Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT
In the eyes of some Westerners, China is accused of posing a "systematic challenge" to the "world order." However, failing to specifically articulate this challenge or threat, many across the West resort to citing a list of fabricated claims regarding China's internal political affairs including the status of the island of Taiwan as well as pointing toward territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
While the West often depicts these territorial disputes as exclusively between China and the rest of the region, omitted is the fact that all other claimants in the region also have disputes with each other. Despite the sometimes heated nature of these disputes, these nations still maintain close ties with one another and with China, revealing this as an excuse rather than a genuine reason to label China as the biggest threat to global security and prosperity.
While Western leaders struggle to justify labeling China as a challenge or threat, the collective West led by the US has participated in the worst acts of aggression of the 21st century. The US, for example, led an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. This was followed by a bloody occupation that spanned two decades ending only as recently as 2021.
In 2003, the US yet again led the West into an act of unprovoked military aggression, this time against Iraq. The war resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. US troops remain in a deeply divided and destabilized Iraq to this day.
In 2011, a US-led attack against the Libyan government destroyed, destabilized and divided Libya. One of the enduring outcomes of the war is modern-day slavery including slave auctions flourishing in the failed state, as US-based Time Magazine reported in 2019.
In just the 21st century alone, the US and its allies have cut a swath of death and destruction from North Africa to Central Asia, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing or otherwise disrupting the lives of tens of millions. The instability the US has sown globally has created a climate of insecurity as weapons the US surges into proxy wars, including now in Ukraine, are finding their way to battlefields elsewhere around the globe.
For the collective West and the US especially to cite ordinary maritime disputes in the South China Sea among nations that otherwise maintain constructive ties with each other as "evidence" of China's "challenge" or threat to the world, goes far beyond hypocrisy.
In reality, the West does not fear China because it threatens global security and prosperity. The West fears China because its rise represents the end of the West's ability to threaten the world with impunity.
China's only war in this 21st century has been against poverty within its borders. Having succeeded in overcoming poverty at home, China now drives to connect its economy with others around the globe through its Belt and Road Initiative.
Since the turn of the century, not only did China itself go from having no high-speed rail at all to building the largest high-speed rail network on Earth, it has helped build railways, roads, seaports and airports connecting this network to other nations across Eurasia, enhancing prosperity, encouraging cooperation, and thus improving security.
An example of this includes building highways and a high-speed railway now connecting landlocked Laos' capital of Vientiane to Kunming, China. Before these projects were completed, the only way to make the trip was by traveling three days through dangerous mountain roads. The same trip now takes just 10 hours.
As a note of particular irony, the construction of Laos' high-speed railway required those Chinese engineers to first clear the route from bombs dropped by the US that have covered Laos since the Vietnam War last century, which to this day still maim and kill people across the region.
The 21st century has given rise to the adage, "America Bombs, China Builds," reflecting the stark contrast between how the West and China interact with the rest of the world.
The West regularly accuses China of possessing the "means and intent to reshape the world order." Considering the reality of what the current "world order" the West created actually represents and the demonstrable way in which China is clearly "reshaping" that order, can anyone beyond those profiting from endless war convincingly say this is an undesirable development?
It is clear that while China most certainly represents a "threat" to those who thrive on global death and destruction, the real threat to the vast majority of human beings on Earth is the nation encircling the planet with its military bases from which it launches and maintains military conflicts and occupations everywhere from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and from North Africa to Central Asia.
The author is a geopolitical analyst and a former soldier of US Marine Corps.