Russia Insider recently posted a report by Ollie Richardson on the sanctions imposed by the US on China for buying Russian arms. The article mentions “anti-Chinese propaganda organised by them [the US] in the Russian media and expert community, intimidating Russians by talking about the “Chinese occupation” of Siberia and the Far East.”
The US has been trying for years to drive a wedge between Russia and China, and there is a vulnerability here in that, while the Russian government is not likely to fall for any of the fake stories about China supposedly betraying Russia, the peoples of the two countries could in fact partially fall for these narratives, thereby compromising the close ties between them. I must admit, when I saw the story about Chinese bloggers claiming that Siberia was Chinese, I was a little apprehensive. While studying Chinese in Taiwan I learned that the Chinese feel very possessive of territories that were once – ie, historically – Chinese and will use all their diplomatic and economic resources to regain those territories. Tibet is an example. While a Westerner might suppose there is no reason the Chinese would consider Tibet theirs, the fact is, the Chinese and Tibetan languages are categorized as Sino-Tibetan languages and that fact alone is enough to convince the Chinese authorities that they are entitled to administer this country.
I just recently happened to stumble upon several instances of propaganda in the Russian-language blogosphere suggesting that China had designs on foreign land and even on Russian territory.
The first instance was an article posted at the Russian-language site Vzglyad, which is owned by the fame seeker Konstantin Rykov, who claims he got Trump elected. The article claims that China had “bought a government” in Africa. The country in question was Zambia. This might prompt a Russian to think that China is out to control the world, as many uninformed Westerners already believe.
The article says that the Zambian government is “pursuing a policy of self-destruction” and is fast “losing sovereignty.” It accuses the government of accruing a crushing debt thanks to Chinese skull-duggery.
But the vice president of Zambia has reminded us that the even the World Bank maintains there is no debt crisis in Zambia.
Further, the Zambian government has said “the government will not be distracted by reports from people trying to create a fiction with China as the cooperation has brought mutual benefit.”
"There is a smear campaign both locally and internationally by people trying to create a wedge in our relation with China," he said.
A quick look at the article on Zambia at the site Santander Trade reveals the core of Zambia’s problems. FDI (foreign direct investment) has been “dominated by large mining investments from Canada, Australia, UK, China and the US.” Yes, China too had exploited Zambia for its resources. So what’s the difference between China and the West? Keep reading. The key is in the last paragraph: “The country's infrastructure, whose previously poor quality posed a barrier to investment in the past, should be reinforced by investments in the road network, railroads and the construction of electrical power stations, in order to prevent power shortages, considering that the mining industry still accounts for nearly half of the electricity consumption. With Chinese support, the country began the construction of a new hydroelectric plant in 2013, an investment of EUR 1.5 billion, that will be operational in 2018.”
Of the 5 major world powers listed above as investors in Zambia, despite warnings like this, only China had taken the common sense step of developing infrastructure. Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials involved in foreign relations keep repeating a common term to their Third World friends, and that is infrastructure development (see the New Silk Strategies article on Xi JInping). US officials and politicians are furious at China for getting the jump on them in international relations and trade, but the question we need to ask these politicians is: why didn’t you think of developing Third World infrastructure? Of course, the answer is: Western thinking is short term – ie, short-sighted. Because, in Western-style “democracies,” politicians are concerned only with getting votes in the next election, not solving problems that may arise after their term is over. Easterners plan for the long term. Third World problems are long-term. Therefore, long-term thinkers win. And then Western politicians scream bloody murder. “China wants to take over the world! Beware the yellow threat.”
The Chinese site Sohu posted an into-Chinese translation of an article from the Zambian newspaper the Globe rebutting the allegations often brought against the Chinese and the Zambians (the Globe kindly confirmed that this is indeed from a Globe article posted last year). It mentioned a new tile plant that will hire 1000 people and provide cheap building materials for future projects. Addressing concerns over control of land, it said that two-thirds of the FDI in agriculture is by the UK, South Africa and India, and China farms only 10,000 hectares of the available 23 million arable hectares.
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.
To be continued