The Guardian • Issue #2073


Ideological warriors buckle on their anti-China armour

‘Is Xi Jinping losing his grip?’ The feature article in The Australian was cold war copy at its most lurid best.

Communist hammer and sickle on red star.

What prompted Greg Sheridan was a Chinese Communist Party reshuffle. This, in The Australian’s opinion, raises “many questions but few answers as China’s leader embarks on a series of purges.” Sheridan’s piece follows similar articles from around the world. The BBC asked whether “China’s recent military purges spell trouble for Xi Jinping.” There was similar  commentary from Bloomberg and World Politics Review.

There is little to distinguish these articles. They all rely on supposition, and all fall back on a style of journalism that is so much a product of the cold war. Sources are seriously lacking in evidence.

Greg Sheridan cites various ‘experts’ to show what he sees as a crisis unfolding in Beijing. To be fair, he adds disclaimers aplenty. “Blanchette doesn’t claim definitive knowledge of what’s happening behind the scenes.” Jude Blanchette is a central figure in the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, which proclaims that it is “dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world.” His other source is a “brilliant Sinologist” who doesn’t claim “any direct inside knowledge of these events.”

From such a solid base of absolutely no knowledge, The Australian foreign editor, has buckled on his cold war armour and sallied forth.

The vitriol hurled at Beijing is not based on economics, or on any actual Chinese threat. It is because  China is in the process of building a socialist economy that rivals the ‘best’ that capitalism has to offer. Sheridan reminds his readers to “bear in mind that China is the world’s second largest economy.” If that were China’s crime then the US would not be dragging the world to war. When Japan’s economy was a global second to the USA, there were no war drums being beaten.

China has been the focus of malign imperialist interest ever since its astonishing economic rise, not because it is a successful economy but because it is an ideological foe.

The US is engaged in a ceaseless military build-up in the region, aimed to stop the rise of China. This is an ideological assault. The USA must maintain economic, military and social hegemony of the world. Socialism is its enemy. Pure and simple.

Yes, for The Australian, for Greg Sheridan, for the anti-communist crusaders, it is ‘business as usual.’ It is a business that began when the spectre that Marx and Engels wrote of so many years ago, first manifested itself.

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