/ 24 August 2022

SA must condemn US provocation of China and Russia

000 32gy8zz

The fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in a unique historical moment, which had major repercussions for the developing world. The bipolar world order, where power emanated from both Moscow and Washington, was to be replaced by a moment of unipolarity, where power resided in one dominant entity – the United States and its alliance partners.

This was a Rubicon moment for the US. It could push for the implementation of its values around the world, with no real challenge. Any country that needed financial assistance could get it from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But it came with conditions. Simply put, if you wanted help, they would give it, as long as you adopted their values. 

This was imperialism in a new form. 

But how does this relate to Ukraine?

It goes back to the US’s “unipolar moment”. There has always been an understanding that it would not last forever. It knew Russia would eventually rebuild, and there was an awareness of the threat that China could pose if it overcame its own internal challenges.

As such, the US has worked fastidiously to remake the world in its image. It has over the years been pushing for Nato to expand eastward, to include Eastern European nations. This is how the US State Department classifies its relations with Ukraine: The United States attaches great importance to the success of Ukraine’s transition to a modern democratic state with a flourishing market economy. US policy is centred on realising and strengthening a democratic, prosperous, and secure Ukraine more closely integrated into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures.

This very clearly showcases that there is a concerted effort to isolate Russia from its former allies, by ensuring that Western values take root in Ukraine and other Eastern European nations.

Its efforts came to fruition in April 2008 at the Nato Summit in Bucharest, when Nato issued a statement indicating that Ukraine and Georgia would become part of Nato. Russia unequivocally viewed it as an existential threat. 

The reason for this view is based on Nato’s raison d’ȇtre: “Nato’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.”

Simply put, its military cooperation, which exists to protect the interests of its members, that is the US and its allies. Therefore, it is only logical that Russia would view Georgia and Ukraine being part of Nato as an existential threat. History has shown us that when there was a close relationship between Russia and Cuba, the US saw that as an existential threat.

According to John Mearsheimer, a leading political scientist in the US, “the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility” with regard to Russia annexing Crimea in 2014. It is his view that had the US not pushed so hard for Ukraine’s inclusion in Nato, and had Ukraine adopted a liberal democracy without the US’s strategy to make it a beachhead of the West, there would be no war in Ukraine.

The US has the exact same strategy with regards to China. There is fear of China’s rising dominance, and the fact that the US can no longer utilise the strategy of the Washington Consensus to force the implementation of its values through “aid with conditions”. This is causing the US to treat China with the same level of hostility as Russia. This is largely because China’s financial aid, trade and investment does not have structural reform conditions.

But this hostility has not always been obvious. Through institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US has attempted to institute regime change across the world, and in China specifically via Hong Kong and Taiwan.

If you look at the protests that took place in Hong Kong and you follow the money it is evident that the NED funded the protesting groups. Some might argue that that is not the US government. However, according to the founder of the NED, Allen Weinstein, they are like a second CIA: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

The same thing is happening in Taiwan, with the NED openly supporting the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. This position stands in sharp contrast to the US state department’s so-called support for the One-China Policy.

What is evident is that at face value, the official policy of the US has not changed, but via the NED and other institutions they are pushing a covert agenda to establish a western beachhead in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, similar to that of Ukraine.

The recent visit by US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, therefore, can not be seen in isolation. It is the first step in the process of normalising relations with Taiwan, as an independent state, separate from China. It also served as a litmus test to evaluate China’s response. 

Unlike the Trump administration, whose strategy was brasher and less covert with regard to China, it is easy to assume that the Biden administration does not have a clear strategy with regard to China. Pelosi’s visit was part of that strategy. The NED’s presence in Taiwan and Hong Kong is part of that strategy. 

We need to condemn this in its entirety. The South African government needs to be clear that it will not serve as a “proxy” for the United States in its attempts to solidify its hegemony. 

Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam is the leader of the National Freedom Party in the National Assembly.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.