Who’s to blame for losing Ukraine? China, of course

At the close of his recent trip to China, while still in Beijing, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made a bellicose statement to the press. 

Blinken’s words marked a new phase in the narrative to prepare the American and European public for more conflict with China. As Caitlin Johnstone has reminded us, “Before they drop the bombs, they drop the narrative.” What, then, is the narrative that Blinken dropped?

Blinken alleges that China’s support for Russia accounts for its success in Ukraine.

In his statement, Blinken tells us that the US has “serious concern” over “components” from China that are “powering” Russia’s war with Ukraine.  He goes on to say that China is the top supplier “of dual-use items that Moscow is using to ramp up its industrial base, a defense industrial base…” 

It is widely accepted that the US is losing its Ukraine proxy war. Blinken now informs us that the US-installed Ukrainian regime is losing because China is aiding Russia.

Blaming China is nothing new in the argot of the West, but here it is put to a new use, as an excuse for yet another embarrassing defeat for the US.

Blinken lists “machine tools, microelectronics, nitrocellulose” as key components that China provides to Russia.  But “dual-use items” is an ill-defined and malleable category.  Potentially, every item of trade can be subsumed under the term. 

For example, if Russia imports Chinese machine tools to make cars, then it can readily be claimed that they are being used to build tanks.  Or if Russia imports nitrocellulose to make fingernail polish, it can be charged that the chemical is being used for gunpowder or explosives. 

So, when the US demands that China stop “indirect” support for Russia’s war effort, it is ultimately demanding that China cut off all trade with Russia. 

Blinken offers no evidence that such “dual use” items are responsible for the drubbing that its Ukraine proxies are taking.  And China has no obligation to curtail its commerce with Russia.  As with India and other genuinely sovereign nations which continue to trade with Russia, China is not bound by the edicts of the United States.

What, in fact, is China’s stance on the Ukraine proxy war? First of all, China says that it is providing no weapons or direct support to Russia’s war effort.  And the US does not try to contest this; it is a given.  In contrast, US and the EU are throwing billions in weapons at the war in Ukraine. 

Similarly, the US insists that it will provide “whatever it takes” for “as long as it takes” for Ukraine to win the war. In sharp contrast, China has called for negotiations to end the conflict and offered to serve as a mediator. 

A negotiated solution would certainly end the conflict that has consumed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and a large but unknown number of Russians. One might think that China’s call would be universally welcomed.  

“Blame China” emerging as a new propaganda line on the Ukraine proxy war

Blaming China for the US failure in Ukraine is not simply a quick talking point inserted into a Blinken speech.  It is being echoed by others in the administration and beyond it in NATO.  

And it is the reason given for a new round of anti-China sanctions. In short, it has all the earmarks of a well-planned propaganda campaign.

In fact, Blinken was not the first to present this view.  In a little-noticed talk about three weeks earlier, on April 3 at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the architect of the “pivot” to East Asia under Obama and now Biden’s “Asia czar” and second in command at State made the same point.

As Business Insider reported, “Campbell said Moscow suffered initial setbacks during the Ukraine war but has ‘retooled and now poses a threat to Ukraine.’ ‘But not just to Ukraine,’” Campbell said. “‘Its newfound capabilities pose a longer-term challenge to stability in Europe and threatens NATO allies.’”

Campbell pointed to Russia’s receiving industrial and commercial support from China as he spoke in a larger discussion on Indo-Pacific security.”

Sure enough, four days later, on May 1,  Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen followed up on Campbell’s talk and Blinken’s threat by announcing new sanctions against 280 “targets” with emphasis on the PRC but also including entities in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Slovakia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

And there was also coordination with NATO on this message. On April 25, one day before Blinken’s statement, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had scolded China for the misdeed of trading with Russia. 

It is not hard to see that the campaign linking China to the Ukraine proxy war has been in the works for a while and is now a priority for the Biden administration. 

Piggybacking Sinophobia to an intense Russophobia in the West.

Blinken made clear that his remarks were also meant to draw NATO into his anti-China crusade, saying:

“In my meetings with NATO Allies earlier this month and with our G7 partners just last week, I heard that same message: fueling Russia’s defense industrial base not only threatens Ukrainian security; it threatens European security.  Beijing cannot achieve better relations with Europe while supporting the greatest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War. As we’ve told China for some time, ensuring transatlantic security is a core US interest.”   

Blinken then concludes this segment of his statement, sounding very much like that great diplomat Don Corleone, “In our discussions today, I made clear that if China does not address this problem, we will.” This declaration drew international attention because of its aggressiveness.

The message linking China to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine is aimed squarely at the American and European public.  Russia and its leaders, at this moment Vladimir Putin, have been successfully portrayed as the embodiment of aggressive evil in the West for a long time. 

This Russophobia has roots going back to the Great Schism of Christianity of 1054 and, with only brief respites, is found in one form or another up to the present moment. In recent years it has intensified again, beginning with Russiagate, long since definitively discredited as a hoax by the Mueller and Durham investigations and by scholars like the late, great Stephen F Cohen. 

But the myth lives on strengthened by the other bête noir of the Establishment, Donald Trump, the bosom buddy of Putin according to the Russiagate mythology. Russophobia and demonization of Putin have been used to justify the eastward expansion of NATO and the current proxy war in Ukraine.

Linking this Russophobia to China helps the US to enlist its EU vassal states in its crusade against China. The message is simple, “If you dislike Russia, you should hate China. And you should love sanctions leveled on China.” 

An escape from the humiliation of defeat at the hands of a “gas station”

The new narrative also saves the US and its Eurovassals from an embarrassing moment as Russia, often dismissed as a “gas station masquerading as a country”, defeats Ukraine, even though Ukraine is heavily backed by Western money, weapons, intelligence and military “advisors.” 

How humiliating it is for the US to be defeated by a “gas station.” A rout of this sort will certainly not help the US as it scours the planet in search of other countries to serve in its goal of total global hegemony, a goal set in the years just before the US entered WWII.

But have Blinken and his colleagues thought this through?  After all, they are saying that the US and EU backed Ukraine while China backed Russia; and Russia won. In its quest to secure anti-China allies, this is not a good look for the US. 

The strategy of linking China to Russia also harbors a contradiction. The US has proclaimed since at least 2011 that China is its main adversary, but it keeps getting distracted, stuck to various Tar Babies, the most prominent being Russia.  (Some others have been Libya, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, the Gaza genocide.)

By linking China to Russia, the US signals once again its inability to shake off its obsession with Russia, leaving it with multiple adversaries rather than one. This is the typical predicament of an overextended Empire. 

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