The real reason for America’s hostility to China

Summary: Americans who read the news know that China is a designated bad guy, which justifies the full deployment of US power to contain it. Efforts by China to resist (or even defend itself) show its malevolent intent. Here is the rest of the story — the true story.

Globe and China Flag

What is America’s strategy to manage China? To discover the opinion of US elites, I first turn to The Economist (or Stratfor): “They have returned“, 12 August 2010 — “China should worry less about America’s ‘containment’ strategy and more about why the neighbours welcome it.”  The Economist’s attempt to distract us from the containment program shows that China should worry about US efforts to contain it. To understand this conflict, we begin with the previous global struggle.

“The ‘Long War’ is a term for the conflict that began in 1914 with the First World War and concluded in 1990 with the end of the Cold War. The Long War embraces the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam and the Cold War.  The Long War can be understood as a single conflict fought over the constitutional issue of what form of the nation-state — fascist, communist or parliamentary — would succeed the imperial states of the 19th century.”

— Interview with Philip Bobbit, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (2003).

I believe the Long War as won by “market-based States”, not “parliamentary” states. Now the US attempting to retain its hegemony over the other market-based nation-states — especially China. From 1950 to 1972 one of the top goals of American foreign policy was to contain China. This culminated in the Vietnam War, as described in the memorandum from Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Johnson, dated 3 November 1965. The opening of the memo is clear (red emphasis added).

“The February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain Communist China. China — like Germany in 1917, like Germany in the West and Japan in the East in the late 30’s, and like the USSR in 1947 — looms as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us.

“The long-run US policy is based upon an instinctive understanding in our country that the peoples and resources of Asia could be effectively mobilized against us by China or by a Chinese coalition and that the potential weight of such a coalition could throw us on the defensive and threaten our security. This understanding of a straightforward security threat is interwoven with another perception — namely, that we have our view of the way the US should be moving and of the need for the majority of the rest of the world to be moving in the same direction if we are to achieve our national objective.”

After Nixon went to China, from 1972 -2001 the US pursued a policy of engagement. But China’s unexpected hypergrowth transformed it from a trading partner and distant threat into a current rival — and after 2001 US policy changed from cooperation to quiet containment.

China Rising.

A new era begins: back to containment

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it.  That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s tells Truman how to start the Cold War. On 12 March 1947 Truman did exactly that.  From “Put yourself in Marshall’s place” by James P. Warburg (1948). In 1941 Warburg helped develop wartime propaganda programs.

Mobilizing against China required a propaganda blitz to (again) demonize the Red Peril. With almost a century of experience at this, DoD did so quickly and skillfully. America put up only slight resistance (e.g., “China: Containment Won’t Work” by Henry A. Kissinger, an op-ed in the WaPo on 13 June 2005).

In April 2015 Qiao Liang (乔良) gave a speech explaining how China’s leadership sees their relationship with America. He is well-positioned to do so as a major general in China’s People’s Liberation Army (and co-author of Unrestricted Warfare, the revolutionary 1999 book about military strategy in the nuke and 4GW era). He describes America as an imperial power with China as its greatest and inevitable threat.

Qiao Liang
Major General Qiao Liang.

He believes America fears not just China’s growing economic and military power, but its growing global influence. For example, in November 2014 China began the Shanghai – Hong Kong Stock Connect, facilitating foreign investment in China’s stocks. More significantly, in January 2016 the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank opened for business — an alternative to the World Bank, dominated by the US, Japan, and EU .

General Qiao Liang believes America’s quiet containment efforts explains recent events (emphasis on quiet: the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review says little about China). Occupying Afghanistan helps block China to the West. He believes America has created a regional crisis to turn China’s neighbors into bickering foes. He mentions the Cheonan sinking event {2010}, the dispute over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese), the dispute over Scarborough Shoal (the Huangyan Island in Chinese), the planned (and aborted) May 2014 Occupy Central protest in Hong Kong, and the territorial dispute over the 981 rig.

The general says “China used Tai chi movements to cool down each crisis” (Chinese martial arts). Wikipedia has a good entry about America’s new China containment program.

Why has China built those island bases?

China sees America as the aggressor, unjustly using military and geopolitical power to pen it in. America has invaded many nations since WWII (two in first few years of this century). We cannot justly deny their legitimate need to build a defensive screen against our immense naval and air power.


“…aggressive, self-confident women ready to play their role, believing in themselves, in their careers, in their right to make decisions here and overseas, supremely confident in what they represented …It would be very exciting, and even better, great gains would be made at little cost.”

— Describing the new Kennedy administration, from Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest (the original text referred, of course, to “men” not “women”).

Great power rivalries are inevitable. WWII shows how easily they spin out of control. Are we being prudent or paranoid by leaning so heavily on China with so little evidence that is threaten us? We might feel the consequences, since Hillary Clinton’s national security team is the most belligerent since the Kennedy-Johnson team — the experts that so eagerly started the Vietnam War.

For More Information

See a note by General Qiao Liang published in Xinhua describing how the U.S. is “Containing China by Agents“. Also important is his 2010 speech about China’s geopolitical strategy: “Regional Power with Global Influence“. For more about economics seen from China’s perspective: A new world comes, probably one with no place for our “lords of finance”.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about China, and especially these…

  1. How China builds its commercial empire.
  2. Why China will again rise to the top, and their most important advantage over America.
  3. Will China become a superpower?
  4. Danger, America! Wet your pants in fear of China!
  5. A China briefing from one of the West’s best-connected experts.
  6. Stratfor: What Kind of Great Power Will China Become?
  7. China takes the lead in supercomputing while America sleeps.
  8. Stratfor: China builds a new Silk Road for the 21st century.

8 thoughts on “The real reason for America’s hostility to China”

  1. “Unrestricrted Warfare” is a great book — should be required reading for presidential candidates, that’s for sure! I’m very curious to know how Qiao and Wang have updated their analysis after the last 15 years of quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan. And of course it would be interesting to read their revised thoughts on cyber warfare, after Stuxnet etc.

    In the immediate future, with respect to China, I suspect we’ll see interesting developments in the Philippine and perhaps Thailand. If Duterte reorients his country towards China’s “OBOR” trade bloc, President Clinton (I presume) will have to seriously rethink the US’s foreign policy stance in Asia. Personally I’d favor a realist approach, coming to terms with China’s rise and acknowledging that the era of the Pacific Ocean as a US “lake” (to use MacArthur’s phrase) is at an end. But I’d bet on Clinton instead escalating SCS tensions, at least rhetorically, at the expense of our regional relationships.

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