November 01, 2020

Beware: Wicked US Imperialism in our Region

R Arun Kumar

TO better understand the real reasons behind the frequent visits of the officials of US administration to India and their interest in our region, one needs to study some of the recent documents of the US administration. A series of documents starting from the National Security Strategy (2017), Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region (2019) to the latest titled United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China (August 2020), help us in developing our understanding. But before starting on them, it is necessary to understand the global order visualised by the US, post the collapse of Soviet Union.

Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US had come up with a strategic document titled ‘Defence Planning Guidance’ (1992). Explaining the need for such a document in the then international situation, it states: “This Defense Planning guidance addresses the fundamentally new situation which has been created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disintegration of the internal as well as the external empire, and the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence”. In this background, the document defined the role that US should play: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia”. It is with this understanding that the US has tried to impose its dominance in the post 1990s world order.

As a leader of the capitalist world, the US was always into bullying countries that appeared to even challenge its hegemony. Intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, pushing for regime changes using its military and economic might, it virtually acted as a hegemon. A real challenge to its dominance came after the formation of many Left, progressive governments in various countries in Latin America and the emergence of China as a major global economic power. These two developments also led to the formation of various regional blocs that gave hopes to the emergence of multipolarity, a change from the uni-polar world order that the US wanted to continue forever. These developments irked the imperialist US.

The US tried to meet the challenge posed by the developments in Latin America, by encouraging the ruling classes in those countries to destabilise the Left, progressive governments and had succeeded to an extent. The constitutional coup in Brazil, military coup in Bolivia and the way it had intervened in Argentina and Ecuador to reverse the pro-people policies of the earlier governments showcase its hold on the region. Nevertheless, the US is finding the strength of the popular movements, initiatives taken by various class organisations and social movements, the memories of the alternative policies pursued by the Left, progressive governments and the bankruptcy of earlier neoliberal regimes, a tough nut to crack.

The second and most crucial area for the US has been the growth and emergence of China as a major economic power. US always considers(ed) China as an all together different proposition. For one, China, as Pompeo repeatedly points out, is governed by the Communist Party, which is intent to lead the country on the path of socialist construction. This is a path that is completely opposite to the capitalist path advocated by the US and hence poses a much tougher challenge. The emergence of China proves that the proud proclamation of the US about the defeat of the socialist, communist ideology, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, is blatantly false. Thus, the rise of China is considered not only as the emergence of a ‘rival power’, but also of an ‘ideological adversary’.

The US never hid its intentions even while establishing diplomatic relations with China in 1960s. Nixon, the then US president who had re-established relations with China clearly stated the reasons for doing so: “Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside of the family of nations…The world cannot be safe until China changes. Thus, our aim – to the extent we can, we must influence events. Our goal should be to induce change”. Inducing a change in China was the real purpose for tying up with China and allowing it to become a member of the WTO.

The Strategic Paper on China (August 2020) clearly explains how and what change was expected in China: “United States policy toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was largely premised on a hope that deepening engagement would spur fundamental economic and political opening in the PRC….More than 40 years later, it has become evident that this approach underestimated the will of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to constrain the scope of economic and political reform in China…. WTO members expected China to continue on its path of economic reform and transform itself into a market-oriented economy and trade regime. These hopes were not realised….Political reforms have likewise atrophied and gone into reverse”.

The US thought that with the integration of China with the globalised world order and the penetration of multinational corporations, it could weaken China from within, which would ultimately lead to its disintegration. It was unable to digest the fact that China had laid conditions to the capital invested in China, like transfer of technology, adherence to Chinese law, etc. The US laments these restrictions imposed on its capital. “PRC, (1) requires or pressures United States companies to transfer their technology to Chinese entities; (2) places substantial restrictions on United States companies’ ability to license their technology on market terms; (3) directs and unfairly facilitates acquisition of United States companies and assets by domestic firms to obtain cutting edge technologies”. In a word, it could not agree with the fact that China has entered the globalised world order and is also trying to protect its interests, naturally expected for any country with self-respect.

The US continues with its attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of China and foment unrest against the CPC and the Chinese State. It had done this in Tibet, Xinjiang and recently, continues to do so in Hong Kong. As the US itself admits, “the United States has significant interests in the future of Hong Kong….more than 1,300 United States businesses reside in Hong Kong”. No wonder that the dissenters in Hong Kong used the flag of US and its anthem in their protests. Subsidiaries of USAID, with their offices in Hong Kong, have proven to fund and aid these protests. And importantly, it is the US Senate which had immediately jumped to invite the protesters to the US and expressed their support.

With China now trying to increase its economic presence throughout the world, particularly through the Belt and Road Initiative, the US is even more worried. “Through OBOR and other initiatives, the PRC is expanding the use of Chinese industrial standards in key technology sectors, part of an effort to strengthen its own companies’ position in the global marketplace”. Thus it is clear that US considers the emergence of China as a major global power, a threat to its global hegemony. It is worried when Xi Jinping, the president of PRC and general secretary of the CPC stated: “The CPC aims to make China a global leader in terms of comprehensive national power and international influence by strengthening the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics” and declared that “capitalism is bound to die out and socialism is bound to win”.

It is this fear of socialism and communism and the continued adherence of CPC and China to the socialist path that haunts the US. It is no wonder Mike Pompeo repeatedly expresses this fear at all times and in all places, even during his recent visit to Delhi and in the interviews he had granted to various media outlets here.

In order to counter the growth of China, with whom the US considers its relationship as ‘one of great power competition’, it “is prioritising the modernisation of the nuclear triad, including the development of supplementary capabilities designed to deter Beijing”. Realising that “we (US) can’t face this challenge alone”, the US had announced that “it’s time for a new grouping of like-minded nations” and for building “stronger alliances and partnerships”. The importance accorded to Indo-Pacific region, building of the Quad and proposals to ‘institutionalise the 2+2 mechanism’ with India are seen to be in this context.

The US policy towards China “isn’t about containment” as the Indo-Pacific Strategic Report (2019) states: “The National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy articulate our vision to compete, deter, and win in this environment. Achieving this vision requires combining a more lethal Joint Force with a more robust constellation of allies and partners”. The US is trying to militarise the entire Asia-Pacific region to serve its imperial designs and should not be allowed.

The Indian government has fallen for this narrow US vision and entered into a deadly embrace with the US. Already the Indian government has started refuelling US ‘Navy P-8 aircraft in Port Blair’ and ‘a US liaison officer’ was placed at the ‘Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region’, hosted by India. The BECA agreement signed between India and the US is going to further deepen such relations that are detrimental to Indian interests.

Committed to ideals of socialism and Marxism-Leninism, we should not allow US imperial interests to thrive in the region, disturb peace and foment trouble.