A Global Affairs study conducted in 2023 indicates that 58 % of US Americans view China’s development “as a critical threat to the vital interest of the United States”, and only 19 % “believe that China will deal responsibly with world problems.”

On the other hand a recent Brookings article suggests that most Chinese feel that the USA’s desire to preserve its “global hegemony” is depriving “China it’s right to develop”. The article directs us to a 53-page angry bipartisan report, “A Strategy to Win America’s Competition with the Chinese Communist Party“. Its introduction reads:

For a generation, the United States bet that robust economic engagement would lead the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to open its economy and financial markets and in turn to liberalize its political system and abide by the rule of law. Those reforms did not occur. … the CCP has pursued a multidecade campaign of … decoupling the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from the global economy, making the PRC less dependent on the United States in critical sectors, while making the United States more dependent on the PRC.…

(There is no disputing that China seeks to become less dependent of the US economy.)

On page 8, the report’s list of recommendations ends thus:

Taken together [the recommendations] would level the economic playing field, reduce the PRC’s hold on U.S. and allied critical supply chains, and invest in a future of continued economic and technological leadership for the United States and its likeminded alliesand partners. [My highlight]


The term “leadership” occurs 25 times in the report, as for example here:
“… thereby undermining American global leadership”.

What the report calls “continued global leadership”, the Chinese refer to as “continued hegemony”. Are the expressions synonymous?

We don’t often encounter the word “hegemony” in the daily news. It sounds foreign and has an unpleasant aftertaste. Nevertheless, a Google search for “USA” AND “hegemony” will return an avalanche of links to sites that either predict an end to US hegemony or, on the contrary, hotly dismiss such a prognosis.

Britannica on hegemony:

… the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas. The term hegemony is today often used as shorthand to describe the relatively dominant position of a particular set of ideas and their associated tendency to become commonsensical and intuitive, thereby inhibiting the dissemination or even the articulation of alternative ideas.

Britannica’s subtle definition would perhaps be reworded by a less highly educated person as: “hegemony” is power exercised by persons who are bossy, domineering – in short bullies.

I’m taking pains to stress this fine distinction between (good) “leadership”, which we admire in a sports team, a military unit or a well-run workplace, and hegemony, which tends to be resented or, at best, tolerated because there is no alternative.

I believe that US Americans are being mislead by their leaders – Democrats and Republicans alike – as to what the rest of the world feels about their country’s economic, military and political control over much of the world. If you read Rogue State by the indefatigable late William Blum (whom I have eulogised in post after post) you will understand that grievances are not without cause.

Back to China. For the USA, the “threat” from China is primarily economic and technological. Do please note the word “threat”. Not even the above-quoted angry report maintains that China seeks to harm the USA with economic sanctions, lethal viruses or AI attacks on banks. According to the report, the only reason China represents a “threat” is that it’s doing well although (or perhaps because) it deliberately fails to follow the US neoliberal playbook. China designs its’s economic policies in such a way that economic growth also improves living conditions for its population. The US hasn’t been doing anything of the kind for several decades.

In 2023 Chinese GNP grew by 5.2 %. Even the IMF expects it to grow by 4.6 % in 2024. China is doing well in spite of Covid, and in spite of a serious real estate crisis. That is certainly not the case for EU states, and the US is so debt-ridden that many people are transferring their savings to expensive cryptocurrencies.

So China represents no military threat to the USA, yet. But in view of recent US provocations (Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and the gift to Taiwan in April this year of 8 billion USD in military aid) China will surely be preparing itself.

What is Taiwan, by the way? It is not a country recognised by the UN. It was always part of China until after Chiang Kai-Shek lost the civil war and fled to Taiwan which subsequently suffered a murderous 38-year dictatorship. You will not find much about this on the internet, alas. Yet, it was only in 2016 that his Kuomintang party was voted out of power. At best you might get an idea with a search for “Taiwan 228”. History is written, after all, by the victors. USA has been the victor since WWII.

After WWII the USA was one of very few countries in the world that wasn’t destroyed. Russia, China, Germany, England, France, Japan… all in ruins because of the war, and the third world was in ruins because of colonialism. The USA was determined to call the shots, and has done just that ever since.

When US policy makers use the word “hegemon” they prefix it with the epithet “benevolent”. The “benevolent hegemon”. Words have power and US citizens have been deluded into thinking that their country has spawned democracy and justice throughout its sphere of influence.

The benevolent hegemon’s malignant foreign policy choices are now being countered, and the USA is desperately trying to pull its chestnuts out of the fire. Desperate situations call for desperate action. Trying to provoke a war with China may be one of them.