Let’s Piss on the Yellow Peril!

The paid propagandists of the ruling class who masquerade as journalists and pundits in South Africa have a problem. Lacking any actual knowledge or intellect, and lacking curiosity or energy, and lacking will, they have very little to talk about. This is why they repeat themselves incessantly, and one of the things which they repeat is that we must all gird ourselves against the dreadful menace from China. They read this in the New York Times online and copy it out laboriously, making many mistakes because they also lack skill and natural ability.
What, precisely, is this menace?
China, historically, was an Empire without imperialism. It didn’t start out that way; it started out as a number of small kingdoms which gradually merged due to conquest and diplomacy, which was what Europe didn’t do. Eventually it bumped up against the sea in the east, the jungle in the south, the tundra and desert in the north and the mountains in the west. It seemed to have reached the limits of sane habitability when it reached the limits of where millet would grow, and so it declared itself the Middle Kingdom.
In addition, it combined extreme political conservatism with extreme political stability; every couple of centuries a new gang of crooks would seize power, declare themselves the last word in sacred ruling classes, and then settle down to plunder the country until they eventually aroused such ire that the public supported a fresh gang of crooks. You could only get away with this kind of thing because you were sitting behind secure borders, with no meaningful external threat. The Chinese Empire didn’t want to be imperialist because imperialism would generate external threats which might shorten the life of the latest criminal dynasty.
Unfortunately the Chinese invented a lot of clever things, such as gunpowder, compasses and printing, which managed to spread a bit although each gang of crooks did their best to suppress these things. Eventually they reached Europe. One fine day a crowd of foreign devils, educated in schools and informed about global activities thanks to printing, equipped with firearms stuffed with gunpowder, and having found their way to the Pacific thanks to compasses, arrived on the Chinese coast. After that happened, China would never be the same. The crooks did their best to pretend that it wasn’t happening, but by the 1840s China was no longer an independent state; the Opium Wars made them a satrap of the British East India Company. In the 1860s there was a real threat of a new gang of crooks seizing power (a particularly psychopathic crowd called the Taipings) which foreign troops helped the old crooks suppress. By 1895 China wasn’t even strong enough to defeat the little monkeys from the islands off their coastline. This peeved the public so much that they formed the Society of the Harmonious and Righteous Fist to kick out the crooks again, and the foreign devils stepped in and crushed the Boxers with Maxim guns and Krupp artillery (this was the occasion when one of the leaders of the foreign devils, who styled himself the Emperor of Germany, ordered his troops to model themselves on the Huns, a phrase which rather rebounded on the Germans although the original Huns — Hsiung-nu — were refugees from the Chinese empire).
Then Sun Jatsen kicked out the Manchus and everything to hell, with the Guomindang running the country into the ground and everybody who could find a gun or make a flag setting up an independent state, and in the middle of all this chaos the little yellow monkeys from the islands arrived with slightly more advanced Maxims and modified Krupp artillery and began telling everybody that by the command of the Emperor of Japan they should get hooked on heroin and buy only Japanese goods and accept pay cuts in return. It was like every previous foreign devil invasion rolled into one, on speed and crack (but not, alas, heroin, which might have been soothing). Luckily that only lasted fourteen years, until the yellow monkeys had peeved the other foreign devils enough to make the foreign devils drop atomic bombs on them.
Jiang Gaisheq (or however the hell you spell it) then asked the Americans if he could have all the weaponry in the Pacific theatre to sort out the China problem, and the Americans obliged. Gaisheq handed this weaponry to his soldiers, who eagerly sold it on the open market (some of it going to the Communists, who didn’t really need it) and then Gaisheq wondered why his troops went wee-wee-wee all the way to the coastline, where American ships were ready to take them to Taiwan which had been under yellow-monkey occupation and was now under the Americans, who installed Jiang as leader of China. A bit as if the Governor of the Falkland Islands declared himself President of Argentina.
Now, what all this shows is that the Chinese have not only not been imperialist, they’ve never been imperialist. They have no imperialist tradition in the sense that we today understand an empire, as something which basically expands until it drops to bits, like a cancer. When the Communists took over, Mao, like Lenin, had the primary goal of trying to put everything back together. Hence they made sure that neither the Uighurs nor the Tibetans would step out of line, they crushed all dissidents and every source of power except the central state — and there they stopped. (They wanted to take back Taiwan, but they couldn’t — then. They had a long list of unfinished business, of places where the Imperial flag had once flown and where the red flag was going to fly. Sixty years on, Taiwan is now the last of these.)
Mao was not Jesus. He had his faults, the biggest of which was the totally-unrealistic Great Leap Forward, which happened at the same time as the big crushing of official dissidence (the Hundred Flowers Campaign) and, unfortunately, as a huge famine which the Great Leap Forward exascerbated (since everyone was off building unworkable infrastructure instead of harvesting the millet). Millions died, partly because everybody in office was too terrified by the anti-dissident campaign to talk about it. By comparison, the Cultural Revolution, which everybody talks about today because it represents the horror of every Western ruling class, that they might someday be held personally responsible for their crimes, was a minor blip. But the whole goal of China under Mao was to try to build the country up into a state which could protect itself against foreign attack and ultimately regain the independence which it lost in the 1840s. Towards this end, Mao was perfectly willing to put his country under the suzerainty of America, which he did in 1972, despite the stinking history of America’s treatment of China and even though the Americans had half a million troops within easy striking distance. Mao had decided that China had to choose between Russia and America, and Russia had a land border with China so posed a more serious threat — hence the big sell-out.
But China was stronger than it looked. The Communist Party, basically, Prussianised China — but it was a Prussia driven by the Party instead of by the Generalkriegskommissariat. The disciplined state was focussed on education and production and reconstruction and development. In thirty years Mao had turned a shattered basket-case into a functioning, impoverished state which was capable of sustaining rapid economic development on a scale ten times greater than that of Japan and thirty times greater than that of the “Asian Tigers”. Hence the sudden startling rise to global significance of China over the last thirty years; in 1971 the Americans generously allowed the UN to recognise China, which was seen as a huge favour; today nobody can leave China out of any debate (and probably today the Americans would be a little nervous about flattening a Chinese embassy as they did in 1999).
China is not a military threat to anybody, it has to be pointed out, despite its immense conscript army. The frontiers which protect China also protect their enemies; a march into Siberia still goes nowhere, and a march into India would still be an impossible project given the mountainous terrain of the supply lines. China is luckier than the Soviet Union in having plenty of ice-free open-ocean ports, but the Chinese navy is weak. China has a modest nuclear capacity, probably able to destroy every major city on the U.S. West Coast, bring Russia or India to their knees or exterminate the population of Japan. That’s all they need to ensure that none of those countries are going to launch a nuclear attack on them, and therefore that’s all they want. China is not building up a huge aggressive force on a modest economic base, as the Soviet Union, crazily, did.
Perhaps because of this, the Americans are a little afraid of China. They have good reason to be, since today the American economy runs on Chinese imports and, to a large extent, Chinese funding. If the Chinese stopped buying Treasury bonds the dollar would drop like a paralyzed falcon, as the Creator has pointed out. Meanwhile, if the Americans stopped buying Chinese goods there would certainly be hardship in China, but it would be more easily overcome than the hardship which that would cause in America. In short, there is an asymmetrical relationship between the two which is in China’s favour, and the Americans don’t like that but are not willing to do anything about it. The Chinese are also not rhetorically hostile to America (although the American government is extremely unpopular with the Chinese people, apart from some members of the right-wing corporate class and the subaltern mentally colonised Taiwanese elite) but they are not ever willing to do what America says unless it is in their interests; from time to time the American government has issued commands to China which China has always ignored, making America look very silly wherever there is a free press (and the Chinese press is freer than the American).
So, as a result, the Americans do their best to demonise China wherever they can. This works very well in white racist societies where the traditional “yellow peril” propaganda can be dusted off and rehashed, just as anti-Semitism has been dusted off and redeployed against Muslims. (Sinister people, don’t mix with Gentiles, think of nothing but money, out to control our women, practice bizarre and outrageous religious rituals — the rhetoric of European anti-Muslim propagandists like Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jack Straw is indistinguishable from the wit and wisdom of Julius Streicher.) But how well does this work in a country like South Africa?
Well, the elite buy into it. The Creator has heard a perfectly intelligent Ghanaian, who is despised by South Africans who suspect him of being Nigerian, denouncing the idea of setting up Mandarin classes because this would encourage Chinese imperialism. The notion that it might be sensible to understand what the inscrutable Orientals are saying while they sign on the dotted line (or, indeed, to read what is written above or below that dotted line) was beyond him. There are, certainly, some Chinese coming to South Africa. They have not, interestingly, been subject to serious xenophobic attacks, as the Somalians have, although the Chinese are just as involved in organised crime as the Somalians are (and just as inclined to trade more effectively than South Africans, which is one of the primary reasons for xenophobic attacks, so often promoted by sleazy businesspeople).
However, in reality China is not interested in political control. China wants to be left to go about its business, which is largely business. Were it true that China was behind South Africa’s denial of a visa to the Dalai Lama (this was probably a stunt pulled by the Zuma administration off its own bat) that would simply mean that the Chinese don’t enjoy being destabilised. China knows that Africa wants to sell it minerals. China is happy to buy, and does not need or desire to control Africa. (Are we really so desirable a date, let alone a marriage partner?) There is no Chinese AFRICOM. Indeed, part of the American representation of China as an imperialist power is probably a distraction from America’s bungling and futile efforts to expand their empire (which is already too large for them to control, but the imperialist way is always to expand until you collapse).
The Chinese are coming, but not in great numbers. Little yellow people will not overwhelm us, nor do we need to pass laws against them as the Americans did, or expel them as white South Africa did. Rather we should be polite and respectful to them. Partly because it is always best to be polite and respectful to anybody who has done you no harm. Partly, also, because if we aren’t, we may not want to be on China’s shit-list in twenty years’ time, when they may well be the sole surviving superpower on the planet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: