The US-China Relationship in the 21st Century and the Spectres of 1776 (1)


© Terry Boardman

This essay  – the first of a pair on the subject – was first published in New View magazine Winter (1st Quarter -  2006/2007)


The world’s future in the first half of the 21st century will be profoundly affected by the relationship of the Atlantean giants, China [1] and America.


We can all surely recognise that human beings do not always act in their own best interests; they do not always act rationally. An international bestseller in 1909 was ” Europe’s Optical Illusion”[2]. Using the very latest techniques of economic analysis, its author, British journalist Norman Angell, argued that the economies of modern nations such as Britain and Germany were so inter-connected that war between such countries would be futile; both parties would lose out too much. Five short years later, the political leaders of those two countries contradicted him and opted for war nevertheless; the mutual economic interests of  Britain and Germany did not prevent war in 1914. The Norman Angells of today and many other media pundits claim that the US and Chinese economies  are so interdependent already that a war between China and the US would be economic suicide: the USA needs Chinese savings (to purchase US government debt, thus helping the US to run its military machine) while the Chinese need US consumers to purchase Chinese products and keep China’s ‘miraculous’ march to national prosperity going.

The scaremongers….

And yet, just as Anglo-American elites and their media instruments[3] were identifying Germany as Britain’s enemy for the coming 20th century already more than 10 years before the outbreak of war in 1914, so a century on, American think tanks and their media instruments have already identified China as the main enemy for the 21st century  – ‘The War on Islamist Terror’ and Sino-U.S. economic interdependency notwithstanding – and are considering the options for war. Some examples: Samuel Huntington, originator of the infamous ‘Clash of Civilisations’ thesis (1996)[4] discussed the Chinese challenge in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the hugely influential foreign policy think-tank Council on Foreign Affairs, in an article entitled The Erosion of American National Interest  (Foreign Affairs 76 (1997). Also in Foreign Affairs in 1997 (the year Hong Kong was returned from British rule to China), Richard Bernstein and Ross Munro wrote  The Coming Conflict with America : China will be the United States ’ next major adversary (Foreign Affairs 76:2 March/April 1997). Huntington’s friend and former long-term foreign editor of The Economist, Brian Beedham, discussed a possible Chinese threat in The Atlantic Community in 2012: Three Scenarios (May 1-3, 1998) for the right-wing American Enterprise Institute[5]. In August 2001 Charles R. Smith wrote the scaremongering War with China for the even  more right-wing, whose chairman then was William Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times. That year saw the opening shots in a cyberwar between American and Chinese computer nerds and hackers following the killing of a Chinese pilot by the Americans. In March 2003 CNN Senior China Analyst Willy Wo-Lap Lam wrote in his article China readies for future U.S. fight: “The Iraqi war has convinced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership that some form of confrontation with the U.S. could come earlier than expected”. In July 2004 Chalmers Johnson observed in the Los Angeles Times that : “Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse ’04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan. This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our 12 carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings”[6]. China responded in August 2005 with “Peace Mission 2005″ – a massive and unprecedented series of joint military manoeuvres with the Russian military under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of which both are members, but the USA is not.[7]

 Two months earlier, the Washington Times, a newspaper owned by the Korean Unification Church (its leader is Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a close friend of the Bush family) claimed that ‘a senior defence official’ said that : “We may be seeing in China the first true fascist society on the model of Nazi Germany, where you have this incredible resource base in a commercial economy with strong nationalism, which the military was able to reach into and ramp up incredible production.” Richard Fisher , vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Centre, was quoted as saying: “Let’s all wake up. The post-Cold War peace is over. We are now in an arms race with a new superpower whose goal is to contain and overtake the United States.” In the latest of such rattling of 21st century sabres, the neo-conservative Robert D. Kaplan went into military details in  How We Would Fight China[8] (Atlantic Monthly, June 2005) claiming that “the Middle East is just a blip. The American military contest with China in the Pacific will define the twenty-first century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was”. All this warmongering was exactly the kind of thing the British media were awash with a century ago in regard to Germany.

 …and their opponents

Just as the major media scaremongers in 1906 were opposed by antiwar,  progressive and socialist media writers, albeit fewer in number, so today the  hawkish media are critiqued by their opponents, who, while they are many more in number than their Edwardian forebears, still do not enjoy mass exposure.  In China vs. Globalization -  the Final War and the Dark Millennium, Richard K. Moore   (New Dawn magazine 8 June 1997) saw parallels not so much with the pre-World War One scenario as with the interwar years when he wrote:   

What, in fact, America…seems to be doing with China is to consciously replay the interwar scenario: profit maximally from trade and investments in China, encourage US public opinion to maintain a simmering hostility toward what may become a future enemy, tacitly facilitate China’s military development, closely monitor developments – and most important – be sure that the US, together with its projected allies, maintains strategic dominance militarily.

Opposed to the scaremongers are the traditional socialist and marxist arguments of such as Ted Grant and Alan Woods, writing for (China, America and the Pacific). They argue, like Norman Angell in 1909, that mutual economic interests will work against the danger of war:

For the big US monopolies, the prospect of developing the China market presents an alluring perspective of profits. They represent the China lobby in Washington, which is anxious to prevent a deterioration of US-China relations which would endanger their interests. For its part, China wants to develop its economy and technology as quickly as possible. This is a matter of life or death for a country that needs to achieve a rate of growth of at least eight percent each year to prevent the growth of unemployment. Therefore, neither Washington nor Beijing wishes to bring matters to an open break. At every step, China ‘s vital interests in Asia clash with those of the United States . The contradictions have been manifested in a series of incidents that have hampered the establishment of normal relations between the two countries. …But given the balance of forces, they will not lead to open war between China and the USA. In such an eventuality, the USA could not defeat China, and China could not defeat the USA. Therefore, each crisis will end in a compromise.

Indeed, the United States national debt is currently around $8.6 trillion, about $850 billion of which (approx. 10%) is owed to China.  China’s economy has been growing at a phenomenal rate since the end of the Cold War when western, Japanese and overseas Chinese investors began piling in their millions. China’s GDP is estimated to ‘decline’ from 10.5% in 2006 to 9.6% in 2007 and 9.3% in 2008.[9] Needless to say, these are enormous figures, and ought to send shivers down all our backs, because the USA with 4% of global population consumes 25% of resources, and continues to do so. If China, with 25% of the world’s population, is striving for a lifestyle even a quarter as affluent as that of the USA, then the outlook for the global environment is bleak indeed. And yet, despite the fact that western corporations and banks have been shovelling money into the Chinese economy these past 20 years, their allies in the western mass media only seem to have woken up to the danger to the global environment posed by such phenomenal economic growth in China – not to mention India and Brazil! – in the last two or three years.

The struggle for energy supplies

Inevitably bound up with the eco-crises (ecological and economical) is the issue of nuclear power as a putative solution that will enable a consumption-addicted culture to have ‘clean energy’ while continuing with steady economic growth.  “‘We will certainly build more than one [nuclear] reactor per year,’ said Zhou Dadi, director of the [Chinese] government’s Energy Research Institute, which has strongly supported the country’s nuclear program. By 2010, planners predict a quadrupling of nuclear output to 16 billion kilowatt-hours and a doubling of that figure by 2015. And with commercial nuclear energy programs dead or stagnant in the United States and most of Europe, Western and other developers of nuclear plant technology are lining up to sell reactors and other equipment to the Chinese, whose purchasing decisions alone will determine in many instances who survives in the business.” [10]

A very insightful essay bringing together energy and geopolitical issues in the Sino-US relationship is The United States vs China: the war for oil   by Paul Rogers[11], who argues that the “United States’s focus on the middle east, al-Qaida and terrorism is…a surrogate for long-term strategic competition with China for the world’s oil resources.” Commentators noted that President Hu Jintao’s focus in his recent globetrotting trip (April 2006) that took in the USA , the Middle East and Africa was actually….energy supplies. In Latin America and Africa the Chinese have developed a soft and subtle strategy of outflanking their rival the USA in a move redolent of the traditional Chinese game of Go. Instead of focusing overwhelming force by military might (a chess-like tactic) on a specific location such as Iraq, they are ‘surrounding’ and mopping up ‘energy spaces’ around the globe through aid, assistance and attractive deals, effectively denying space to the Americans – all this despite the fact that American think-tanks and business circles have for years now been aware of Chinese tactics based on the game of Go and China’s great book of strategy The Art of War by classical writer Sun Tzu. Most notably, the Chinese have pulled off a huge oil and gas deal with Iran involving a 30 year contract worth $70 billion. This oil will have to come to central and northern China via the Taiwan Strait and will further tempt China to expand its already sizeable navy to defend its oil ‘lifelines’. Observers noted that the Sino-Russian joint manoeuvres of 2004 included an amphibious invasion of the Shandong Peninsula, midway between Korea and Taiwan.

 The Canadian Defence Associations Institute believes it sees something sinister in all this:

 …  China is preparing to challenge the United States and its allies, Asian or otherwise, for mastery of Asia-Pacific. … China has expanded its national security objectives; China has changed its patterns in the use of military force; China is developing a modern war machine and sea control capability and; China is attempting to build an anti-American and anti-West alliance. There can only be one reason for these activities. These are not moves directed at local opponents or guided by the principles of self-defence. This is a move aimed at the world’s sole remaining superpower, the United States. American superpowership rests on the fact that it is master of the North and South American continent, the oceans that surround that land mass, and a forward presence in strategically important regions of the world such as, Western Europe, the Persian Gulf, and Asia. If China and the PLA can marginalize the United States in Asia , then they can challenge the United States’ mantle as the world’s only superpower.[12]

As was the case a century ago, there are groups in the West today who have a particular vision or model of the coming century and seek to bring that about[13], and  these groups often see parallels in the geopolitics of the Edwardian  era, the era when geopolitics was effectively ‘invented’.[14]

“Major shifts of power between states, not to mention regions, occur infrequently and are rarely peaceful. In the early twentieth century, the imperial order and the aspiring states of Germany and Japan failed to adjust to each other. The conflict that resulted devastated large parts of the globe. Today, the transformation of the international system will be even bigger and will require the assimilation of markedly different political and cultural traditions. This time, the populous states of Asia are the aspirants seeking to play a greater role. Like Japan and Germany back then, these rising powers are nationalistic, seek redress of past grievances, and want to claim their place in the sun. Asia’s growing economic power is translating into greater political and military power, thus increasing the potential damage of conflicts.”[15]

Envisioning the future

Then there are those biblical fundamentalists who see parallels even further back, such as American tele-evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong[16] who proclaimed, “The prophecies show that the ‘men of the east’ will be drawn into a gigantic conflict in the Middle East – in modern-day Israel!”  Invariably, such views are based on literalist interpretations of the prophecies of Daniel, notably Daniel 11: 40-44, which speaks of a Beast power descending into the Middle East with mighty armies and conquering many nations: “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.” (Dan. 11:44). Interestingly, the British Israel movement, which claimed that the English-speaking peoples were now the ‘chosen people’ of God’s Covenant and not the modern Jews, emerged in the same decade, the 1840s,  as The Economist magazine, that very secular champion these days of ‘Anglo-saxon values’.  Since the early 1990s, The Economist has been insinuating into the public mind a geopolitical scenario not a million miles removed from that of Garner Ted Armstrong. For example, in its New year double issue 1992-3 The Economist outlined a future scenario in which China would reunify with Taiwan in 2007, creating a gigantic  authoritarian market economy. In 2009 China would bully Japan into vassal-dependence in the “China-Japan Cooperation Sphere”. A key year in this Armageddon-like scenario was said to be 2011, when the Saudi monarchy would be overthrown in a colonel’s coup that would lead to the establishment of an Islamist superstate, which the article calls ‘Islamistan’. This just happens to be  – returning now to the present situation – only a year before countless people around the globe today (2006), influenced by New Age-oriented ideas and half-comprehended information about the ancient Mayan Calendar, are in fact expecting a major global event that will affect the whole Earth, whether it be an ecological catastrophe due to a magnetic pole shift – perhaps the end of the world or at least of civilisation as we know it or, less apocalyptically, the completion of an historical epoch that will presage a gentler shift in global consciousness and usher in ‘a rise to a higher dimension of harmony and understanding’. In other words, people are being directed in countless ways to ‘expect that something enormous will happen’ around 2012. The Economist article also imagined that eventually China would ally with this new superpower of Islamistan  – in a massive attack on the “decaying corpse” of Russia. In this terrible war, Russia would lose all of Siberia and its borders would be pushed back to the Urals (2011-2050); Turkey and the Balkans would also be lost to ‘Islamistan’.

This was before Samuel Huntington’s  book The Clash of Civilisations was at all widely known and well before the western public were aware of Osama Bin Laden or the American neo-conservatives.[17] In The Economist’s scenario, Russia would become a purely ‘European’ state in geographical terms, as she was in the 16th century before the expansions of Ivan the Terrible. This chimed in with the ideas of Halford Mackinder (left, 1861-1947), the well-connected British geographer who developed the theory of geopolitics, and argued in 1904 that  as long as Russia retains Siberia and all her lands east of the Urals, she dominates ‘the heartland’ of Eurasia. The goal was then how to prevent this. But as long as Russia does control this vast territory, she forms a bridge  – a bridge with a nominally Christian culture – between the cultures of Europe and those of central and eastern Asia. Russia is therefore the middle element in what Mackinder called the  ‘ World Island ‘ of Eurasia, just as the germanic region is the middle element within Europe itself. Due to their long experience of dealing with the Asiatic peoples – far longer than that of the British – the Russians are suited to play that bridging role, that ‘brotherly’ role within Eurasia, which is exactly why we can expect that forces in both West and East – in America and in China – will be interested to see that role erased. China will be interested to gain access to and even control over Russian natural resources to support the ever-growing conspicuous consumption of its vast population – as long as that population’s mind is fed by western concepts of economic development – while the USA will want to see Russia as part of a Europe that is firmly allied to American interests. Eurasia will thus be endangered by a new bipolarity, a new East-West split between Euro-America in the West and China and its allies in the East. Is this what we want for the 21st century world of our children and grandchildren?

China’s challenge

It would be a world of a titanic struggle between on the one hand, the so-called ‘New Atlantis’, as James I’s Chancellor Francis Bacon (1561-1626) intended the British North American colonies to become : a society ruled over by an oligarchical elite of scientist-philosophers, that would today comprise academics, businesspeople, and lawyers, devoted to materialism and utility. On the other hand would be the culture of ‘Old Atlantis’  – a society ruled over by an oligarchy of priest-politicians who guard the ancient Wall protecting ethnic Chinese consciousness, believing deep down that their culture is not the World Itself but the centre, the Hub of the World, around which all other peoples must orbit and to which they must ultimately pay tribute for maintaining cosmic order. Both of these ‘Atlantean societies’ would operate  similar economic systems (drawn from the same self-serving 18th century basic axioms of economist Adam Smith) but in differing ways: the Americans in such a way that would lead their system to be choked by individual greed and by abstract laws, contracts and regulations, and the Chinese in a way that would lead their system over time to be choked by the greed of families and of nepotism and corruption. The USA will seek to subsume Latin America, Europe, Russia and Australasia into its own sphere; China will seek to subsume all of East Asia (and perhaps Russian Siberia) into its own sphere. Africa, the Muslim world and India will be the testing grounds for the two titans. These developments are already clearly underway, as we see, for example,  in East Africa. Humanity and the Earth Mother herself will be caught between these two titans unless history does one of its remarkable and by no means unusual rabbit-out-of-the-hat tricks.

In this article I have considered various doom-laden scenarios, but consider the following ‘green’ perspective:

“As China, with its much larger population, attempts to replicate the consumer economy pioneered in the United States , it becomes clear that the U.S. model is not environmentally sustainable. Ironically, it may be China that finally forces the United States to come to terms with the environmental unsustainability of its own economic system…The bottom line is that China, with its vast population, simply will not be able to follow for long any of the development paths blazed to date. It will be forced to chart a new course. The country that invented paper and gunpowder now has the opportunity to leapfrog the West and show how to build an environmentally sustainable economy. If it does, China could become a shining example for the rest of the world to admire and emulate. If it fails, we will all pay the price.”[18]
That was written in 1996. Unlike the mainstream media, the Green movement was already awake to the potential dangers and challenges of Chinese economic growth already in the mid 1990s. Yet a careful consideration of what is written there may reveal both a real intuition and a failure of imagination. American capitalists have wanted to profit from the vast Chinese market ever since the Boston opium traders broke into Britain’s monopoly in the early 1800s[19], and their successors have indeed profited handsomely from the investments with which they have helped stimulate China’s pell-mell growth in the 1990s, but the irony is that China may indeed  – despite itself – show the world that the capitalist system as we have known it for the last 100 years cannot continue; China will force us to re-evaluate the relation between morality and economic order. Thus far, the Green argument above makes sense, but then it then suddenly stops doing so. This is because like the current Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, it promptly assumes that the West, which has been creating this economic and ecological mess at home and abroad for some 200 years now, can expect China, a country with a mere 20 years or so of modern capitalist development, to get us out of the mess.  Ken Livingstone said on a visit to Shanghai in April 2006 (see photo below, Livingstone in centre):  “global warming was created in the West, but it is increasingly to the East to which we look for a solution.” Ken Livingstone, Think London representative in Beijing Victor Hu & Michael Charlton in Shanghai Commenting on the same dramatic plans to build an ‘eco-city’ at Dongtan, near Shanghai, The Guardian  bubbled that Dongtan was “the biggest single development anywhere in the world, bigger even than the Beijing Olympics” and went on:  

“If it all comes together, the Dongtan project will show that the heirs of chairman Mao can produce a genuine synthesis of economic development, environmental responsibility and financial profitability….Dongtan will be the turning point in China’s frenetic urban growth, incorporating all the economic, social and environmental principles, to reduce the impact on nature and provide a model for future development across China and East Asia… The Dongtan project has a long way to go, but the meeting of Marxism and        mammon on the mudflats of the Yangtse could yet be  the start of a global eco-revolution.

This is the kind of paradoxical scenario some media people really enjoy, especially if it involves alliteration: the meeting of Marxism and Mammon on mudflats  mmm…..

But Ken could be seen as being disingenuous, because in fact it is the Chinese who are looking West for a solution, not the other way round, which is why the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) have engaged Arup Associates, the British-based engineering consultancy founded by Danish ‘total’ architect, Ove Arup, to design ‘the world’s first sustainable city’. The mammoth project is the brainchild of the firm’s director Peter head, who has also been helping the Chinese with work for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Says Head: ‘An industrial revolution, on the scale we saw in Britain 200 years ago, is not sustainable in China, and the Chinese realise it. They can see the socio-economic problems that follow huge economic growth rates, and realise they have to overcome them’. Only one problem with that: the socio-economic and ecological problems have already arrived in China on a massive scale that is as bad as, if not worse than, anything seen in Britain during the Industrial Revolution with the possible exception of British child labour in the mines. The Chinese oligarchy do realise the problem and they also realise that China cannot solve it with the resources of its own people; it has had to turn to westerners to help get it out of the mess that the western capitalists and industrialists created in the first place, and that is not to mention the 50 years of materialist communism which the Chinese also learned from ‘the West’.

The spirits and spectres of 1776

This brings us back then to the problem of the West. China ‘s contribution is that it mirrors this problem to the world on such a suitably colossal scale that the problem can no longer be ignored. Capitalism was thought to have defeated communism in 1989-91, and the Russian Marxists may indeed have capitulated, but the   typically ironic trick played by Clio, the Greek muse of history, is that the Communists have ultimately triumphed in a way because Marxist China is showing us that the economic values of conspicuous consumption  – leading to a private-greed-is-goodness doctrine, which the likes of  Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan have trumpeted, must lead to a dead end: “the United States [will be forced] to come to terms with the environmental unsustainability of its own economic system”. Until the Chinese giant woke up from her ‘napoleonic’[20] slumber, the western world managed to avoid this conclusion. This is no longer possible. We failed in the West these last 200 years – and especially since the end of the First World War -  to realise this by ourselves; so now we are having to be forced to realise it by the sacrifices of the Chinese people. However, sustainably efficient token eco-cities like Dongtan will not solve the problems created by our western economic system until the fundamental thinking behind that system is addressed – by the West itself.

Rudolf Steiner ‘s doctoral thesis, published as Truth and Science (1892) begins with the words: “Present-day philosophy suffers from an unhealthy faith in Kant “. This points us back to the late 18th century, and today, it could indeed be said that “present day society suffers from an unhealthy faith in the spirit of 1776″. That year saw not only the American Declaration of Independence, which Kant welcomed, but also a number of events that have since been linked with the USA and its values.  

Edward Gibbon (left) published the first volume of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in that year, and it both reflected and further stimulated a yearning for all things Roman , especially among the upper classes. First the British and then latterly the US elites have  tended to regard themselves as masters of a new Roman Empire, destined to bring order and prosperity to the world; as with Rome, however, the rest of the world tend to take a different view. The debate about the New World Order and globalisation is intertwined with the image of Rome and the idea that a dominant superpower can bring order, peace and prosperity (not to mention freedom and democracy) if everyone will only accept its values. At the root of American confidence is the notion that America is the world’s future; that America is in fact the world. The Americans still today glory in the values and icons of their Revolutionary era and refer to them often, at home and abroad. The leaders of the young United States in that era self-consciously saw their state as the beginning of a Novus Ordo Seclorum[21] (New Order of the Ages) because Roman was the fashionable style in the late 18th century.[22] Rome also featured in another event of 1776: the establishment on 1st May that year in staunchly Catholic Bavaria of the secret Order of the Illuminati. Their founder, Adam Weishaupt (right),  had been trained by the Jesuits, whom he later rejected. The Order was led by a secretive elite which sought to overthrow all established order and became something of a model for many subsequent 19th century revolutionary groups. It sparked off the concerns about dangerous conspiratorial groups that gave rise to the phenomenon of conspiracy theory, the most fertile soil for which is still found in ….the USA. All the Illuminati leaders had codenames, many Roman in origin; Weishaupt’s was Spartacus.

Also in 1776, a highly revolutionary book was published, The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith (left) , which has arguably had far greater influence than        Weishaupt’s Illuminati. The concepts of free market economics advocated by Smith’s book has dominated western economic thinking ever since with its assertion that economic life needs to be based realistically on human selfishness and the idea that if we all seek profit for ourselves, then society will eventually become rich. The economic life was thus to be informed by a spirit of personal liberty, unhampered by external forces such as the state. Smith’s free market capitalism led to great wealth for some but also to appalling social inequities and environmental destruction and also to inevitable opposition and resistance that eventually took the form of socialism and communism. In 1793 Britain ‘s will to economic power took the first British trade mission to China under Lord Macartney. It met with a humiliating rebuff; the Chinese declared they did not need Britain’s business. The British tried again (1816) as soon as the wars with Napoleon were over; by this time they had realised the enormous    profitability of the opium trade. Again they were sent packing. The third time they returned with   steam-driven warships, and the First Opium War (1839-42) began, as Britain chose to force its ideas of ‘free trade’ and ‘modern civilisation’ on the Chinese.

The end of the Cold War in 1989-91 also signified the end of an era that had begun in the late 18th century with the growth of the Industrial Revolution, the publication of the works of the leading philosopher of the free market[23], the foundation of the ideological crusading state that would later do most to realise his ideas, and the establishment of the revolutionary group that would be a model for violent revolutionaries who wished to fight those ideas and their consequences. Mao Ze Dong was one such revolutionary. A direct line connects the western thinking of 1776 with current Chinese business practice, the degradation of China’s environment, and the potential ecological catastrophe threatened by China’s frenetic adoption of western ‘economic liberty’. Until those spirits of 1776 and the late 18th century – Smith, Gibbon, Weishaupt and American pretensions to being the world utopia  – are laid to rest, then the West’s Frankenstein monster, which consists essentially of habits of economic thought dressed up in the vestments of ‘freedom and democracy’, will go on devouring us all, human beings, animals, plants, minerals. The ideas that burst forth in Britain and America in the 1770s were the result of three centuries of European development that had begun with the growing self-assertion of the individual in the early 15th century. We are now in a different era with different needs, and the ideas of the 1770s will no longer suffice.

So much for the mighty and troubling storm that may be gathering in Sino-American relations. I have considered it mainly from western perspectives because they are  the ones  for which we in the West are primarily responsible and can hope to do something about. Based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, the second part of this article will present some ideas about the deeper aspects of the relationship between the two cultures. Are they doomed to clash or can the rest of us help the two titans to cooperate?


[1] The name ‘ China ‘ comes from  ‘Sina’, the  Roman pronunciation of the name of the state of Qin (chin) that unified and ruled China 221-206 BC. The earliest word used by the Chinese to refer to themselves is hua, which means ‘flowery’ and comes from the Yellow River valley region. The modern Chinese word for their country zhongguo means ‘middle country’ or ‘middle countries’ (there is no distinction between singular and plural nouns in Chinese). This signified their notion of themselves as civilised states surrounded by barbarians.

[2] Published as “The Great Illusion” in the USA (1910), From 1902-1912 Angell was the Paris editor of The Daily Mail

[3] By this is meant media organs such as The Daily Mail for the masses and  The Times, The National Review, The Nineteenth Century and Saturday Reveiw for the elite.

[4] In that book he already introduced the comparison of China with Wilhelmine Germany before World War 1 and in terms of schoolboy playground behaviour, postulated a major remilitarisation of Japan to assist American containment of  China . (see ch. 9)


[6]  Sailing Toward a Storm in China : U.S. Maneuvers Could Spark a War

[7] The SCO consists of China and Russia plus the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Tajikstan, Turkmenstan and Uzbekstan. “At the last summit meeting of the SCO, the two countries urged their Central Asian partners to get rid of American bases on their soil.”

[8] Atlantic Monthly June 2005, Volume 295, No. 5; 49-64 .


[9] The Chinese government  expects the economy  to grow at an annual rate of 8 per cent during the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

[10]  China Promotes Another Boom: Nuclear Power  New York Times, 15.1.2005


[12] Second Annual Graduate Student Symposium   12-13 November 1999

[13] Such western cliques c.1902-1914 were The Coefficients, The Pilgrims, The Round Table Group a.k.a. the Milner kindergarten, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Committee for Imperial Defence

[14] Notably by Harold S. Mackinder (1861-1947) in his 1904  paper The Geographical Pivot of History before the Royal Geographical Society. Mackinder himself did not use the term ‘geopolitics’ but his paper  is generally regarded as the beginning of geopolitics. He put forward ‘the  Heartland Theory’ which was summed up by the motto: ‘Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland [from the Volga to the Yangtse]; who rules the Heartland commands the world-island [Eurasia]; who rules the world-island controls the world’  – a view still espoused by Anglo-American cliques to the present day cf. Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard  – American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997) (Basic Books paperback, 1997 p.38. Brzezinski ‘s entire book could be said to be based on Mackinder ‘s motto.

[15] Foreign editorial by James Hoge , Jr., A Global Power Shift in the Making

[16] Garner Ted Armstrong (1930-2003), son of   Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), who founded the Worldwide Church of God and Plain Truth magazine and subscribed to a British Israelite view of world affairs.

[17] The scenario did, however, follow on naturally from The Economist’s pre-Huntington vision of  a new ‘culturally delineated ‘ world order in the 21st century that would follow the era of the Cold War (1-9 Sept, 1990; article: A New Flag: Defence and the Democracies)


[19] From the 1830s onwards, many of these East Coast opium traders were connected to the Yale University secret society Skull and Bones, to which both Presidents Bush and John Kerry belong. See, for example R.A.Kris Mullegan, The Boodle Boys (

[20] Napoleon is supposed to have said: “Let  China sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.”

[21] This Latin motto was inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782

[22] Both mottoes on the Great Seal of the United States are taken from the Roman poet Virgil (1st cent. BC) Novus Ordo Seclorum (from Eclogue IV) refers to the Sibyl who prophesies the happy fate of the Roman republic,  and Annuit Coeptis . (from The Georgics). The conventional translation of  Annuit Coeptis  is ‘ Providence favours (our) undertakings’, but a  more accurate translation is ‘he favours (our) undertakings’, because the poem was referring to Julius Caesar. A similar phrase occurs in Book IX, line 625 of Virgil ‘s Aeneid, which refers to the foundation of Rome. Both phrase were selected by  Charles Thomson in 1782; Virgil was a favourite poet of his.

[23] Strictly speaking, it is not correct to describe Adam Smith as a philosopher of ‘industrialism’; his main concerns were the economics of commerce and trade. Nevertheless, it was in the 19th cent. age of industrialism that his free trade ideas were most energetically taken up and promoted by the British. Britain ‘s global hegemony was based on  industrialism and the doctrine of free trade.

© Terry Boardman

This page was first uploaded on 3rd Jan. 2007. Last updated 2.7.2012