats, attacks and murders have increased by 194% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, as per a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
China is not a threat to USA, and its development as a sovereign nation doesn’t harm American lives. However, the American Empire – confronted with the peaceful rise of China – has decided to wage a hybrid war against the country. Once again, wasteful militarism is draining trillions of dollars’ worth of resources that could have been diverted to the restoration of USA’s dilapidated economic infrastructure and for the redressal of accumulated social contradictions ranging from deep-rooted racism to economic disparities.(Counter Currents)
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.