U.S. Imperialism in the South China Sea

by Robert Lovely

We Americans are no strangers to fanciful narratives and tall tales, especially those that conveniently “vindicate” the status quo of our nation’s many transgressions. From nearly the moment of our nation’s conception to the present day, the United States state media apparatus has used all manner of trickery and appeal to sway the American public toward imperialist ambitions. Unfortunately, these methods have been refined over centuries by the capitalist class, and indeed their rate of success is very high, to the chagrin of the communists across our country and the world.

This phenomenon is clearly on display in the current political situation between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — an ongoing turmoil in the South China Sea and the island of Taiwan. This region holds many economically significant ports and sea routes. Routes spread from nations unfriendly to U.S. imperialism such as China and Vietnam, to those that expedite it such as Japan. In the South China Sea, the U.S. is once again using its pernicious media outlets, diplomatic deception, military posturing, and economic warfare to legitimize future conflict with the PRC as more and more nations cooperate with Chinese investment, and more still direct major trading relations toward China. In addition to turning their focus away from the U.S.

Capitalist state media has been in a long-standing propaganda battle with the PRC. In their efforts they have made use of many tried and true tools of disinformation. These tools, time and time again, have allowed Imperialist powers to justify their brutal operations to the wider populace.

Desperate Lies

One is hard pressed to have not come across what is referred to as “nuclear anxiety” regarding the PRC in recent years. Several claims proliferate that the Chinese state has violated long standing treaties and pacts regarding the accumulation or use of nuclear weapons, with little to no standing. This echoes from recent conflicts the U.S. has been engaged in, wherein it has painted its imperial targets as being nuclear threats (nations much smaller and less capable of nuclear infrastructure than China no less: Iran, Iraq, North Korea, etc.). Of course, this is extremely hypocritical, considering the U.S. to be the only nation in history to use nuclear weapons in war.

In a feat of limitless irony, western media has made many claims of China’s apparent imperialism; From the Belt and Road Initiative being a simple cover for colonizing and pillaging the African Continent, to the idea of Chinese expansionism, to the accusations of genocide of the Uyghur people of China’s Xinjiang region. This, all despite the military bases, refineries, sweatshops, and institutions of modern slavery owned and operated by the U.S. and company.

However, no method of inventing reality seems to work more in the favor of American Imperialism than branding themselves as the police of the world, defender of democracy, and ally to the underdog. Enter Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, governed by the remnants of the Republic of China. This government is a far-right regime protected by Western powers, since its exile from the mainland by the People’s Liberation Army. U.S media has spared no expense to prop Taiwan as a victim of the PRC, and a possible future target for Chinese expansion.

Stoking the Fire

The American public was “treated” to intense Sino phobic propaganda over the entire course of the Trump administration’s tenure. However, as is apparent to most though galvanizing to few, bourgeois democratic governments never rule out imperialism. In that spirit, the Biden administration has engaged in its fair share of plundering.

Joe Biden has utilized the flagrant anti-China rhetoric of the Trump administration to prop himself as a more reasonable approach to the growing tensions between the US and the PRC. However, his foreign policy is no less confrontational. Biden hides this in his press conferences. He claims that his repeated meetings with representatives from intensely anti-China powers to “hold China accountable”, is not to be taken as aggression toward the state.

This facade was pigeonholed when Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker of the United States Congress, carried out a diplomatic visit to Taiwan in August of 2022. For such a high-ranking U.S. official to visit a contested territory at a time lime this was a conspicuously escalatory move on the part of U.S foreign policy. The Chinese party, state, and foreign officials were outraged at this move. Some political analysts were concerned over the possible outbreak of a new Taiwan Strait Crisis. Others knew it would at least define relations between the two nations for months.

However, the diplomatic smokescreen the administration has held was never entirely too difficult to see through. The illusion of hesitancy is easily broken by the presence of one’s battleships on the horizon. The American military is hardly secretive about their presence in the South China Sea — as well as waters proximal to Vietnam and the Philippines. Their reasoning is also conspicuous: to contest maritime territory claims from the PRC. To set a boundary from their overseas territories, allies, and puppet states. Despite this long-standing political issue, and it’s near universal recognizability as a bold overstep on the part of the American hegemony, it remains a fixture in military operations.

Salting the Earth

The Right will always be the right, blue or red, and the Right hates competition as much as they claim to love it. Since the last electoral spectacle, most Americans seemed to expect less aggressive economic policies against China. This prediction remains unfulfilled to this day. The tariffs set in place during the Trump Presidency remain without any sign of letting up soon. Biden has made several statements regarding his intent for “intense competition” with the PRC. Though of course this is framed as being entirely within the bounds of legality.

The U.S-China Trade War has no signs of ending anytime soon. While the PRC is focused on her economic growth and increasing influence, the U.S is focusing heavily on keeping its position as the economic hegemon on Earth. This is a key sign of a failing empire: desperation to maintain power in an era hostile to its old habits. As history has shown, a cornered animal will destroy everything it can before being put down, and American Imperialism is an animal of equal fragility and ferocity.

As shown in many examples, these economic aggressions are levied usually before military conflict on the part of the offending party. The U.S, being of very little exception, with the only barrier perhaps being mutually assured destruction. Rest assured however, the U.S is more than willing to engage in proxy wars to lay waste to her enemies. U.S media is already beginning to pull the same old tricks on several nations switching over to primary trade with China.

Americans at large, and especially American Communists, must vigilantly watch the situation with China and its development. Whether China is imperialist or not has been long debated by communists, and of course if it is then it must be condemned. However, we are American communists, and as such we must never stand by and allow our nation (the dominant imperialist force on Earth) to continue its imperialist practices without resistance. The circumstances seem to point to the U.S creating the conditions necessary to fight China on a grander scale. Whether this takes the form of all out conflict, or another Cold War is yet to be seen. Either way, Lenin made it clear what our mission is during times like these. In Socialism and War, “A revolutionary class cannot but wish for the defeat of its government in a reactionary war, cannot fail to see that its military reverses facilitate its overthrow” (Lenin 35).

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