The Drums Of War With China Are Beating Much Louder Now

Caitlin Johnstone
7 min readMar 13, 2023

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Comments from both Washington and Beijing have suddenly become much more pointed and aggressive in recent days, with talk about hot war now being discussed as not just a real possibility but in many cases as a probability. Let’s have a look at some of the most significant recent developments.

Beijing comments on US encirclement

The Chinese government has finally broken from its usual restrained commentary on the way the empire has been aggressively encircling the PRC with war machinery in ways that Washington would never permit itself to be encircled and waging economic warfare that it itself would never tolerate.

“Western countries — led by the U.S. — have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development,” President Xi Jinping said in a speech last week.

China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang followed up on Xi’s comments the next day with a warning of “conflict and confrontation” should US aggressions and encirclement continue.

“If the United States does not hit the brake, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there surely will be conflict and confrontation,” he said, adding, “Who will bear the catastrophic consequences? Such competition is a reckless gamble with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity.”

One of the most hilarious empire narratives we’re being asked to believe today is that the US is militarily encircling its number one rival China, on the other side of the planet, defensively. The US is very plainly the aggressor in this standoff, and China is very clearly reacting defensively to those aggressions.

These comments come not long after PRC Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning issued a stern warning to the US to “stop walking on the edge, stop using the salami tactics, stop pushing the envelope, and stop sowing confusion and trying to mislead the world on Taiwan,” calling the Taiwan issue “the first red line that must not be crossed” in US-China relations. As we’ve discussed previously, these increasingly frequent “red line” warnings are very similar to the ones that were being issued with greater and greater urgency by Moscow before US brinkmanship provoked the invasion of Ukraine.

Committing to war with China over Taiwan

The official head of the US intelligence cartel made some comments before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday which appear to have put the final nail in the coffin of the question of Washington’s “strategic ambiguity” on whether the US would go to war with China in defense of Taiwan.

Asked by Congressman Chris Stewart about President Biden’s increasingly explicit assertions that the US would go to war with China over Taiwan, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines asserted that, despite the White House’s repeated walk-backs of those claims, it is clear to China that this is in fact Washington’s actual policy on the Taiwan question.

“In this particular case, I think it is clear to the Chinese what our position is based on the president’s comments,” Haines said.

US officials are talking about war with China like it’s a foregone conclusion

There’s been a marked spike in rhetoric from US officials about war with China being something that’s inevitably going to happen, or even something that is already underway.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, Senator John Cornyn expressed concern that difficulties in replenishing weapons stocks from the proxy war in Ukraine indicate that the US may not yet be “ready” to fight a “shooting war in Asia.”

“I think the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the weakness of our industrial base when it comes to replenishing the weapons that we are supplying to the Ukrainians,” said Cornyn. “In World War Two we became the Arsenal of Democracy and saved Britain and Europe, but if we got involved in a shooting war in Asia, we would not be ready.”

“I know what war looks like — we’re at war,” Congressman Tony Gonzales said at a House Homeland Security hearing on Thursday.

“I mean, this is a war, maybe a Cold War. But this is a war with China,” Gonzales added, citing things like Chinese aircraft intercepting US aircraft on China’s border and China “invading Taiwan via their cyberspace” as evidence that the US is “at war” with the PRC.

A direct war between nuclear powers

The US war machine is making it more and more explicit that its position on Taiwan is very different from its position on Ukraine, in that it will directly commit American troops to fighting a hot war with China over Taiwan. This is especially concerning because US military encirclement and provocations with Taiwan are making that war more and more likely, in the same way western provocations made the war in Ukraine more likely.

“Sending more weapons to Taiwan isn’t ‘deterrence,’ it’s a provocation,” tweeted Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp, who’s been documenting US provocations in Taiwan more thoroughly than anyone else I know of. “It’s clear now that increasing US military support for Taiwan will make a Chinese attack more likely. Anyone who is telling you otherwise is wrong or is purposely deceiving you.”

Indeed, University College Cork professor Geoffrey Roberts has argued that Putin chose to wage a “preventative war” on Ukraine with the calculation that the way the west was turning it into a major military power meant it needed to be confronted early before it became a major threat. The exact same thing could easily be happening with Taiwan.

“China is the big one,” DeCamp also tweeted recently. “Both sides are talking as if war is inevitable. Not a proxy war, a direct war between two nuclear powers. It can’t happen. The US needs to change course and stop its military buildup in the Asia Pacific, or we’re doomed.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself. This must be opposed, and opposed forcefully. Now more than ever, humanity appears to be on track toward the unfolding of a chain of events that leads to the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Some sanity from the mainstream media

To close with some good news, the imperial media are apparently not fully aligned with the war-with-China agenda (at least not yet). All the insane hawkishness mentioned above appears to have scared some sense into some influential voices in the mainstream media, with surprisingly anti-war arguments emerging in the last few days.

In an article titled “Who Benefits From Confrontation With China?”, none other than the New York Times editorial board taps the brakes with a wildly US-biased but still-welcome argument that “America’s increasingly confrontational posture toward China is a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy that warrants greater scrutiny and debate.”

“Americans’ interests are best served by emphasizing competition with China while minimizing confrontation. Glib invocations of the Cold War are misguided,” NYT argues.

In a Washington Post article titled “Democrats and Republicans agree on China. That’s a problem.”, Max Boot (yes, that Max Boot!) argues that the bipartisan foreign policy consensus on escalations against Beijing are a sign that something dangerously ill-advised is in the works.

“The problem today isn’t that Americans are insufficiently concerned about the rise of China. The problem is that they are prey to hysteria and alarmism that could lead the United States into a needless nuclear war,” Boot writes.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria echoes Boot’s criticism of the Washington foreign policy orthodoxy, saying that “Washington has embraced a wide-ranging consensus on China that has turned into a classic example of groupthink.”

A new Financial Times piece titled “China is right about US containment” acknowledges that Xi Jinping’s aforementioned comments about encirclement and suppression are “not technically wrong,” and says that betting on China’s submission in the new cold war “is not a strategy.”

In a Daily Beast article titled “What the U.S. National Security Community Is Getting Wrong About China,” David Rothkopf argues that “We have passed the crossroads and we are already, unfortunately, dangerously, well on our way down the wrong path” with US-China relations.

It remains to be seen if these sentiments will be sustained in the mainstream media. Even if they are, they may just be the liberal media counterpart to the way some right wingers in the mainstream media like Tucker Carlson are permitted to object to US foreign policy toward Russia as long as they continue to support brinkmanship with China (all the outlets I just mentioned have been enthusiastic supporters of US proxy warfare in Ukraine, after all). This may be yet another instance of the way the empire gets the mainstream herd arguing over how imperial agendas of global domination should be enacted, rather than if they should.

Time will tell whether any sanity erupts from the muck of the empire regarding the possibility of igniting the most horrific war imaginable. As always with such things, I remain cautiously pessimistic.

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