Updated: Nov 16
On this page, I will make a political comment concerning climate change.
I will confess that I am sick and tired of the China-bashing that is going on at the moment, ranging from pollution through human rights to bellicosity. Much of it is wildly inaccurate and represents overt racism and deliberate misinformation.
Just recently, I heard an American comment that China was constantly at war; this is utter nonsense. In fact, since 1979, China has only been involved in one war, that in Mali, as part of the UN-mandated stabilisation force. The trouble is that some people believe statements made in social fake news and go around repeating them until they are accepted as fact. In the interest of balancing the matter, in the same period, the USA has been involved in conflicts in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq (twice), Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Congo, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Syria, many of which have ended in miserable outcomes for all.
At the start of this year, the US pumped up a story about a Chinese balloon spying on Alaska, western Canada, and then the contiguous states from Idaho to South Carolina. What you did not hear is that:
· the device did not send information back to China,
· the USA did not believe the Chinese government was aware of it,
· the USA was not its intended target,
· prevailing winds had blown it off course,
· it was no surprise to any US official because it was tracked since its launch in Hainan, China.
In other words, it was US government-hyped propaganda – official fake news, if you like. Why would they do that? Why would they air primetime video footage of the balloon being shot down to mass audiences when it was entirely harmless? Why did they not announce, loud and clear, that subsequently, the three other high-altitude objects spotted over Northern Alaska, the Yukon, and Lake Huron in February 2023 had absolutely nothing to do with China? When all four incidents were proven not to be acts of aggression by the People's Republic, why was this not stated openly? Quite interestingly, admitting they had tracked the object since launch indicates that the USA spies on China far more than China spies on the USA!
The US government has not backed down from its initial position because words can hit home harder than sticks and stones; this is something that the US government is keenly aware of and applies in shovelfuls to its rhetoric on China.
I have been into the bunkers that the Chinese constructed to shelter their population from expected US bombings in the Sixties. I have visited the collective homes (tulous) that US spy planes identified as missile launchers, where the US government sent in spies to check out the supposed nuclear silos. This aggression came about because the US did not countenance China's support for the Viet Cong and for North Korea, both neighbouring countries to China but many, many miles from the USA, who never considered that China might have been onto something. Perhaps the Korean peninsula would not be quite such a mess today if China had been more involved in finding solutions.
The USA does not want a strong China – Period. Until around 1800 CE, China was the most powerful country on the planet. Admittedly, it was a somewhat hidden or subtle power that was not shouted from the rooftops but was real enough. Like much of East Asia, China was devasted in the nineteenth century, which saw chaos in government, climate crises, mass starvation, rebellions, wars, and, eventually, revolutions. For upwards of half a century, the British took on the mantle of world superpower. They stirred it up even more by insisting they be allowed to sell opium into China, going to war to protect the trade. However, by the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, the writing was on the door for the British; it would take sixty years, but the USA was set to dominate the globe.
March 29th, 1973, and August 9th, 1974, were to the USA what the Great Exhibition was to the UK. On the first of these dates, the last US combat troops left Vietnam, and on the second, Richard Nixon resigned over Watergate. It would take a further sixty years for the world to understand that the American Empire was at an end, but by 2034 CE, it will be, with the thought-provoking fact that the death throes of the Western Roman Empire lasted a similar time to those of both the US and Britain. With Russia flailing away in Ukraine, Europe unable to keep itself in one piece, and the southern hemisphere lacking any coherence, it will be China that again takes up the reins.
I am not going to stand up and defend China's human rights record in Tibet or with the Uyghur. I will say that China's longstanding socio-political beliefs do not align easily with the Western concept of individual human rights. It should be pointed out that since Mao's death, China has brought more people out of poverty than there are people living in North America. The Chinese concept of human rights is more collective than individual; it offers "the greatest good for the greatest number" and has been successful in this regard. Ironically, it is something that has been reflected in US society when we note that, in the USA, white households account for 60% of the population and hold 84% of the wealth. However, black households account for 13.4% of the population and only 4% of household wealth.
Can the Uyghur be compared directly to blacks in the USA?
I'm afraid there is not enough data available, but 1.4% of the US population were black male prison inmates in 2018, and in 2020, close to 1.3% of the Chinese population were imprisoned Uyghurs of both sexes. It's a close-run thing.
I suppose one could argue that US blacks get to vote, but there again, so do the Uyghur. And was it not President Trump who tried in vain to prevent so many "black votes" being allowed or counted? I have not seen Xi Jinping trying to remove voting rights from Uyghur citizens. However, it must be said that a vote in the USA means almost as little as a vote in the People's Republic, which is why the Economist formally describes the US democracy as flawed, the same as they do of the Philippines and Thailand. On an index measuring democracy, compiled by the Economist, the USA came 30th in 2022, just behind Israel, Portugal, and Estonia.
I may not be trying to make a stand on human rights or bellicosity, but I am going to make a stand on pollution.
Back in 2011, I published comments on news articles about China's ability to become greener much faster than Western nations. American scientists had made these forecasts. We are constantly told that China is the most polluting country on Earth, but we could equally say that the Chinese urinate more than anyone else. Indeed, they do because there are more of them! (In fact, at some point this year, India probably took over as having the world's most significant number of urinators.)
Chinese CO2 emissions per head are half the USA's: Look at the tables! Quite simply, this means that citizens of the USA are twice as polluting as Chinese citizens, although the US government does not want you to hear that. I will confess this data is from 2016, but any movement since then is insubstantial, as my check against incomplete 2020 data proved.
Let us take time to get this to sink in. Each US citizen, on average, is twice as polluting, thus twice as dirty, as each Chinese citizen. Dirty Americans!
When I conducted this analysis, I took the top seventeen in the original table (left) solely because it included the UK, my place of birth, which was in seventeenth place. I was pleased that Brits are only a third as dirty as US individuals. In doing so, some other states of interest appeared on the list, such as Mexico and Australia, the former being pretty clean and the latter turning out to be even dirtier than the USA. I then took those "top seventeen" and ranked them according to emissions per head; the results are evident in the second table. Is it not interesting that the top five countries, Canada, Australia, Saudi, USA, and South Korea, are all good mates, and none are in Europe?
The third table shows the really filthy countries, the top seventeen polluters—those churning out the most pollution per head. These countries have the dirtiest individuals in the world, especially Qatar. I must repeat that this is an average; obviously, I know plenty of Canadians who, as individuals, are relatively clean. Nine are Gulf States and/or oil producers. Some are tiny countries, but ominously, Canada, Australia, and the USA all appear on the list.
Dirty, dirty, dirty!
It is about time we started taking our responsibilities seriously instead of name-calling. For the most part, Europe has already done so or has it well in hand. When the USA, Canada and Australia drop below China in CO2 emissions per head, it will be time to allow them to open their collective mouths once more on this subject. In the meantime, they should shut up and be embarrassed.
In a recent article, The Guardian states, "China's carbon emissions could peak this year before falling into a structural decline for the first time from next year after a record surge in clean energy investments…". It would be nice to see this type of news coming out of all the countries listed in Table 3 or, in fact, any country. It is not going to happen.
China and Europe can do it, but the dinosaur economies in North America and the Gulf will never manage without economic collapse. I forecast that China's emissions will soon reduce faster than almost any country on Earth. Ironically, it can only do this because it does not support individual human rights, which is evidenced by the fact their general public's access to firearms is subject to some of the strictest control measures in the world. Hey! They get a lot right, don't they?
China will not be the bogeyman unless the USA forces it into a corner.
It is time to abandon ideological posturing. The world requires realpolitik to avoid climate disaster, and very often, that will not leave room for a democratic voice. The USA should leave China alone unless it wants to provoke a reaction, but, there again, one has to suspect that the USA has realised the writing is on the wall and is spoiling for a fight.
Death throes are one thing; death throes that see the dying lash out are another. It will be a brave new world.