Chinese ‘expansionism’

Chinese “expansionism”

200 years ago, the Chinese Empire was rather larger than the present Peoples Republic of China, and large parts of the present United States of America belonged either to Indians or to Mexicans.

All through the 1930s and 1940s, the USA was hoping to Christianise and Americanise China through their Chinese Nationalist allies. But amazingly enough, the Chinese showed a preference for remaining Chinese. The success of Mao’s guerrillas was as much due to their status as hard-line nationalists as any sort of social revolt.

Faced with a spreading Communist- Nationalist synthesis in East Asia, America found it wise to be much more modest in its demands on the remaining non-Communist Nationalists. They also did not give up on the remnants of their China policy. They used their UN veto to keep up the absurd pretence that the tiny island of Taiwan was the real China, with the actual government in Peking not acknowledged. ‘Ibis was dropped only when Nixon decided that America needed China as an ally against a USSR that seemed to be strong and expansionist.

With the fall of the USSR, the USA had a bout of rather inept Machiavellianism, trying to discard allies who were “surplus to requirements”. The End of History having occurred in 1989, there was no need to plan for a stable future. Only things did not quite work out. Rumania went easily enough, but the whole power of the USA has not yet been able to finish off Saddam Hussein. China is also now unwanted, yet far too strong to tackle. They are merely pointlessly annoyed by loose talk that China was next on the list for a “velvet revolution”.

If there were a New World Order worthy of the name, a large self-governing nation like Taiwan would be free to decide its own destiny. But the USA has made sure (hat International Law can never be applied against the USA. And it therefore has no credibility with anyone else. Who can blame the Chinese continuing to play power politics in a blatantly unjust world?


From Newsnotes, April 1996, in Issue 53 of Labour and Trade Union Review, now Labour Affairs.  You can find more from the era at and