This US-disseminated Sinophobic hysteria is worldwide, and to put it in perspective, the media and some political activists in Panama – which has just signed on to deals with China for several infrastructure projects – are currently raving about the fact that the Chinese are interested in building a new embassy on “reverted” land, ie, land once owned by US military and administrative personnel pertaining to the canal. Absurdly, they say this shows disrespect for the US, which has its embassy in the same area.
Now this petty charge is especially odd because every year, Panama also celebrates Martyrs’ Day, commemorating the deaths of school children gunned down in January 1964 by Canal Zone police and US soldiers as they “trespassed” on land reserved for US personnel, as a protest against the perceived violation of Panamanian sovereignty in areas closed off to Panamanians.
Panamanians also remember with sadness and anger the at least four thousand civilian deaths during the US invasion of Panama in 1989 (many Panamanians have seen the video “The Panama Deception” showing, among other things, that Noriega was originally a US puppet, who was trained at the CIA-run School of the Americas).
Yet the anti-China hysteria in Panama ignores the fact that, unlike the US, China had never threatened or harmed a single Panamanian. It is the typical “We had better be careful or they will own us” hysteria. Several years ago there was an outbreak of hysteria inside the US over a rumour that the “Chinese” controlled ship traffic through the canal. I drove down to the Miraflores Locks tourist centre and asked around to see if any of the canal employees or officials there knew anything about this. All of those queried looked genuinely surprised. None had ever seen Chinese workers or officials at the locks where the traffic is controlled. Clearly, this rumour was spread maliciously with the aim of making Americans and Panamanians leery of the Chinese, but as I learned from my research on Xi Jiinping, the Chinese have set for themselves the goal of actually lifting the poor in their areas of influence out of poverty (this article is the product of that research).
The image of a friend with a sincere desire to help is nurtured by the Chinese with all the resources at their disposal. They are deeply concerned about rumours that they might be considering harvesting resources (eg, copper) to the detriment of a client state and will do everything in their power to avoid the appearance of acting with ulterior motives. The sincerity that they project in meetings with Third World leaders and the success they enjoy in helping these nations develop is why they enjoy the trust of states that were once aligned with and dependent on the US. The US has never understood that projecting the utmost friendliness and understanding – devoid of ulterior political motives – in their interpersonal relations is the secret to success in international investment.
Nonetheless, Zambia has had major management and corruption problems and has assumed a lot of debt. When China lent the state money that could not be paid back, Chinese companies have been known to take over the bankrupted enterprises, such as TV and radio news channel ZNBC, which is now in Chinese hands.
But allegations that China loans are a “debt trap” are overshadowed by IMF loans, which have led to much more serious situations in debtor countries such as Greece, which, according to the site Trading Economics, has a debt to GDP ratio of about 180%, compared to the 55.6% for Zambia. By comparison, the public debt of the US – which controls IMF – is at 105.4%, expected to rise to 109% by 2020. Greece has already has a fund set aside for the fire.sale of some of its state assets, and has been eyed by various potential buyers of its infrastructure, eg, venues purpose-built for the 2004 Athens Olympic games, which have sat derelict and rotting for the past decade. Other assets moved to the fund include state utilities, including the water board and power transmission operator ADMIE.
The next anti-China report I happened upon on a Russian site was one from the site Varlamov, asserting that Chinese blogs were carrying inflammatory claims that Siberia belongs to China, based on supposed historical “facts,” eg, that the Chinese were the first to settle there hundreds of years ago (didn’t happen).
So I checked on site owner Ilya Varlamov and found in the Russian-language Wikipedia that he had ties to the Russian opposition and frequently participated as a photographer at their rallies at their request.
There were several Russian-language sites that carried this story (not all of them obviously opposed to the government) and one of them provided a link to the Chinese site that had originated the claim that Siberia was Chinese. The story was carried by Toutiao, a privately owned Chinese internet provider, which, it turned out, had been in trouble with the government and had had “inappropriate” material pulled. Toutiao used IA to gather and rank items by popularity. Further research showed that the Toutiao company had branched out around the world and carried fake news.
An article posted at Russian-language site lenta.ru debunked the myth that China is claiming Siberia and analysed the reasons for Russians’ distrust of the Chinese, which goes back centuries. But, unfortunately, the author did not consider the possibility that the Chinese blog content and the fact that it was picked up by Russian sites may have been a Western disinformation ruse, of the kind described by Ollie Richardson.
The Chinese-language site Sohu, owned by the government, also entered into detail on why Siberia is not Chinese and never was.
The pertinent article includes 4 bullet points showing that 1) China was traditionally an agricultural country and Siberia was simply too cold for its agricultural methods; 2) there is a natural law of conquest whereby conquerors generally stay in the same latitudes as their home country, eg, the US conquering the West, Russians conquering Siberia, China conquering Xinjiang, etc. 3) Siberia was barren in early times with almost no population, and the cost of occupation was beyond the means of the Chinese; 4) Siberian grassland was traditionally the domain of nomadic sheepherders. Further, Confucius taught against expansion, and during the Qing Dynasty when Russia had its eye on Siberia, China’s power was declining.
Regardless of whether these arguments seem plausible, it is very important that China decided to post this article in Chinese to its own people. They would never do this if they intended to take over Siberia, even in the distant future. The propaganda efforts to support the takeover of Tibet and Taiwan have always been consistent and there was never a time when the government wavered. This means that the Chinese government is definitely not interested in Siberia.