On October 23, 2021, NoColdWar.org sponsored a zoom event, “Europe against the Cold War: China is not our enemy.” The co-moderator, Nora García of Spain, described the purpose of the panel as that of analyzing the role of Europe in the U.S. Cold War against China. She asked, how do we explain that China is not our enemy, and that the necessary road is peace and sustainable development?
By Charles McKelvey
Published on the author’s own blog, Oct 27, 2021
Click here to watch Europe against the Cold War: China is Not Our Enemy
On October 23, 2021, NoColdWar.org sponsored a zoom event, “Europe against the Cold War: China is not our enemy.” The co-moderator, Nora García of Spain, described the purpose of the panel as that of analyzing the role of Europe in the U.S. Cold War against China. She asked, how do we explain that China is not our enemy, and that the necessary road is peace and sustainable development? Fiona Edwards of the United States, serving as co-moderator, added that NoColdWar.com was established in 2020 to respond to the aggressive policies toward China of the Trump administration; unfortunately, U.S. aggression against China is escalating under Biden. She encouraged all to visit the Webpage of NoColdWar.com to sign the declaration of opposition to the Cold War against China.
The panelists, in the order of their presentations, were Yanis Varoufakis, a member of Parliament in Greece, Secretary-General and founder of the left-wing political party MeRA25, and former Greek Minister of Finances; Kate Hudson of the UK, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Nabil Boukili, member of the Workers’ Party of Belgium and a deputy in the Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of the Federal Parliament of Belgium; Maria Cernat, Editor of the Barricade, Romania; Cinzia della Porta, the Base Unions in Italy; Maite Mola of Spain, Vice-President of the European Left Party; Victor Gao of China, Director of the China National Association of International Studies; Madison Tang of the United States, Coordinator of the Codepink “China is not our enemy” campaign; Vijay Prashad, Executive Director of Tri-Continental: Institute for Social Research, India.
Yanis Varoufakis declared that the New Cold War is a threat to humanity. The New Cold War, he observed, is a mixture of stupidity and hypocrisy, in that the capitalist world-economy would not have survived the financial crisis without China, which increased its investments and purchases in order protect its own economy from the shock of the crisis. Germany, for example, survived the crisis through a strategy of socialism for the bankers combined with exporting goods to China. Similarly, the U.S. economy would not have attained stability in 2009, if it were not for the Chinese economy.
But, Varoufakis maintained, it is not a good idea to explain policies through reference to their stupidity. It is better to explain the interests that are at stake in the New Cold War. China has created tech conglomerates, and China is the only country in the world that is able to compete with U.S. dominance of the big tech market. U.S. big tech and big finance have an interest in taking control of the competitive Chinese big tech companies, in accordance with historic patterns of U.S. monopoly capital in responding to competition. Creating conditions that would force China to sell its big tech companies to U.S. corporations is the goal of the Cold War against China.
Varoufakis made clear that he is opposed to Chinese authoritarianism. Indeed, he is opposed to all manifestations of authoritarianism, whether it be that of the Communist Party of China or that of European states whose political-economic systems are authoritarian, in spite of a façade of democracy. He believes that European authoritarian regimes have no right to accuse China of authoritarianism. Chinese authoritarianism does not legitimate the Cold War against China; it does not make China our enemy.
Kate Hudson reported on military developments in relation to the Cold War against China. She noted that, in addition to participating in the Australia-USA-UK (Aukus) defense agreement, the UK has supported U.S. strategies in NATO, and it has increased its nuclear arsenal. The Aukus agreement includes the sharing of military technology, providing Australia with full access to U.S. nuclear technology. Only six countries have access to nuclear powered submarines, and Australia now joins that exclusive club. In response to criticisms of the accord, the UK claims that the submarines are merely nuclear-powered and are not armed with nuclear weapons. However, Hudson noted, the nuclear-powered submarines use weapons-grade plutonium, and thus they have the capacity to be armed with nuclear weapons.
Hudson maintained that what is occurring is a massive intensification of militarization, and it has triggered popular opposition in the UK. This opposition must be strengthened through cooperation between the peace movement and trade unions.
Nabil Boukili maintained that the New Cold War is a threat to peace in the world. It is a great expense that takes diverts funds away from the needs of the working class. It implies a deepening exploitation of Africa, which functions as Europe’s backyard in supplying mineral resources for military production. Increased militarization does not respond to the needs of society.
Europe could break its alliance with the USA, Boukili observed, but the prevailing political orientation is to the follow the USA in the Cold War against China. The attacks against China are increasing, and the Workers’ Party of Belgium is the only party in the Belgian parliament to oppose the Cold War.
Accusations of human rights violations against China are hypocritical, Boukili maintains. There are many examples of human rights violations in the West and other regions, which we ignore.
Boukili declared that we need a working-class movement for peace, like the opposition to the first Iraq War. We need international cooperation, not war. Public opinion is not aware that there is a Cold War against China, so there must be the raising of consciousness and the formation of common front.
Maria Cernat observed that few politicians in Romania are prepared to criticize the Cold War rhetoric. Consistent with the strategies of the U.S. Cold war, Romania has adopted measures to exclude Chinese high-tech companies, using EU regulations against trading with state-owned or state-subsidized industries.
Cernat maintained that true independence requires an independent media, which Romania does not have. The Romanian public ought to debate the intelligence of not buying the lowest-price goods, which cannot be done in the context of the discourse of the mainstream Western media. Romana needs an independent media in Rumania, instead of following what is said in the Western mainstream media. She noted that her small collective tries to provide information different from the Western media.
Cinzia della Porta observed that the New Cold War is against the interests of the people of Europe. By increasing military spending, it imposes costs on the working class, which has suffered a decline in its standard of living since 2008. The international capitalist system has failed, and the New Cold War distracts the people from its failure.
Della Porta affirmed the commitment of the World Federation of Trade Union to peace. She called for all trade unions and progressive forces to take responsibility for presenting an alternative to capitalism, inasmuch as capitalism generates conditions for conflict.
Maite Mola maintained that the capitalist world-economy today is characterized by a tense process of multilateralism, in which the larger and stronger semi-peripheral economies, like those of the BRICS, can be included in an expanded and more diverse core. Biden supports this multilateralism, with all sufficiently-strong economies included, except China. The United States wants to maintain control of this multilateral capitalist world order, and therefore it has to exclude China, which explains the logic of the Cold War against China. Mola maintains that we must stand against capitalist multilateralism; we must convoke movements that call for a multipolar world based in dialogue, in defense of peace.
Victor Gao, Director of the China National Association of International Studies, maintained that humanity is at a critical crossroads, in which there is the option of peace and cooperation, on the one hand, and a war that would culminate in a nuclear holocaust, on the other. He noted that there are political forces in the USA that advocate for war against China; and some thinkers, citing examples among competing powers in human history, are expressing the idea that war between the USA and China is inevitable.
The Chinese scholar points out, however, that all previous wars among competing powers were pre-atomic wars; World War II was ended by two atomic bombs, but the war was conducted by powers that had not yet developed nuclear weapons, and it could have concluded without their use. But today, a war between the USA and China would be a war between nuclear powers, and it would escalate into a nuclear war. That is why peace between China and the USA is inevitable. Even high-level U.S. military officials do not want war with China, because they know it would get out of control and become a nuclear war.
Gao maintained that the Chinese paradigm reinforces the logical tendency toward peace. China does not want to replace the United States as the “top dog” or hegemonic power in the world-economy. Nor does China desire that other nations follow its model. China wants stability at home and peace abroad, inasmuch as such conditions favor the expansion of trade; China believes in trading with all other nations on a basis of mutual respect.
The Chinese orientation to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, Gao pointed out, is illustrated with respect to Taiwan. China has the capacity to take Taiwan through force; but China wants to recover Taiwan through dialogue and negotiation.
Gao noted that China has experienced a tremendous economic growth in recent decades, and by some measures, the Chinese economy has become the largest in the world. In the next couple of decades, the Chinese economy will become the largest in the world by all measures. Therefore, China does not fear a Cold War between China and the USA; China is confident that it will not lose a Cold War with the United States.
Gao believes that it would be an error for Europe to join the USA in hostility toward China, because China and Europe have significant economic relations. Europe has an interest in mutually beneficial trade with China. But China does not want to pressure European countries. Similarly, Australia has a significant trading relation with China, and it ought to reconsider its recent military pact with the USA and the UK, as not consistent with its interests.
Gao concludes that war is irrational; and peace, cooperation, and mutually beneficial trade is the inevitable road. We must all stand for peace.
Madison Tang noted that the USA is leading the Cold War on China, which has many dimensions, including the increased participation of the CIA and false charges of espionage against China. Other nations of the world, including the nations of Europe, do not have an interest in joining the Cold War against China, because it would result in their being dependent on the U.S. military, a phenomenon that has occurred with many nations.
China and the USA, Tang maintained, have fundamentally opposed projects. China has launched its Belt and Road Initiative and is developing mutually beneficial trade with the nations of the global South. In contrast, the USA destroys through militarism and imperialism.
Tang calls upon the people of the United States to reject militarism and imperialism, because only weapons manufacturers benefit from militarism. The USA, she declares, should be leading the way in promoting cooperation among nations. She notes that the peace movement has had some success in educating the public concerning the dangers of the Cold War against China.
Vijay Prashad observed that there have been three projects in European history. The first was in the period 1000 to 1500, in which the guiding philosophy was Latin Christianity. The second was the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which culminated in the French Revolution; its guiding philosophy was rationality.
The third project has been the construction of the European Union, which unlike the previous two projects, has not had a guiding philosophy to hold it together. It has had limited ambitions, perhaps because of its embarrassment over colonialism and twentieth century fascism. Lacking a guiding philosophy, the third European project has been under the political, financial, and military direction of the USA; it has suffered from dependency on the United States.
In the third European project, Prashad maintains, the needs of the people of Europe have been ignored. Europe receives most of its energy sources from Iran, Russia, and Libya. Yet no European government protested when the USA imposed economic sanctions on Iran and Russia or attacked Libya, disrupting the sources of European energy. Having failed to defend its peoples before U.S. unilateral actions, the European elite now joins in a human rights campaign with respect to the Xingiang autonomous region of China. In doing so, Europe makes hypocritical, self-righteous noise. And it creates economic problems for Europe, imposing sanctions, for example, that prevent the importation of magnesium from China, necessary for the manufacturing of cars.
Prashad notes that China increasingly trades with Europe. China has been Germany’s leading trading partner for the last five years, ahead of the USA. In the European Union, China is the second trading partner, behind the United States. Can Europe see its growing and necessary economic relation with China and Russia, and act rationally in accordance with its interests? Or will Europe join the USA in confrontation with China? Prashad hopes that the European states will opt for collaboration and cooperation, and will not follow the USA in a confrontational road.