Jeffrey Sachs’ contextualisation of America’s “crusade” against China is worth reading, what with Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s secretary of state, recently touring the world to push his aggressive agenda.
On August 11, Mr Pompeo took off for Europe – Prague, Pilsen, Ljubljana, Vienna and Warsaw. He finished the tour at the weekend. In the Slovenian capital, he was slated to sign a Joint Declaration on 5G technology. It’s part of the usual exaggerated warnings from Washington these days about the risks posed by communist China’s “infiltration into high-tech networks”.
Professor Sachs takes a good long look at American, and especially Mr Pompeo’s rhetoric about China and notes the dangers of “extremist, simplistic, and dangerous” positions. The world could be heading for war, he warned, and more because of a particularly apocalyptic American evangelism than anything else.
So to Mr Pompeo’s crusade.
Not too long ago, he said that China’s President Xi Jinping and its ruling Communist Party harbour a “decades-long desire for global hegemony.” The irony, of course, as Professor Sachs points out, is that “only one country – the US – has a defense strategy calling for it to be the ‘preeminent military power in the world’.”
Furthermore, writes Professor Sachs, the US has roughly 800 overseas military bases and China just one (in Djibouti); the US has many military bases close to China, but the reverse isn’t true; the US has 5,800 nuclear warheads and China roughly 320, and finally, the US has 11 aircraft carriers but China has just one.
He then clinches his argument about American hypocrisy in accusing China of the very actions the US has already undertaken: “The US has launched many overseas wars in the past 40 years,” he writes, “China has launched none (though it has been criticized for border skirmishes, most recently with India, that stop short of war).”
The Professor goes on in that vein, adding correctly that China still has quite “a lot of catching up to do to achieve even its basic economic development goals”. Consequently, China doesn’t pose the enormous threat that Mr Pompeo has been warning about.
All of this matters as we look ahead to the November 3 US presidential election. If Mr Trump wins, Mr Pompeo’s Christian evangelism, says Professor Sachs, may push the anti-China rhetoric even harder. For, he “is a biblical literalist who believes that the end time, the apocalyptic battle between good and evil, is imminent”.
It’s a worrying prospect and unfortunately, all too real.