The following article was sent to me by its author, Eric Fish. It was written as a response to this article in the Global Times, but the Global Times declined to publish it, so we’re publishing it here.
Anti-China Conspiracy Theories Hold No Traction
By Eric Fish
On November 19th, Global Times ran an editorial entitled “UN politics tied up with China bashing.” Unfortunately the image it portrayed of a vast underground conspiracy to undermine China is all too common.
The article asserted that “hate-mongering China-bashers or anti-China groups and organizations” spurred on by the United States and its allies have been giving “behind-the-door orders” to top UN leadership to pressure China. It went on to say that the US is using its clout over UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s re-election next year as leverage to make him carry out their anti-China agenda.
Like most similar articles, there wasn’t a shred of verifiable evidence given for these claims; simply a string of argumentative fallacies surrounded by strong rhetoric.
Later, the article claimed that the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates was purposely scheduled during the same time as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum where President Hu Jintao was in attendance.
Allegedly organized by The US, its Western allies, and the Nobel Committee, this “whole globally-coordinated political showcase, which specifically targets China, is a politically-motivated and pre-calculated anti-China demonization campaign.”
I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but this one has more holes than Swiss cheese. A little research showed that the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is organized by non-governmental organizations and businesses from around the world. Its organizing committee is made up almost entirely of people who are neither Japanese nor American.
The conference itself was held in Hiroshima and focused exclusively on nuclear disarmament issues. It would be far more reasonable to see it as a snub against America rather than by it.
Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum was also held in Japan and was attended by both Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and American President Barack Obama (who declined his invitation to the Nobel summit). So even if they did have any power over the Nobel forum, why would the two countries try to upstage their own event?
Many conspiracy theorists like to claim that the US and its Western allies are pulling the strings of some massive underground effort to keep China down. But even if one ignores the fact that there’s absolutely no verifiable evidence for this, the motivations and feasibility of such an effort both serve to show the absurdity of such an idea.
China is America’s biggest creditor and has loaned the US over $22 billion just since July. At the same time American companies are betting their shirts on an increase in demand for American goods from Chinese consumers. A stronger Chinese economy with a strong Yuan is critical to achieving this. Doing anything to undermine China’s current pace of growth would be detrimental to these US interests. So what could possibly motivate the US to head a conspiracy aimed at disrupting its relationship with China and its growth?
Even if the US did have the motivation to keep China down, they would have an impossibly difficult time concealing it, much less succeeding.
Ask anyone from the Kennedy administration who, in 1961, launched “Operation Mongoose” aimed at undermining the Communist Cuban government through propaganda, sabotage and even assassination attempts on President Fidel Castro.
It didn’t take long for the half-baked scheme to be uncovered within Cuba and America…and this was decades before the internet. With today’s online vigilantes and WikiLeaks, the US government has trouble keeping even their lowest level atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan secret. And these are just internal US matters. It doesn’t even begin to demonstrate the challenges of coordinating secretly with other countries with whom the US has its own separate problems with.
Surely if there were some “whole-globally coordinated” campaign to achieve something so self-defeating as to undermine China, by now someone involved would have come forward or anonymously released related documents through a site like WikiLeaks. The absence of either of these things is probably why you never see any hard evidence provided in conspiracy theorists’ rants.
Sure, US politicians frequently use China as a political scapegoat and even threaten economic sanctions…but that’s about as far as it ever goes. Looking strong on the economy and firm on human rights to their constituents wins these leaders big political points, but they know doing anything truly provocative or threatening to China’s stability would be economic suicide.
Conspiracy theories like this are appealing and they’re a good tool in generating fear for political uses, but in reality the evidence just doesn’t afford them any credibility.
The author is a master’s candidate of Global Business Journalism at Tsinghua University. email@example.com