The new U.S. movement--and China
jacdon at SPAMearthlink.net
jacdon at SPAMearthlink.net
Wed May 17 14:13:54 MDT 2000
One of the cutting-edge issues confronting the developing
new progressive movement in the U.S.--particularly those
forces growing out of Seattle and A16 Washington--is the
question of whether China has the right to have normal trade
relations with the U.S. and the right to join the World
Trade Organization. How this question is resolved will have
a strong influence on the future political direction of the
new movement. What follows is a unique contribution to the
debate over China written by Walden Bello and Anuradha
Mittal, answering point by point the objections put forward
by the anti-China wing of the movement in a measured and
fraternal tone. (Bello is executive director of Focus on the
Global South, a program of research, analysis, and capacity
building based in Bangkok; Mittal is co-director of the
Oakland-based Institute for Food and Development Policy,
better known as Food First.) The article is long, and I do not
share all its assumptions, but for those concerned about
the future direction of this movement I think many on this
list will find it enlightening.
Jack A. Smith, Highland, NY
DANGEROUS LIAISONS: PROGRESSIVES, THE RIGHT,
AND THE ANTI-CHINA TRADE CAMPAIGN
By Walden Bello and Anuradha Mittal*
Institute for Food and Development Policy, May 2000
Like the United States, China is a country that is full of
contradictions. It is certainly not a country that can be summed up
as "a rogue nation that decorates itself with human rights abuses as
if they were medals of honor."1 This characterization by AFL-CIO
chief John Sweeney joins environmentalist Lester Brown's
Cassandra-like warnings about the Chinese people in hitting a new low
in the rhetoric of the Yellow Peril tradition in American populist
politics. Brown accuses the Chinese of being the biggest threat to
the world's food supply because they are climbing up the food chain
by becoming meat-eaters.2
These claims are disconcerting. At other times, we may choose not to
engage their proponents. But not today, when they are being bandied
about with studied irresponsibility to reshape the future of
relations between the world's most populous nation and the world's
most powerful one.
A coalition of forces seeks to deprive China of permanent normal
trading relations (PNTR) as a means of obstructing that country's
entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). We do not approve of
the free-trade paradigm that underpins NTR status. We do not support
the WTO; we believe, in fact, that it would be a mistake for China to
join it. But the real issue in the China debate is not the
desirability or undesirability of free trade and the WTO. The real
issue is whether the United States has the right to serve as the
gatekeeper to international organizations such as the WTO. More
broadly, it is whether the United States government can arrogate to
itself the right to determine who is and who is not a legitimate
member of the international community. The issue is
unilateralism--the destabilizing thrust that is Washington's oldest
approach to the rest of the world.
The unilateralist anti-China trade campaign enmeshes many progressive
groups in the US in an unholy alliance with the right wing that,
among other things, advances the Pentagon's grand strategy to contain
China. It splits a progressive movement that was in the process of
coming together in its most solid alliance in years. It is, to borrow
Omar Bradley's characterization of the Korean War, "the wrong war at
the wrong place at the wrong time."
The Real China
To justify US unilateralism vis-a-vis China, opponents of NTR for
China have constructed an image of China that could easily have come
out of the pen of Joseph McCarthy.
But what really is China? Since the anti-China lobby has done such a
good job telling us about China's bad side, it might be appropriate
to begin by showing the other side.
Many in the developing world admire China for being one of the
world's most dynamic economies, growing between 7-10 per cent a year
over the past decade. Its ability to push a majority of the
population living in abject poverty during the Civil War period in
the late forties into decent living conditions in five decades is no
mean achievement. That economic dynamism cannot be separated from an
event that most countries in the global South missed out on: a social
revolution in the late forties and early fifties that eliminated the
worst inequalities in the distribution of land and income and
prepared the country for economic takeoff when market reforms were
introduced into the agricultural sector in the late 1970's.
China likewise underlines a reality that many in the North, who are
used to living under powerful states that push the rest of the world
around, fail to appreciate: this is the critical contribution of a
liberation movement that decisively wrests control of the national
economy from foreign interests. China is a strong state, born in
revolution and steeled in several decades of wars hot and cold. Its
history of state formation accounts for the difference between China
and other countries of the South, like Thailand, Brazil, Nigeria, and
South Korea. In this it is similar to that other country forged in
Foreign investors can force many other governments to dilute their
investment rules to accommodate them. That is something they find
difficult to do in China and Vietnam, which are prepared to impose a
thousand and one restrictions to make sure that foreign capital
indeed contributes to development, from creating jobs to actually
The Pentagon can get its way in the Philippines, Korea, and even
Japan. These are, in many ways, vassal states. In contrast, it is
very careful when it comes to dealing with China and Vietnam, both of
whom taught the US that bullying doesn't pay during the Korean War
and the Vietnam War, respectively.
Respect is what China and Vietnam gets from transnationals and
Northern governments. Respect is what most of our governments in the
global South don't get. When it comes to pursuing national interests,
what separates China and Vietnam from most of our countries are
successful revolutionary nationalist movements that got
institutionalized into no-nonsense states.
What is the "Case" against China?
Of course, China has problems when it comes to issues such as its
development model, the environment, workers rights, human rights and
democracy. But here the record is much more complex than the picture
painted by many US NGO's.
- - The model of development of outward -oriented growth built on
exports to developed country markets of labor-intensive products is
no scheme to destroy organized labor thought up by an evil regime.
This is the model that has been prescribed for over two decades by
the World Bank and other Western-dominated development institutions
for the developing countries. When China joined the World Bank in the
early eighties, this was the path to development recommended by the
officials and experts of that institution.
Through the strategic manipulation of aid, loans, and the granting of
the stamp of approval for entry into world capital markets, the Bank
pushed export-oriented, labor-intensive manufacturing and discouraged
countries from following domestic-market-oriented growth based on
rising wages and incomes. In this connection, it must be pointed out
that World Bank policies vis-Ö-vis China and the Third World were
simply extensions of policies in the US, Britain, and other countries
in the North, where the Keynesian or Social Democratic path based on
rising wages and incomes was foreclosed by the anti-labor,
pro-capitalist neoliberal policies of Ronald Reagan, Margaret
Thatcher, and their ideological allies.
- - True, development in China has been accompanied by much
environmental destruction and must be criticized. But what many
American environmentalists forget is that the model of double-digit
GDP growth based on resource-intensive, waste-intensive,
toxic-intensive production and unrestrained levels of consumption is
one that China and other developing countries have been enouraged to
copy from the North, where it continues to be the dominant paradigm.
Again, the World Bank and the whole Western neoclassical economics
establishment, which has equated development with unchecked levels of
consumption, must bear a central part of the blame.
Northern environmentalists love to portray China as representing the
biggest future threat to the global environment. They assume that
China will simply emulate the unrestrained consumer-is-king model of
the US and the North. What they forget to mention is that per capita
consumption in China is currently just one tenth of that of developed
countries.3 What they decline to point out is that the US, with five
per cent of the world's population, is currently the biggest single
source of global climate change, accounting as it does for a quarter
of global greenhouse gas emissions. As the Center for Science and
Environment (CSE) points out, the carbon emission level of one US
citizen in 1996 was equal to that of 19 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 17
Maldivians, 49 Sri Lankans, 107 Bangladeshis, 134 Bhutanese, or 269
When it comes to food consumption, Lester Brown's picture of Chinese
meat eaters and milk consumers destabilizing food supply is simply
ethnocentric, racist, and wrong. According to FAO data, China's
consumption of meat in 1992-94 was 33 kg per capita and this is
expected to rise to 60 kg per capita in 2020. In contrast, the
comparable figures for developed countries was 76 kg per capita in
1992-94, rising to 83 kg in 2020. When it comes to milk, China's
consumption was 7 kg per capita in 1992-94, rising marginally to 12
kg in 2020. Per capita consumption in developed countries, in
contrast was 195 kg and declining only marginally to 189 kg in 2020.5
The message of these two sets of figures is unambiguous: the
unchecked consumption levels in the United States and other Northern
countries continue to be the main destabilizer of the global
- - True, China is no workers' paradise. Yet it is simplistic to say
that workers have no rights, or that the government has, in the
manner of a pimp, delivered its workers to transnationals to exploit.
There are unions; indeed, China has the biggest trade union
confederation in the world, with 100 million members. Granted, this
confederation is closely linked with the government. But this is also
the case in Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and
many other countries. The Chinese trade unions are not independent
from government, but they ensure that workers' demands and concerns
are not ignored by government. If the Chinese government were
anti-worker, as AFL-CIO propaganda would have it, it would have
dramatically reduced its state enterprise sector by now. It is
precisely concern about the future of the hundreds of millions of
workers in state enterprises that has made the government resist the
prescription to radically dismantle the state enterprise sector
coming from Chinese neoliberal economists, foreign investors, the
business press, and the US government--all of whom are guided by a
narrow efficiency/profitability criterion, and are completely
insensitive to the sensitivity to employment issues of the government.
The fact is that workers in China probably have greater protection
and access to government than industrial workers who live in
right-to-work states (where non-union shops are encouraged by law) in
the United States. If there is a government that must be targeted by
the AFL-CIO for being anti-labor, it must be its own government,
which, in collusion with business, has stripped labor of so many of
its traditional legal protections and rights that the proportion of
US workers unionized is down to only 13 per cent of the work force!
- - True, there is much to be done in terms of bringing genuine
democracy and greater respect for human rights in China. And
certainly, actions like the Tienanmen massacre and the repression of
political dissidents must be condemned, in much the same way that
Amnesty International severely criticizes the United States for
relying on mass incarceration as a principal mechanism of social
control.6But this is not a repressive regime devoid of legitimacy
like the Burmese military junta.
As in the United States and other countries, there is a lot of
grumbling about government, but this cannot be said to indicate lack
of legitimacy on the part of the government. Again and again, foreign
observers in China note that while there might be disaffection, there
is widespread acceptance of the legitimacy of the government.
Monopolization of decision making by the Communist Party at the
regional and national level is still the case, but relatively free
elections now take place in many of the country's rural villages in
an effort to deconcentrate power from Beijing to better deal with
rural economic problems, according to New York Times columnist Thomas
Friedman, who is otherwise quite critical of the Chinese leadership.7
Indeed, lack of Western-style multiparty systems and periodic
competitive elections does not mean that the government is not
responsive to people. The Communist Party is all too aware of the
fact that its continuing in power is dependent on popular legitimacy.
This legitimacy in turn depends on convincing the masses that it is
doing an adequate job its fulfilling four goals: safeguarding
national sovereignty, avoiding political instability, raising
people's standard of living, and maintaining the rough tradition of
equality inherited from the period of classical socialism. The drama
of recent Chinese history has been the way the party has tried to
stay in power by balancing these four concerns of the population.
This balancing act has been achieved, Asia expert Chalmers Johnson
writes, via an "ideological shift from an all-embracing communism to
an all-embracing nationalism [that has] helped to hold Chinese
society together, giving it a certain intellectual and emotional
energy and stability under the intense pressures of economic
- - As for demand for democratic participation, this is certainly
growing and should be strongly supported by people outside China. But
it is wishful thinking to claim that US-style forms of democratic
expression have become the overwhelming demand of the population.
While one might not agree with all the points he makes, a more
accurate portrayal of the state of things than that given by the
anti-China lobby is provided by the English political philosopher
John Gray in his classic work False Dawn:
China's current regime is undoubtedly transitional, but rather than
moving towards "democratic capitalism," it is evolving from the
western, Soviet institutions of the past into a modern state more
suited to Chinese traditions, needs, and circumstances. Liberal
democracy is not on the historical agenda for China. It is very
doubtful if the one-child policy, which even at present is often
circumvented, could survive a transition to liberal democracy. Yet,
as China's present rulers rightly believe, an effective population
policy is indispensable if scarcity of resources is not to lead to
ecological catastrophe and political crisis. Popular memories of the
collapse of the state and national defenselessness between the world
wars are such that any experiment with political liberalization which
appears to carry the risk of near-anarchy of post-Soviet Russia will
be regarded with suspicion or horror by the majority of Chinese. Few
view the break-up of the state other than a supreme evil. The present
regime has a potent source of popular legitimacy in the fact that so
far it has staved off that disaster.
It is against this complex backdrop of a country struggling for
development under a political system, which, while not democratic
along Western lines, is nevertheless legitimate, and which realizes
that its continuing legitimacy depends on its ability to deliver
economic growth that one must view the recent debate in the US over
the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to China.
PNTR is the standard tariff treatment that the United States gives
nearly all its trading partners, with the exception of China,
Afghanistan, Serbia-Montenegro, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam.
Granting of PNTR is seen as a key step in China's full accession to
the World Trade Organization (WTO) since the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement
establishing the WTO requires members to extend NTR to other WTO
members mutually and without conditions. This is the reason that the
fight over PNTR is so significant, in that it is integrally linked to
China's full accession to the WTO.
Organized labor is at the center of a motley coalition that is
against granting PNTR to China. This coalition includes right wing
groups and personalities like Pat Buchanan, the old anti-China lobby
linked to the anti-communist Kuomintang Party in Taiwan,
protectionist US business groups, and some environmentalist, human
rights, and citizens' rights groups. The intention of this right-left
coalition is to be able to use trade sanctions to influence China's
economic and political behavior as well as to make it difficult for
China to enter the WTO.
There are fundamental problems with the position of this alliance,
many of whose members are, without doubt, acting out of the best
First of all, the anti-China trade campaign is essentially another
manifestation of American unilateralism. Like many in the anti-PNTR
coalition, we do not uphold the free-trade paradigm that underpins
the NTR. Like many of them, we do not think that China will benefit
from WTO membership. But what is at issue here is not the
desirability or non-desirability of the free trade paradigm and the
WTO in advancing people's welfare. What is at issue here is
Washington's unilateral moves to determine who is to be a legitimate
member of the international economic community--in this case, who is
qualified to join and enjoy full membership rights in the WTO.
This decision of whether or not China can join the WTO is one that
must be determined by China and the 137 member-countries of the WTO,
without one power exercising effective veto power over this process.
To subject this process to a special bilateral agreement with the
United States that is highly conditional on the acceding country's
future behavior falls smack into the tradition of unilateralism.
One reason the anti-China trade campaign is particularly disturbing
is that it comes on the heels of a series of recent unilateralist
acts, the most prominent of which have been Washington's cruise
missile attacks on alleged terrorist targets in the Sudan and
Afghanistan in August 1998, its bombing of Iraq in December 1998, and
the US-instigated 12-week NATO bombardment of Kosovo in 1999. In all
three cases, the US refused to seek UN sanction or approval but chose
to act without international legal restraints. Serving as the
gatekeeper for China's integration into the global economic community
is the economic correlate of Washington's military unilateralism.
Second, the anti-China trade campaign reeks of double standards. A
great number of countries would be deprived of PNTR status were the
same standards sought from China applied to them, including Singapore
(where government controls the labor movement), Mexico (where labor
is also under the thumb of government), Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
states (where women are systematically relegated by law and custom to
second-class status as citizens), Pakistan (where a military
dictatorship reigns), Brunei (where democratic rights are
non-existent), to name just a few US allies. What is the logic and
moral basis for singling out China when there are scores of other
regimes that are, in fact, so much more insensitive to the political,
economic, and social needs of their citizenries?
Third, the campaign is marked by what the great Senator J. William
Fulbright denounced as the dark side of the American spirit that led
to the Vietnam debacle--that is, "the morality of absolute
self-assurance fired by the crusading spirit."10 It draws emotional
energy not so much from genuine concerns for human and democratic
rights in China but from the knee-jerk emotional ensemble of
anti-communism that continues to plague the US public despite the end
of the Cold War. When one progressive organizer says that non-passage
of the PNTR would inflict defeat on "the brutal, arrogant, corrupt,
autocratic, and oligarchic regime in Beijing," the strong language is
not unintentional: it is meant to hit the old Cold War buttons to
mobilize the old anti-communist, conservative constituency, in the
hope of building a right-left populist base that could--somehow--be
directed at "progressive" ends.
Fourth, the anti-China trade campaign is intensely hypocritical. As
many critics of the campaign have pointed out, the moral right of the
US to deny permanent normal trading rights to China on social and
environmental grounds is simply nonexistent given its record: the
largest prison population in the world, the most state-sponsored
executions of any country in the world, the highest income
disparities among industrialized countries, the world's biggest
emitter of greenhouse gases, and quasi-slavery conditions for farm
Fifth, the anti-China trade campaign is intellectually flawed. The
issue of labor control in China lies at the core of the campaign,
which blames China's government for the low wages that produce the
very competitively priced goods that are said to contribute to
displacing US industries and workers. This is plain wrong: the
relatively low wages in China stem less from wage repression than
from the dynamics of economic development. Widespread poverty or low
economic growth are the main reasons for the low wages in developing
countries. Were the state of unionism the central determinant of wage
levels, as the AFL-CIO claims, labor costs in authoritarian China and
democratic India, with its formally free trade union movement, would
not be equal, as they, in fact, are.
Similarly, it is mainly the process of economic growth--the dynamic
interaction between the growing productivity of labor, the reduction
of the wage-depressing surplus of rural labor, and rising
profits--that triggers the rapid rise in wage levels in an economy,
as shown in the case of Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore, which had no
independent unions and where strikes were illegal during their
periods of rapid development.12
Saying that the dynamics of development rather than the state of
labor organizing is by far the greatest determinant of wage levels is
not to say that the organization of labor is inconsequential.
Successful organizing has gotten workers a higher level of wages than
would be possible were it only the dynamics of economic development
that were at work. It is not to argue that labor organizing is not
desirable in developing economies. Of course, it is not only
desirable but necessary, so that workers can keep more of the value
of production for themselves, reduce their exploitation by
transnational and state capitalist elites, and gain more control over
their conditions of work.
Sixth, the anti-China trade campaign is dishonest. It invokes concern
about the rights of Chinese workers and the rights of the Chinese
people, but its main objective is to protect American jobs against
cheap imports from China. This is cloaking self-interest with
altruistic rhetoric. What the campaign should be doing is openly
acknowledging that its overriding goal is to protect jobs, which is a
legitimate concern and goal. And what it should be working for is not
invoking sanctions on human rights grounds, but working out solutions
such as managed trade, which would seek to balance the need of
American workers to protect their jobs while allowing the market
access that allows workers in other countries to keep their jobs and
their countries to sustain a certain level of growth while they move
to change their development model.13
Instead, what the rhetoric of the anti-China trade campaign does is
to debase human rights and democratic rights language with its
hypocrisy while delegitimizing the objective of protecting
jobs--which is a central social and economic right--by concealing it.
Seventh, the anti-China trade campaign is a classic case of blaming
the victim. China is not the enemy. Indeed, it is a prisoner of a
global system of rules and institutions that allows transnational
corporations to take advantage of the differential wage levels of
counties at different levels of development to increase their
profits, destabilize the global environment by generalizing an
export-oriented, high-consumption model of development, and
concentrate global income in fewer and fewer hands.
Not granting China PNTR will not affect the functioning of this
global system. Not giving China normal trading and investment rights
will not harm transnational corporations; they will simply take more
seriously the option of moving to Indonesia, Mauritius, or Mexico,
where their ability to exact concessions is greater than in China,
which can stand up to foreign interests far better than the weak
governments of these countries.
What the AFL-CIO and others should be doing is targeting this global
system, instead of serving up China as a proxy for it.
A Positive Agenda
The anti-China trade campaign amounts to a Faustian bargain that
seeks to buy some space for US organized labor at the expense of real
solidarity with workers and progressive worker and environmental
movements globally against transnational capital. But by buying into
the traditional US imperial response of unilateralism, it will end up
eventually eroding the position of progressive labor, environmental,
and civil society movements both in the US and throughout the world.
What organized labor and US NGO's should be doing, instead, is
articulating a positive agenda aimed at weakening the power of global
corporations and multilateral agencies that promote TNC-led
The first order of business is to not allow the progressive movement
to be sandbagged in the pro-permanent normal trade relations,
anti-permanent normal trade relations terms of engagement that now
frames the debate. While progressives must, for the time being,
oppose the more dangerous threat posed by the unilateralists, they
should be developing a position on global economic relations that
avoids both the free trade paradigm that underlies the PNTR and the
unilateralist paradigm of the anti-PNTR forces. The model we propose
is managed trade, which allows trading partners to negotiate
bilateral and multilateral treaties that address central issues in
their relationship--among them, the need to preserve workers jobs in
the US with the developing countries' need for market access.
Advocacy of managed trade must, however, be part of a broader
campaign for progressive global economic governance. The strategic
aim of such a campaign must be the tighter regulation, if not
replacement, of the model corporate-led free market development that
seeks to do away with social and state restrictions on the mobility
of capital at the expense of labor. In its place must be established
a system of genuine international cooperation and looser global
economic integration that allows countries to follow paths of
national and regional development that make the domestic market and
regional markets rather than the global market the engine of growth,
development, and job creation.
This means support for measures of asset and income redistribution
that would create the purchasing power that will make domestic
markets viable. It means support for trade measures and capital
controls that will give countries more control over their trade and
finance so that commodity and capital flows become less disruptive
and destabilizing. It means support for regional integration or
regional economic union among the developing countries as an
alternative to indiscriminate globalization.
A key element in this campaign for a new global economic governance
is the abolition of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank,
and the World Trade Organization that serve as the pillars of the
system of corporate-led globalization and their replacement with a
pluralistic system of institutions that complement but at the same
time check and balance one another, thus giving the developing
countries the space to pursue their paths to development.
The IMF, World Bank, and WTO are currently experiencing a severe
crisis of legitimacy, following the debacle in Seattle, the April
protests in Washington, and the release of the report of the
International Financial Institutions Advisory Commission (Meltzer
Commission) appointed by the US Congress, which recommends the
radical downsizing or transformation of the Bank and Fund.14 Now is
the time for the progressive movement to take the offensive and push
for the elimination or radical transformation of these institutions.
Yet, here we are, being waylaid from this critical task at this key
moment by an all-advised, divisive campaign to isolate the wrong
Another key thrust of a positive agenda is a coordinated drive by
civil society groups in the North and the South to pressure the US,
China, and all other governments to ratify and implement all
conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and give
the ILO more effective authority to monitor, supervise, and
adjudicate implementation of these conventions. This campaign must be
part of a broader effort to support the formation of genuine labor
unions in China, the Southern United States, and elsewhere in a
spirit of real workers' solidarity. This, instead of relying on
government trade sanctions that are really self-serving rather than
meant to support Third World workers, is the route to the creation of
really firm ties of solidarity across North-South lines.
This social and economic program must be tied to a strategy for
protecting the global environment that also eschews sanctions as an
approach and puts the emphasis on promoting sustainable development
models in place of the export-led, high-consumption development
model; pushes the adoption of common environmental codes that prevent
transnational firms from pitting one country against another in their
search for the zero cost environmental regimes; and promotes an
environmental Marshall Plan aimed at transferring appropriate green
process and production technologies to China and other developing
Above all, this approach must focus not on attacking China and the
South but on strategically changing the production and consumption
behavior and levels in the North that are by far the biggest source
of environmental destabilization.
Finally, a positive agenda must have as a central element civil
society groups in the North working constructively with people's
movements in China, the United States, and other countries
experiencing democratic deficits to support the expansion of
democratic space. While the campaign must be uncompromising in
denouncing acts of repression like the Tienanmen Square massacre and
Washington's use of mass incarceration as a tool of social control,
it must avoid imposing the forms of Western procedural democracy on
others and hew to the principle that it is the people in these
countries themselves that must take the lead in building democracy
according to their rhythm, traditions, and cultures.
The anti-PNTR coalition is an alliance born of opportunism. In its
effort to block imports from China, the AFL-CIO is courting the more
conservative sectors of the US population, including the Buchananite
right wing, by stirring the old Cold War rhetoric. Nothing could be a
more repellent image of this sordid project than John Sweeney, James
Hoffa, President of the Teamsters, and Pat Buchanan holding hands in
the anti-China trade rally on April 12, 2000, with Buchanan promising
to make Hoffa his top negotiator of trade, if he won the race for
Some environmental groups and citizens groups which have long but
unsuccessfully courted labor, have, in turn, endorsed the campaign
because they see it as the perfect opportunity to build bridges to
the AFL-CIO. What we have, as a result, is an alliance built on the
assertion of US unilateralism rather than on the cornerstone of
fundamental shared goals of solidarity, equity, and environmental
This is not a progressive alliance but a right-wing populist alliance
in the tradition of the anti-communist Big Government-Big Capital-Big
Labor alliance during the Cold War, the labor-capital alliance in the
West that produced the Exclusion and Ant-Miscegenation Acts against
Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino workers in the late 19th and early
20th centuries, and, more recently, the populist movement that has
supported the tightening of racist immigration laws by emphasizing
the divide between workers who are citizens and workers who are not,
with the latter being deprived of basic political rights.
It is a policy that will, moreover, feed global instability by
lending support to the efforts of the US right and the Pentagon to
demonize China as The Enemy and resurrect Containment as America's
Grand Strategy, this time with China instead of the Soviet Union as
the foe in a paradigm designed to advance American strategic hegemony.
As in every other instance of unprincipled unity between the right
and some sectors of the progressive movement, progressives will find
that it will be the right that will walk away with the movement while
they will be left with not even their principles.
It is time to move away from this terribly misguided effort to derail
the progressive movement by demonizing China, and to bring us all
back to the spirit of Seattle as a movement of citizens of the world
against corporate-led globalization and for genuine international
* We would like to thank Nicola Bullard, Peter Rosset, and Sal
Glynn for their invaluable advice and assistance.
1. Quoted in John Gershman, "How to Debate the China Issue without China
Bashing," Progressive Response, Vol. 4, No. 17, April 20, 2000.
2. Lester Brown, Who Will Feed China? (New York: Norton, 1995).
3. Anil Agarwal, Sunita Narain, and Anju Sharma, eds., Green Politics
(New Delhi: Center for Science and Environment, 2000), p. 108.
4. Ibid., p. 16.
5. FAO and IMPACT data cited in Simeon Ehui, "Trade and Food Systems in
the Developing World," Presentation at Salzburg Seminar, Salzburg,
Austria, May 11, 2000.
6. Amnesty International, Unted States of America: Rights for All
(London: amnesty International Publications, 1998).
7. Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Farrar,
Straus Giroux, 1999), p. 50.
8. Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American
Empire (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2000), p. 50.
9 John Gray, False Dawn (New York: New Press, 1998), pp. 189-190.
10. J. William Fulbright, quoted in Walter McDougall, Promised Land,
Crusader State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), p. 206.
11. See Anuradha Mittal and Peter Rosset, "The Real Enemy is the WTO,
not China," Peaceworks, March 1, 2000; and Jim Smith, "The China
Syndrome--or, How to Hijack a Movement," LA Labor News, Aprl 2, 2000.
12. For the state of the labor movement in these societies in the period
of rapid growth, see Walden Bello and Stephanie Rosenfeld, Dragons in
Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis (San Francisco: Institute
for Food and Development Policy, 1990).
13. For more on managed trade, see, among others, Johnson, p. 174.
14. Report of the US Congressional International Financial Institution
Advisory Commission (Washington: DC, US Congress, Feb. 2000).
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