Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/201/8467
Bush's China Syndrome
AFTER A few months in power US President George W Bush, despite presenting himself as a caring conservative during the presidential elections, is pursuing a more hardline right-wing ideology both at home and abroad.
Within weeks of taking office the dysfunctional president was threatening to 'kick the butts' of anyone who didn't respect US power; bombing Iraq and threatening a more hawkish, isolationist foreign policy.
However, during the recent stand-off over the US spy plane, cooler heads are now prevailing over Bush's hawkish behaviour. They realise an escalation of the dispute would have far more serious consequences than Bush's previous 'playground spats'.
The spy plane incident occurs at a particularly delicate time in US-Sino relations. Tensions are rising over a proposed new missile defence system which the US is considering providing to Taiwan. This followed Bill Clinton's administration accusing China of stealing sensitive US nuclear missile plans.
Also, China's leaders attacked the US's decision to proceed with the National Missile Defence system ('son of Star Wars') - effectively a new offensive nuclear weapon.
And there are rifts emerging inside the Chinese leadership about how to currently respond to the US.
This tense climate has left US secretary of state Colin Powell and other US officials trying strenuously and so far unsuccessfully to smooth things over with incensed Chinese authorities.
IN THE last decade, while political tensions between China and the US have continued, trade and commercial restrictions have thawed as the US has tried to rapidly bring China into the capitalist fold.
The US ruling class wasn't bothered by the crushing of the 'democracy movement' in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
And US capitalism isn't going to allow new human rights abuses to interfere with exploiting labour and markets in China as capitalist relations re-emerge in that country. (Nor will British capitalism, as witnessed by Tony Blair's use of heavy handed police tactics to silence protests by Chinese dissidents during President Jiang Zemin's visit to Britain in 1999.)
The US capitalist class want to tie China into the legal and political framework of the World Trade Organisation. This will allow greater market penetration by US capitalism and protection of its property rights.
The Chinese leadership want to grab a bigger slice of world markets, by exploiting its huge reserves of cheap labour as it abandons its bureaucratically planned heavy industries and collectivised agriculture.
While it's likely the current diplomatic spat between the two nuclear powers won't have any lasting effect on trade, the tensions created by the current stand-off could lead to future exchanges, not just of words, but fire power.
In The Socialist 13 April 2001: