War and the Current Situation in Asia
The world is in the clutches of a social revolution triggered and fueled by the transition of social production from electro-mechanical production to electronics. In its strategy of empire building, the goal of the U.S. is to dominate the world economically and politically in this era of history, in which the qualitatively new means of production are destroying all previous economic and social relations and laying the foundation for struggle on a world scale.
In this new world scenario, where the underlying factor is brutal competition over new global markets, Asia, and particularly China, is rising as a major international force that will define politics in the 21st century. After WWII the economic and therefore political power in the world shifted from Europe, with England at its helm, to the U.S. But since the 1980s Asia has been steadily rising as an economic force, beginning the shift from the West to the East. The 2008 global crisis only reaffirmed the U.S.’ decline. As Asia rises as a global economic force, the more U.S. supremacy is threatened, and the closer the world gets to the war.
Economic Shift to the East
“For the first time since the 16th century, the single largest concentration of global economic power will be found not in Europe, nor in America, but in Asia,” states Michael Evans in his article for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “Power Paradox: Asian Geopolitics and Sino-American Relations in the 21st Century”. The magnitude of Asia’s population – 4.3 billion, i.e. 60 percent of the world’s population, and its extensiveness in territory – from Afghanistan through Russia to Japan to Australia – no doubt aid Asia in growing into a powerful economic force.
To help wrap our brains around Asia as a continent it is helpful to see Asia the continent as three separate regional economic areas: East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The countries with the largest economies in the continent are China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia.
The economic area of East Asia is home to the world’s most dynamic economies – China, Japan and South Korea. It is no surprise then, that in 2006 East Asia’s GDP stood at 37.5 percent. East Asia claims a population of 1.5 billion people, about 38% of the population of Asia and 22% or over one fifth of all the people in the world.
While South Asia has one fifth of the world’s population (1.2 billion), with the majority living in the Republic of India, it is also the poorest region in the world. More than 40% of its population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Nonetheless, South Asia is of strategic importance to Asia, since an estimated 50% of world container traffic and 70% of ship-borne oil and petroleum transit the Indian Ocean on its way to East Asia. (60 percent of trade is by sea). Also, India has the third largest navy in Asia and is second only to the U.S. fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Southeast Asia is the smallest sub-region in Asia with a population of about 593 million and14 countries. These fourteen countries, with the exception of East Timor, are in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). But regardless of its size in population, Southeast Asia is a geopolitical and geo-economic fulcrum. This is due to the importance of the South China Sea and the expansion of trade partnerships. ASEAN’s primary goal is to establish and stabilize the area economically. In respect to the South China Sea, the territorial disputes over the Scarborough shoal between China and the Philippines threaten to embroil the region in war to the extent that China has issued warnings to its citizens in the Philippines. Meanwhile the Philippines feels assured because it has a commitment from the U.S. to protect what it considers to be Filipino territory if attacked.
U.S. and Asia Economic Ties
U.S. trade with Asia has increased from $300 billion in 1991 to $900 billion in 2006. Asian nations are also major holders of outstanding U.S. federal debt. As of December 2011, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan were among the top 10 foreign holders of U.S. federal debt amounting to $2.5 trillion, or 28.6% of the total outstanding federal debt.
President Barack Obama sees Asia as a solution to U.S. economic woes with its huge population and resources. Obama’s National Export Initiative of 2010 targeted the Asia-Pacific region, specifically China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as countries to export U.S. goods and services. Major companies from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are becoming leading competitors to those U. S. companies, because they also see their domestic and regional markets as a destination of their goods and services, as well as foreign markets beyond the region. Today, in their search for new markets, all corporations, whether Chinese or American, venture abroad to sell their products and services in execution of the law of maximum profit under capitalism, if they are to survive.
China has become a manufacturing matrix tying together all of Asia into one powerful regional economic market. Trade is what ties China to the rest of Asia and Asia to China. The reciprocal relation between China and Asia is that while China manufactures goods and services for the global market, Asian countries in turn supply China with components and parts for the manufacture of such goods and services. In this trade relationship both China and Asia benefit. China is propelling Asia’s economy upward, and China has become the world’s number one factory, making it the number one rival of the U.S. in the desperate race for markets.
Chinese and U.S. Relations
As China grows into an economic force it is becoming the main focus of U.S. military strategy. The U.S. has no qualms about flexing its military muscle to protect its economic and geopolitical interests in China and the whole of Asia. Economic supremacy is at the bottom of any war danger in the region.
The two rivals differ in philosophy in terms of achieving or maintaining their power. The U.S.’ goal is to build an empire and have worldwide hegemony. To bring the world to its knees and be subservient to U.S. needs, the U.S. military might has to be superior to all.
This is where China and the U.S. differ. China does not have an empire building strategy. While China has not been without its contradictions – the opening of the country to controlled foreign investment, the allocation of society’s resources to building up the economy, and the rise of a small but wealthy elite in the country – China’s long term goal since the Chinese Revolution has been to raise the standard of living of its people overall. To do this it has to concentrate its fiscal budget on enhancing and growing the civilian sector. This translates into feeding its population, building schools and housing complexes, and providing health care and education.
China has followed a path of bolstering its civilian economy over military expenditures. China’s military budget of $115.7 billion is only about one seventh of the U.S. military budget, estimated at about $737 billion in 2012. The U.S. military budget is the largest in the world, and it equals 39 percent of all military expenditures in the world. Without a doubt the U.S. military expenditures reflect its empire building strategy.
China’s military strategy is one of defense against invasion. It has no military bases outside its territories, while the U.S. operates and/or controls between 700 and 800 military bases worldwide. In fact, military forces are aimed and ready in South Korea, Japan, Guam, Afghanistan and Taiwan, a clear and present danger to all of Asia and particularly China.
U.S. on a War Footing
Today more than half of the U.S. discretionary budget goes to the military. The size of the U.S. military budget grows apace with its empire building strategy, particularly as Asia’s economic might grows, and more specifically China’s. The U.S. recognizes that the center of gravity for its foreign policy, national security and economic interests has to shift towards Asia, and this mandates that its strategy and priorities be adjusted accordingly.
The deteriorating world economic situation and the intensifying struggle for markets between the U.S. and Asia, particularly China, are continuing to create instability and pushing the world toward war. In such an unstable environment, the ruling classes lift historical threads from history to whip up ideological propaganda against this or that group.
Historically, when it comes to the U.S. and China rivalry, there are two geographical points of contention, Taiwan and North Korea, that the U.S. empire builders can lift to unleash a inevitable war. Their ultimate goal is to contain China and to consolidate U.S. military, political and economic power throughout the world under the new conditions of today.
Revolutionaries have to see things for what they are: in this case where is the war danger emanating from and by whom? The competition for markets is moving the U.S. empire builders to reach out and secure markets at any cost. We revolutionaries have to shed light on the real problem for everyone to see. We shed light so that we, the working classes of the world, can unite as a class, fighting for our own interests, and not for the capitalist class. This is the real meaning of proletarian internationalism.
As American revolutionaries – living in the belly of the beast – we have a special role. In the immediate sense, we have to raise consciousness so that the American worker fights against its own ruling class and against U.S. military budget increments, and demands our tax money that can be used for education, health care, food, and housing. In these battles for the necessities of life, we bring to the fore our real class interests, and reach out to our sisters and brothers in Asia. We have to raise class-consciousness so that the American workers stop being complicit with the U.S. capitalist class as it “terrorizes” the world to achieve its Empire.
Political Report of the LRNA Resident Standing Committee, July 2013.
September/October 2013. Vol23.Ed5
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