The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 44      November 27, 2017

(front page)

Washington faces growing competition from Beijing

Long-term conflicts between Washington and Beijing marked President Donald Trump’s 12-day tour of Asia. For years the U.S. rulers have confronted the steady rise of Chinese capitalist penetration in a part of the world they considered their prize won in the second imperialist world war.

Washington has grown relatively stronger, particularly in relation to London, Berlin and other rival imperialist powers in Europe, which lack any serious military strength to back up their investments abroad. The U.S. rulers also face a growing challenge from Beijing and Moscow. They are no longer just new markets for investment, trade and capital growth, but their rulers are increasingly aggressive capitalist competitors. In multiple markets, U.S. bosses confront moves by Beijing to muscle into parts of the world where the U.S. rulers are used to having their way.

Trump met with the heads of state of Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. In particular he directed complaints at Beijing, arguing its regulations “prevent American companies from being able to fairly compete within China.”

Like his predecessors, Trump claims to advance “American interests.” But in reality, he means something else. There is no “America,” there are two contending classes in the U.S. — the working class and the propertied owners — with sharply opposed interests. Trump fights for the interests of U.S. bosses and bankers in cutthroat competition with their rivals abroad over markets and trade.

During the tour Trump reiterated his decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, favoring what he called “bilateral agreements,” and announced new business deals along the way. But neither the current nor previous administrations have come up with any effective way for the U.S. rulers to contain the increased reach of Chinese capital.

Growth of working class in China
Over more than three decades the Chinese government has lured foreign capitalist investment, promising low wages and state-controlled trade unions to keep workers in line. The massive expansion of Chinese industry — and the explosive growth of the working class there — has turned that nation into the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter. The spread of capitalist exploitation led to some 8,000 strikes or job protests between 2011 and 2016.

To advance Chinese capitalists’ fight for markets, Beijing has pressed trade deals and huge infrastructure projects on other nations, known as its “Belt and Road” policy. It is constructing railways, roads, fuel pipelines and power stations across Asia that will expand its reach into Europe and Africa. These projects require use of Chinese materials and labor, to the detriment of the toilers there.

Beijing opened its first overseas military base this August in Djibouti. The country already hosts U.S., French and Japanese military installations.

India’s rulers have responded to these initiatives with alarm. New Delhi is concerned about Beijing’s rising clout and closer relations with its rival Pakistan.

During his Asian tour Trump repeatedly referred to the region as the “Indo-Pacific,” a remark that was widely read as an effort to draw India closer to Washington’s orbit. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month that Washington was determined to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road projects with U.S.-backed competition.

President Trump took advantage of the trip to press Beijing and Moscow to step up economic and political measures to pressure North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. Washington has imposed numerous rounds of sanctions against the government there that have hit working people the hardest.

Both Trump and Chinese leaders sought economic and political deals with other Asian rulers during the week’s meetings. In particular, Trump worked to reforge Washington’s links with the government of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. Duterte has been increasing ties with China and Russia.

Despite China’s growing economic and political weight, Washington holds significant advantages over its rivals. Some 64 percent of all foreign reserves worldwide are held in U.S. dollars.

Above all the U.S. rulers hold a military might no rival comes anywhere close to matching. In addition to its nuclear arsenal and unsurpassed naval and air power, Washington deploys 39,000 troops in Japan and an additional 23,000 in South Korea. It has tens of thousands more worldwide, including deployed in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Niger and elsewhere.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home