Wednesday, 6 July 2022

A Brief History of the Chinese Who Came to Britain: Introduction to Hannah Lowe's new poetry collection, Old Friends


Hannah Lowe's new collection of poetry, Old Friends
Published by Hercules Editions, May 2022

Introduction written by Anna Chen

A Brief History of the Chinese Who Came to Britain



How many Chinas are there?

In 2022, two Grand Narratives jockey for position as the dominant conventional wisdom which will define China and its global diaspora: the one which demonises its subject, and the other which humanises.

After enduring their “century of humiliation”, China achieves superpower status and finds itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. For the past few years, geopolitical stability has tumbled down a Sliding Doors rabbit-hole, splitting the narrative of the peaceful emergence of a multipolar world. One version portrays an existential threat to a western way of life already rapidly approaching its best-by date. The other, which it aims to topple, depicts the dragon reborn, a technological marvel raising 800 million out of poverty, battling the Covid-19 which has already felled western powers, while building beautiful futuristic cities and a new Silk Road.

Into this great sweep of history, Hannah Lowe’s poetry collection, “Old Friends”, provides a timely close-up of some of the characters from the great Chinese migration who’d left the upheavals of a China fragmented by 19th century wars and colonisation and fetched up in Britain. From her father’s Jamaica and Ilford where she grew up to the seafarers and their descendents who settled around the ports of Britain, the Chinese diaspora, established long before many of the nations in which it currently exists, has had to deal with the shadowy identities projected onto it by the same dominant entities who are at it today.

In the beginning … the Chinese were a complete mystery to Europeans.

Early tales from the 13th century Venetian Silk Road explorer Marco Polo, told of the great Kublai Khan, whose Mongol grandfather Genghis conquered a swathe of the Euro-asian landmass, establishing the Mongols as the biggest empire ever. Kublai himself unified China, founding the Yuan empire in 1271 from his home turf around Inner Mongolia and his legendary “stately pleasure dome” of Xanadu in Shangdu.

The first impression breaking through the void was of a magical otherworldly realm of horse warriors, sightings of comets and the exotic treasures that made up the chinoiserie Europeans found irresistible — porcelain, gunpowder, silks, spices and tea — whose desirability would lead to the devastating Opium Wars centuries later.

The Chinese made first contact with Britain in 1685 when the young Jesuit priest Michael Alphonsius Shen Fu-tsung, who was touring Catholic Europe, was warmly welcomed by King James II. Unfamiliar with English, Michael communicated in Latin. Until his arrival, few people even knew which way up to hold a Chinese book so having him catalogue them was a revelation to the gentleman bibliophiles who’d acquired their exotic collections from the Dutch East India Company. King James was so enamoured that he commissioned a portrait which still hangs in the Queen’s gallery today.

However, the first significant number of Chinese to arrive in Britain — seamen brought in by the British East Asia Company during the Napoleonic wars to replace white sailors who were enlisted to fight — enjoyed no such representation in heroic tales, historical works or classical images. These mysterious visitors stayed in the poorest areas around the ports of Cardiff, Liverpool and London’s Limehouse waiting for the next ship to take them home. Not for them the humanising engagement of two worlds who’d just discovered each other. Just a minor role as a reliable source of cheap labour. Gone was the respect shown by James II and, instead, hard commerce and exploitation replaced curiosity and affection.

Even this utilitarian view of the Chinese degenerated further when the British decided they no longer wished to pay the bill in silver bullion for the exotic goods they consumed, (eerily echoed by President Donald Trump’s destructive trade war that’s morphing under Biden into a replay of the Opium Wars carve-up by some of the same imperial powers today.) In 1839, the British army, acting as the military wing of the East Asia Trading Company which had applied Industrial Revolution methods to the mass production of opium in Bengal, forced the drug onto the Chinese at gunpoint, turning an aristocratic vice into a nationwide addiction and called it “trade”.

It was during the ascendency of the imperial narcocapitalists that stories and images emerged to describe not the celestial subjects of earlier wonderment but a debased Yellow Peril, which found its apogee in Sax Rohmer’s villainous Fu Manchu. Stripped of all humanity, they were reduced to a reflection of the monsters in the British id, subhumans deserving of the misery meted out by Empire. It’s an ugly narrative that never really disappeared but simmered away, turning the Chinese and their descendents into a permanent reservoir of scapegoats.

The advent of Chinese seamen expanded the communities of international sailors — including Lascars, Portuguese, French, Germans, Russians and Americans — that huddled around Cardiff, Liverpool and London’s Limehouse. Fewer than 200 Chinese seamen and their families lived in two streets in Limehouse – Pennyfields and Limehouse Causeway, thought to include five shops and a couple of restaurants – but those few residents were reimagined by the yellow press as an invading Yellow Peril horde.

Anti-Chinese hysteria driven by inflammatory newspapers such as the Daily Express and Daily Mail led to riots in London and lynchings in Cardiff during the early 20th century. So contemptuous was the post-WWII government’s policy towards Chinese in Britain that the seamen – who had run the wartime merchant navy in appalling conditions for lower wages than their white counterparts and settled in Liverpool – were quietly expelled and sent back to China, even if they’d started families with local white women. Most of the mixed-race children and their mothers were deceived into believing that they had been abandoned by feckless fathers, and thus they remained ignorant, until relatively recently, of the cruelty meted out in secret.

Surviving wars, occupation, prejudice and massacre, it wouldn’t be until the 1950s and 60s that the Chinese diaspora would make its longest-lasting impact on Britain. By doing what it did so well with food, they transformed fading Italian snack bars into the first of the takeaways, putting a Chinese presence on every High Street.

After a brief Golden Age in the 21st century when British-Chinese relations hearkened back to those earliest days when Shen Futsong was embraced by a British monarch, Yellow Peril monstering is making a comeback as China’s economy draws level with the US.

Amidst the tumult of lurid media fantasies, Lowe’s miniatures of the daily life of some of these early immigrants remind us of the common humanity currently obscured by the new wave of state level sinophobia. It opens a door into a world which will be familiar to some and a revelation to others.

Anna Chen

* * * * *

Hannah Lowe on Twitter: @hannahlowepoet
Hercules Editions on Twitter

Saturday, 28 May 2022

The West's propaganda MO: a short 21st century timeline of the race to World War III




No Cold War online event Wednesday 25th May 2022
NATO, Ukraine and Russia: war, propaganda and censorship

The West's propaganda modus operandi: a short 21st century timeline of the race to World War III

Anna Chen's No Cold War talk @35m. I was timed out at Point 9 below, so here's the full text of my speech.

When China explored the world in the 15th century and reached as far as East Africa, they traded a bit and brought back a giraffe. When Europeans landed in the Americas in 1492, they killed and enslaved its native peoples, stole their treasures and gave them smallpox blankets in an early form of biological warfare.

In North America, 100 million native Americans were killed, Black Africans were put through slavery, Jim Crow and imprisonment. The USA was literally built on an ancient Indian burial ground, because that’s what they’d turned it into.

And that’s pretty much been the template ever since.

Europeans sailed beyond their own lands for conquest, glory and fortune. The Chinese mostly stayed at home.

The Chinese invented gunpowder for great firework displays.

Europeans turned gunpowder into murderous weapons of conquest.

If China is the newly rich kid wearing a Rolex who’s wandered on to Mafia turf and is about to be rolled, then America is the 300lb ex-champ who’s geriatric and punch-drunk from all those fights. He’s pinned the kid against a wall, fist in his face, screaming blue murder that the kid’s about to hit him.

Australia and Britain, the Ugly Sisters of the piece, nod enthusiastically and use the opportunity to bury bad news …
like Hard No Deal Brexit fallout,
a wrecked economy,
excess Covid deaths
and a society that’s breaking down.

(Edit: There's an argument to be had that Great Britain, with the oldest secret service in the world dating back to Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabethan times, is the Wicked Stepmother and that the US is the senior Ugly Sister. They fell out regarding control over Iran and its oil fields in the 1950s, and the US stuck to the One China policy. However, GB has at last, after decades, managed to get the US on board for Winston Churchill's balkanisation of China: "I believe in the ultimate partition of China — I mean ultimate. I hope we shall not have to do it in our day. The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.")

Asian people are scapegoated, attacked and killed, all whipped up by the crudest anti-Chinese racism that’s lain dormant as an inserted Yellow Peril memory — which is now being triggered at every level by the 4th Estate of the State, the mainstream media.
On top of the $750 Billion dollars a year spent on military preparation for attacking China, Biden has slapped a $500 million dollar a year propaganda bounty on China’s head.
It’s clearly having a profound effect on our collective sanity. Only a few days ago the Sims family in Bristol were burned out of their home in an arson attack.

And that’s about where we are right now.

Sometimes it feels like we’re living in The Fall of the Roman Empire with Technology, and sometimes, it’s the 1930s. And someone is doing their best to pin a blood libel on the Chinese.

It was only 4 years ago that Christine Lagarde had pointed out the global economy was advancing in sync for the first time. Oh, joy, we might never need war again.

But the plutocrats and industry giants of the West don’t just hold the delusion of conquest of China as the endgame. They are also ridding themselves of surplus labour which is, of course, us. Pampered middle and working class westerners of the post-war liberal era who never had it so good are now being hollowed out and presented with the bill.

So how did we get from the global economy running in sync and relative peace to the West’s race towards a war on the fat, juicy prize that is China?

The Anglosphere’s propaganda wars rely on the public not joining the dots. Events are presented as mysterious disjointed acts of the cosmos without cause or effect.
Never forget the Battle of Orgreave, 18th June 1984, which rehearsed and revealed the depth of manipulation by the state.
Thousands of striking coal miners picketed the British Steel coking plant. The day erupted in violent clashes between the miners and the heavy police presence, many of whom were on horseback.
The news bulletins that night showed the miners attacking the police, who seemingly horse-charged them in response, eliciting public sympathy for the cops and outrage for the miners.
However, when the original film was examined, it emerged that the the TV news outlets had shown the news footage in reverse order, reversing cause and effect, when it had been the police on horseback who'd attacked the peaceful and legally picketing miners.

They cut up the narrative, respliced it, started it at Act 2, slashed the backstory entirely, recast heroes as villains and villains as heroes. Attackers became victims and victims attackers.

In the same way, the 8 years of war on Russian speakers in the Ukraine ever since the violent coup in 2014 is disappeared like magic.

So please just remember that operational template.

A short 21st Century timeline of the march to World War 3


1) George Dubbya Bush designates China a “competitor” in his 2000 election and again in 2005 when he’s standing in the rubble of Iraq.

2) China begins to buy US debt in 2000. In 2006, the value of the US dollar falls by a third because of Iraq war inflation. Meantime, an alarming housing bubble is being pumped up. When China complains, the US tells them to suck it up.

3) Two years later, America’s economic shenanigans lead to a breakdown of their system with the financial meltdown in the US Great Crash of 2008. A global Depression is feared. Deficiencies in Western capitalism are exposed and the system discredited in the eyes of many around the world. China steps in to act as a shock-absorber and rescues the world economy by allowing global currencies to devalue against the yuan, taking a massive economic hit themselves. They buy even more huge amounts of US debt until China holds over a trillion dollars’, and they stimulate domestic consumption because 1.4 billion Chinese can buy a lot of goods.

4) So China saves the world economy from devastation. And how is China thanked for this?
In October 2011, only three years after China saves us all from America’s Great Crash, Hillary Clinton — Obama’s Secretary of State — writes her notorious piece urging US control of the “Western Pacific” (South China Sea!) and the Central Eurasia landmass.
Three huge countries lie in a straight line across the landmass from Europe to Asia: they are, from West to East, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, plus the little known region of China called Sinkiang in ancient times, now known as Xinjiang – China’s back door into Central Asia and Europe. Taiwan claims Mongolia as part of China, so let’s hope President Tsai isn’t made Empress of all the Chinas as the USA seems to want.
The title of Hillary Clinton’s piece is America’s Pacific Century and basically lays out the aims of the Project for the New American Century (began in 1997).
Hillary writes: “… there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to secure and sustain our global leadership in this century as we did in the last. “The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.”

The same year, a NATO coalition attacks Libya and destroys the country.

5) A year later, in 2012, President Obama Pivots to Asia, removing US military from the Middle East and pouring it into Asia where America has about 400 bases surrounding China. By doing so, America takes the first step in existentially threatening China.

2013: US-Australia practise war on China in the exercise “Talisman Saber,” involving 22,000 American and 10,000 Australian personnel and 27 warships.
2014: The US and Philippines begin annual military exercises over the pretext of disputed islands and shoals. Vietnam already started militarising their reclaimed islands back in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, in 2014 there is a right wing coup of the elected government in Ukraine, followed by eight years of violent ethnic cleansing attacks on Russian speakers in the east of the country.

2015: Xi makes an offer to Obama that he won't militarise China’s reclaimed islands if the US stops threatening them. Obama’s response is to sail the US fleet of warships straight into the South China Sea.

6) Obama revives military exercises in the Malacca Strait, situated between Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening to fence in China. Previous massive US exercises had been held in 2006 and 2007, prompting China to take defensive measures. Around 80 per cent of South China Sea traffic is China sending us their goods.

7) Donald Trump is elected in 2016, partly in fear of Killary's enthusiasm for World War.
Trump launches a Trade War on China on spurious grounds. He imposes crippling trade tariffs on Chinese imports (paid for by the American consumer), claiming a huge trade deficit but when you factor in the American corporate giants providing sales and services inside China — like Apple, Microsoft, MacDonalds, Nike, Coke and Starbucks — the deficit is actually a surplus of about $24 billion.

8) Around the same time as Trump’s Trade War, there’s a slew of Thucydides Trap articles warning us not to have a war just because Athens is catching up with Sparta. The trap refers to the situation in history when an upcoming power (ancient Athens) rivals the existing power (Sparta) and the result is a devastating war that wrecks both sides. China negotiates trade in good faith, increasing their purchase of US farming produce and machinery, but refuses to buckle.

9) Faced by a China that’s resisting pressure better than he expected, by summer 2019, Trump has closed the White House pandemic team and the CDC office in Beijing.
Coincidentally, Boris Johnson ascends to the Downing Street premiereship and one of his first actions is to close the British pandemic team, also in July 2019.
In November 2019, a month after Event 201 in New York, the White House briefs Nato and Israel about the coming pandemic but fails to warn China.
In December 2019, China becomes the first country to detect, identify and sequence (Jan 2020) the novel coronavirus, SARS-COV-2: COVID-19.

10) In Hong Kong in the summer of 2019 a US-backed colour revolution attempt ultimately fails without a single death of a protester. That same year US cops kill 1,004 civilians. 2019 is turning out to be a helluva Night of the Long Knives for America.

11) Everyone forgets the Thucydides Trap warnings about conflict between the established superpower and the rising one as the US of Amnesia goes to work.

12) Manufacturing consent for war is started by various military thinks tanks: ASPI, CIMSEC etc. This will involve transferring our collective horror of America's war atrocities and trail of dead on to a country that hasn't had a war since 1979.

13) Western mainstream media such as the Guardian close to opposing views by the time of Hong Kong riots and the CoVfefe outbreak in 2019. The Guardian's sister paper, The Washington Post, is owned by oligarch Jeff Bezos whose Amazon juggernaut runs the Pentagon's Cloud. Capitalism now openly runs the state.

14) In January 2020, just as the world is waking up to the Covid pandemic, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls the Communist Party of China the “central threat of our times.”
Most people have heard Pompeo’s notorious boast that he lies, cheats and steals and runs entire courses on it. How many know this is the exact wording of the Honor Code of the West Point Military Academy he attended … but in reverse: “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do”. They are laughing AT you, not with you.

15) Biden is elected President in November 2020 and raises America's military spend to $780 BILLION a year. On top of this he places a fat bounty on China's head when he budgets $500m a year specifically on anti-China propaganda.
After promising he won't start World War 3, Biden forms AUKUS with Australia, and UK, bringing nuclear war to Asia.
In May 2022, Biden will lash up with Japan in preparing for a war on China on the pretext of "defending" Taiwan despite paying lip-service to the One China policy. Constant sabre-rattling provocations — supplying military arms, sending trainers and politicians to the island, sailing entire warfleets off the coast and sending submarines and airplanes into China's territorial waters and airspace — fail to provoke China into hot conflict with its own territory. America and the West are denied their casus belli and it enrages them.

16) In January 2022, a colour revolution attempt in Kazakhstan (nestled between Russia and Xinjiang) is swiftly ended by Russia and China in cooperation. It becomes clear that, in order to defeat China, the US axis will have to cut the legs out from under it - prime target, Russia. 

17) On the eve of Nord Stream 2 supplying Germany directly with Russian gas, Biden pledges it will never happen. NATO has moved military capability ever closer to the Russian border over the years and Russia has recently mobilised troops on the border to meet the threat. Having killed 14,000 eastern Ukrainians since the 2014 coup, the Ukranian far-right intensifies attacks on Russian-speakers. The trap is sprung.

18) Putin sends his military into the Ukraine. Biden gets his war at last.

19) So … Obama launches the war on China after Dubbya Bush sets it up.
Trump and his Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight find the plans and try to play it clever.
Biden becomes Trump Lite, gets a taste for it and eclipses even the Donald’s hideousness. He’s unable to fulfil even his promise of ending student debt.

I look at the richest country on the planet and see what they’ve done with their wealth. It has been one long looting spree until the top 0.1 per cent own as much as the bottom 90 per cent and the top 0.01 per cent own 11.2 per cent of America's total wealth. Having sucked their own country dry, a tiny stratum of oligarchs, plutocrats, Military Industrial Complex, fossil fuel companies, tech giants and gun-lobby enthusiasts are now creating new hunting grounds in order to replenish and reinvigorate their imploding economy.
And the mainstream media, the Fourth Estate whose role it is to hold the power of the first three estates — legislative, executive and judicial — to account, are right in there with them.
No Fourth Estate, no democracy.

No Cold War online event 25th May 2022
NATO, Ukraine and Russia: war, propaganda and censorship
Speakers:
Andrew Feinstein - Author, campaigner and former African National Congress MP
Camila Escalante - Journalist and presenter for Kawsachun News
Asa Winstanley - Journalist and political commentator
Anna Chen - Writer, poet and broadcaster
Kayla Quesada - Academic and geo-political analyst
Steve Sweeney - International Editor of the Morning Star
Chair: Sequoyah De Souza - No Cold War Britain

Thursday, 20 January 2022

PARTYGATE: another day, another diversion from 176,000 Covid deaths in the UK

UK frogs still being boiled slowly as the government declares Covid-19 to be endemic and ends restrictions.

System failed but mission accomplished

So was it negligent homicide, homicidal negligence or mass murder? No, it's worse: attending parties during lockdown.

It may have been illegal under their own rules, selfish and hypocritical while people were dying, but the charging elephant in the Downing Street garden party is the mainstream media's news blackout on how China eradicated Covid by day 43 of its unprecedented 76-day lockdown of 23rd January 2020.

With a Bannonesque "flooding the zone with excrement" (to put it politely), and the robust instigation of a two-minute hate on the new Goldstein figure after evuhl Ruskies and Muslims fell from the Number One bogey-man spot, Brits were denied China's hard-won roadmap that enabled them to reopen their economy with only outbreaks to stamp out.

Instead, we find ourselves reinventing the wheel over and over, heading into the third year of an avoidable pandemic, no longer even pretending to fend off a virus that is clearly NOT flu and which has not done mutating because it now has an entire population as its playground. Rather than starving it to extinction in a properly-run quarantine by denying it the hosts it needs to survive and reproduce, the state has birthed a Covid industry. Yay, lucky shareholders. Congrats to the power-grabbers.

We've now had 176,000 UK Covid deaths (within 60 days of infection) with growing numbers of children added to the list. In the same period, China has had fewer than 5,000. But still the constant refrain, "China baaaad".

So who gains?

How's this for coincidence?

Boris Johnson mirrored much of Trump's super-spreader policy and cut the legs out from under our defences, closing the UK's pandemic team within days of entering Downing Street as Prime Minister in July 2019, the same month that Trump shut the US CDC's Beijing office that was supposed to monitor new diseases after he'd already dismantled the White House pandemic team.

The US in 2019 was filled with events we can see retrospectively as suspected Covid-related, such as the mysterious summer vaping deaths whose X-rays showed the same glassification of the lungs that would later characterise Covid cases and occurred no-where else in the world; the Fairfax Care Home outbreak, 30 June; the Johns Hopkins Event 201 tabletop pandemic exercise starting 18th October, same day as the start of the Wuhan Military Games; 106 Red Cross Blood samples taken December 2019-January 2021 which indicate Covid in the US from at least August 2019; the Pentagon's November 2019 pandemic briefing of NATO and Israel, reported by ABC News and the Times of Israel but since denied. A wealth of prima facie evidence you'd think deserving of investigation if only to eliminate it from enquiries.

Trump's own National Security officers briefed him in detail about the deadly pandemic on the 28th January 2020 and yet he played down the virus, denied its existence, called it a hoax, stigmatised masks, held massive unmasked rallies, pirated PPE from other countries and his own blue states and recommended bleach.

The same inaction at the top froze any effective response to Covid in the USA and the UK for nearly three months after the 31st December alarm was sounded by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission and carried by the news agencies. As the virus continued to seed itself in the US and UK populations, vast amounts of money would be made.

In March 2020, Trump's inevitable U-turn under the weight of death was accompanied by a State Department cable instructing US officials to blame China for Covid-19 (see The Daily Beast, Independent and Politico).

The UK, and latterly Australia, behaved as if they'd been receiving the same instructions.

Attending parties during lockdown is small beer when the government pauperised us with a devastating no-deal Brexit, allowed Covid to rip, killing 176K Brits, and compounds their crimes by dragging us into World War 3 against our global lifeboat, the world's growth engine that also happens to be a nuclear power.

China sustained a massive hit to its economy and supply chains in order to prioritise the protection of its population, not to mention buying the rest of us time to act. Johnson has done the opposite: sacrificing public health in order to protect (mostly) private and corporate wealth.

To think it all started with a £350 million per week promise on a red bus and ends with an Opium Wars 2 shakedown of the US's upcoming rival by some of the same imperial powers that profited from the West's narcocapitalist atrocities the first time round in the 19th century.

The Brexit and Covid phases are now done. Boris Johnson served the US well but he dragged his feet over ripping out our Huawei 5G infrastructure costing us billions and, although he's gone through the motions with his military willy-waving off the coast of China, it seems he has little real appetite for war.

So Richie Sunak and Dominic Cummings deliver the coup de grace despite their leading participation in this nightmare because it's time for the next Prime Minister to enthusiastically smash the kneecaps of America's talented rival and lead the charge to war with the superpower. My bet is on Starmer, considering the snarling China-hate that emanated from his recent shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy, and David Lammy's promise to Obama last month: "We need to get back to being a consistent, reliable partner that puts values and human right (sic) at the centre of our place in the world", reading "human rights" as the usual euphemism for "our might is right".

The media need to examine their own part in keeping the public in the dark, why they did it and what their objective is, because it's looking more and more as if the USA's geopolitical agenda is far more important to this government than the safety of its own population.

* * * * *

Some of the science information ignored by the mainstream media, obliterated by a campaign of distraction and hate

The Lancet 4th July 2020: Active case finding with case management: the key to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic

Richard Horton in The Lancet 28th March 2020: COVID-19 and the NHS—“a national scandal” 

Joseph Wu in The Lancet 31st January 2020: Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study

People's Covid Inquiry report December 2021, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC: Download here

One World, One Fight: international, multilingual online resource set up by Alibaba

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

A Permanent Reservoir of Scapegoats: how racism drives the geopolitics of China's rise

No Cold War kindly invited me to speak at their online event on 6th October but sound problems rendered my contribution pretty unlistenable — apologies. I am posting the text of my speech here and will try to re-record soon it along with a poem.

A PERMANENT RESERVOIR OF SCAPEGOATS: HOW RACISM DRIVES THE GEOPOLITICS OF CHINA'S RISE

Anna Chen's No Cold War talk Wednesday 6th October 2021

"America has become a supernova, both imploding and exploding at the same time, leaving a fragmented shell of its former self. Unfortunately, it seems intent on dragging us all to hell with it."

A big thank you to Labour conference which just voted 70 to 30 percent against the AUKUS nuclear submarine lash-up: a welcome sign of life during the past few years ever since Trump unleashed his trade war on China and the western world piled on for Opium Wars 2.

* * *

I want to talk about how racism is more than an ugly word shouted at us, more than an assault on any individual. It goes wider than the gunshot massacre of Asian women in Atlanta. Racism is a poisonous force which could, on this trajectory, result in the mass murder of millions of human beings if the USA and its Western allies get the war for which they are busily manufacturing consent, throwing huge resources at it to get their way.

I doubt many of us could name more than a handful of Chinese people in British public life – in politics, the arts, science, and the media. One explosive breakthrough this year was the tennis star Emma Raducanu – and Piers Morgan is already poised to give her the Meghan Markel treatment.

According to the 2011 census in the United Kingdom there were over 433,000 Chinese people living here. So where are we?

When was the last time you saw a Chinese British face or heard their voice as the norm? We are almost entirely missing from the culture and society and that’s not an accident.

Anti-Chinese racism has been deeply embedded ever since the 19th Century Opium Wars when Britain grew industrial quantities of mass-produced opium in stolen Bengal and forced it at gunpoint onto the entire Chinese nation, turning what had been an expensive upper class vice into a nationwide addiction.

We’ve subsequently been made invisible as fully rounded human beings with mainly only the most debased Yellow Peril depictions allowed. Sax Rohmer’s evil mastermind Fu Manchu, submissive lotus blossoms and sexually perverted goons reside deep in our unconscious. As do house slaves, sidekicks and underlings serving the dominant white group.

This absence of representation creates a vacuum where we are an unknown, mysterious entity. It turns us into a blank canvas onto which anything can be projected, mostly from the west’s own history. Now that Western economies are in trouble, all those neuroses and fears, furies and anxieties, need somewhere to go. If Chinese were included, we’d be humanised, shown to possess an inner world, to have a capacity for love, and altruism, a willingness to care for our fellow human beings and to act responsibly for the welfare of the planet.

Instead, we’ve been kept out of the general consciousness and rendered invisible until we are transformed into a permanent reservoir of scapegoats. And that reservoir of scapegoats is what’s being tapped into now.

This geopolitical calamity has loomed for years, we’ve watched the US and its Western sidekicks ticking off nations they don’t like one by one: Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, attempts on Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, Russia, and so many more until it was clear that at the end of this list stood China. The big, juicy prize for the new imperialism: China as the newly rich kid wearing a Rolex who’s wandered onto Mafia turf.

In order to get their war, the US has to find a casus belli to get, according to their think tanks, the ‘taxpayers’ on board for conflict; an excuse for hot, rather than merely ‘cold’, war on China, like the Weapons of Mass Destruction pretext for invading Iraq in 2003.

The US is also niftily transferring its own horrific crimes onto its target. It’s a marvel how everything it’s accused China of doing is straight out of its own history, from being built on genocided land and slavery to kids in concentration camps on the Mexican border to forced sterilisations of minorities by ICE, sexualised violence at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the millions of Muslims killed in its wars, Israel’s 14-year blockade of 2 million Palestinians in Gaza … and what we saw done to them this year. But because Chinese have been turned into a blank canvas, it’s easy to make the crudest Yellow Peril accusations stick.

The country that was destroyed in Britain’s savage Opium Wars, that’s endured invasion and massacre by some of the same nations currently circling like sharks a few miles off its coast, has risen to superpower status over the past few decades, all without war.

It’s raised over 800 MILLION people out of absolute poverty, created a middle-class almost twice the size of the entire population of the US, built beautiful cities and infrastructure, and achieved Zero Covid, barring occasional imported flare-ups.

China basically wants to make our stuff, stabilise the planet and combat climate change as part of a multipolar world alongside America.

But just as it draws level, the West decides to smash its kneecaps. For example, the Chair of the Better Cotton Initiative claims there’s forced labour in Xinjiang, despite state-of-the-art machinery bought from America’s own John Deere company, and fast-rising wages. The fact that this Chair is also President and CEO of the American cotton-marketing company Supima tells you everything about America’s ruthless economic war on its rival.

The declining superpower would rather take down its talented rival than work with it. Like a supernova, America is both imploding and exploding, and is in danger of leaving a fragmented shell of itself floating off into space, and taking us all with it.

Without racism it would be nigh-on impossible to lay these cartoon villain stereotypes onto Chinese people and make them stick. I’d hoped we were far too clever and sophisticated to fall for those Yellow Peril stereotypes as older generations did in the 20th century, but here’s CNN rolling out an alleged Chinese police defector in a fake uniform that doesn’t even get the spelling right.

The mainstream media (MSM) created a vacuum by excluding anything positive about China and filled the void with a constant screeching “China bad” until the narrative set like concrete. The danger of repeating the Big Lie is that, without balanced information, it eventually sticks.

America is the elderly 500 pound gorilla with its glory days behind it, thrashing about, cajoling, threatening and bribing the powers to get on side for Opium Wars 2.

What scares me most about America is what’s happened to the richest country on the planet as the post-war liberal order draws to a close. We see tent cities proliferating, growing poverty, collapsing infrastructure and – literally – power failures. The oligarchs who own the politicians grabbed all the wealth until the top 0.1 percent owns as much as the bottom 90 percent. And now the same forces who ate all the pies are diverting your anger onto China.

People have been given permission to be racist in a cynical diversion of fears onto one identifiable group but, like the Covid virus, racism knows no boundaries. Just like the UK's raw sewage released into our waters, these toxins get everywhere, providing us with a battery of metaphors for what lies beneath.

So when you get upset over a picture of the latest victim of sinophobic racism, remember that this is the end result of a deliberately orchestrated process of dehumanisation. It required a lot of effort and resources to get the West to see Chinese as their punchbag. It required our exclusion from political and cultural life.

Even in social media — how many of you follow or engage with us on Twitter?

To express upset at racist violence while ignoring the conditions that got us here — and consigning us to a ghetto — is to collaborate in that process.

Ultimately, if you don’t care about the Chinese diaspora or see us as fellow Brits, if you don’t care about 1.4 billion human beings in China under attack from the ailing superpower, at least spare a thought about what this march to war means for British people. We’ve been clobbered by austerity and pauperised by a no-deal Brexit. If you think it’s mere incompetence that’s led to one of the highest Covid death rates in the world, think how even before Biden became president, Boris Johnson followed Trump at every step since Pompeo made him a post-Brexit offer he couldn’t refuse.

The United States made China an offer it did refuse. It planted a horse’s head in China’s bed but, unlike the UK and others, China is rejecting the gift. And so should Britain.

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First signs of the UK's anti-Chinese pogrom came in the 2001 tryout when a Blair government branch of MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) accused UK Chinese of starting the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak. This came shortly after the launching of the Project for America in the 21st Century and George Dubbya Bush's declaration in 2000 that China was a competitor. The accusation was so absurd that the MAFF Minister vindicated the Chinese community and the late Hugo Young told the Guardian editors never to do this again.

Some think the war on China began with former President Obama's 2011 Pivot to Asia, moving much of their military out of the wreckage of the Middle East and into China's back yard where US forces practised blockading the Malacca Strait. Former President Trump launched the first salvo in 2018 with his vicious trade war on China.

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