US Hegemony and Its Perils: Part II
Before you read: US Hegemony and Its Perils: Part I
“The historical trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit are unstoppable. The United States has been overriding truth with its power and trampling justice to serve self-interest. These unilateral, egoistic and regressive hegemonic practices have drawn growing, intense criticism and opposition from the international community.”
On 20 February 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the People’s Republic of China published a paper titled US Hegemony and Its Perils. The 5-page paper, which received virtually no coverage in western mainstream media, is a scathing criticism of US foreign and domestic policy: deconstructing the facade of America as a “benevolent superpower” and unmasking the heinous, imperialist machinations lurking just beneath the surface. The paper, along with others published the same month regarding rampant drug abuse and gun violence in the United States, punctuate the sustained and calculated shift in the stereotypically boilerplate, reserved, and diplomatic tone of the MFA. Beginning around the period of Nancy Pelosi’s illegal “visit” to the renegade Chinese province of Taiwan in late-2022, the United States government has ruthlessly pursued a policy of increasing tensions with China; punctuated by routine violations of international norms and flagrant provocations aimed at drawing China towards conflict. The recent series of papers released by the MFA point to a clear and decisive shift in China’s posture: the United States has made it abundantly clear that it wants war, and will stop at nothing to compromise, and ultimately destroy, the freedom, independence, and democracy of the People’s Republic of China. China’s new approach, then, is one of sternness, and equal clarity: that even if the United States does not reverse course, China will push forward, and all consequences resulting from violating China’s legitimate interests as a sovereign State will be borne by the United States.
The first step of this shift in Chinese position is to mark a clear delineation between the values proclaimed by the liberal-capitalist hegemony versus the reality as experienced by its people at home, and its victims throughout the world—to “throw off the mask” and present the United States for what it really is: not a bastion of freedom, but a prisonhouse of nations; not a land of liberty, but a heinously corrupt dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; not a safe haven for the pursuit of happiness, but a settler-colonial slaver empire.
This analysis of the MFA’s paper on US hegemony is organized into two parts: part II covers the remaining three aspects discussed by the MFA: Economic Hegemony, Technological Hegemony, and Cultural Hegemony. Part I, published last week, covers the first two aspects: Political Hegemony and Military Hegemony.
“America's economic and financial hegemony has become a geopolitical weapon… Statistics show that U.S. sanctions against foreign entities increased by 933 percent from 2000 to 2021. The Trump administration alone has imposed more than 3,900 sanctions, which means three sanctions per day. So far, the United States had or has imposed economic sanctions on nearly 40 countries across the world, including Cuba, China, Russia, the DPRK, Iran and Venezuela, affecting nearly half of the world's population.”
III. Economic Hegemony—Looting and Exploitation
The third aspect of US hegemony is the underhanded exercise of pervasive economic hegemony—the insidious and protracted usage of dollar hegemony through the Bretton Woods System, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank, to exert unrivaled global influence over every country on earth through a US government-backed system of financial institutions and controls.
One particularly heinous method the US uses to extract wealth from other countries is through seigniorage; the cost to print a $100 USD bill is only $0.17, however, foreign countries are required by the aforementioned agreements to maintain reserves and clear certain transactions in US dollars. In order to acquire the dollars these foreign countries are often required to have, they must give up $100 USD worth of actual goods or services. Since the US Dollar is not backed by hard assets of any kind, the US can print dollars as it sees fit, and, as long as certain basic financial logic is followed (inflation, for example), by doing so is able to extract $99.83 USD worth of goods and services for every $100 USD note entered into international exchange. This seigniorage economically entraps countries and creates conditions where the US government is able to exercise its will with impunity against other countries that are inherently disadvantaged by the current arrangement, such as those with limited access to alternative financial markets. Through US seigniorage, these countries are being forced to give up $100 of goods in exchange for $0.17 worth of what is basically Monopoly™ Munny—or their economies will collapse.
For the global economy, US dollar hegemony is a great source of instability; as the US federal reserve unilaterally determines how many dollars it prints, as well as interest rates, the rest of the world is left to deal with the repercussions: currency depreciation, runaway inflation, and unsustainable capital outflows. Essentially, the US exercises total power over creating and ending economic crises in smaller nations whose financial stability exists at the discretion of US financial policy—if they do not bow to US wealth extraction, their economy is quickly tanked. “This was exactly what Nixon's secretary of the treasury John Connally once remarked, with self-satisfaction yet sharp precision, that ‘the dollar is our currency, but it is your problem.’”
With smaller and historically exploited economies held hostage by dollar hegemony, institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund further function as enforcers of US interests. In simplest terms, in order to maintain or develop their economies, these smaller countries are presented loans and development programs from the aforementioned organizations: as they begin to rely on these programs, they are then turned into a weapon, with threats of revoking “aid” if countries do not comply with US policy interests—a textbook debt trap. As highlighted by the MFA, the 1,550 debt relief programs offered by the IMF between 1985 and 2014 were accompanied with 55,465 political demands.
Those who refuse US demands, or succeed in growing their economies too much and become potential competitors to US hegemony, are immediately faced with economic sabotage. Interestingly, the example presented by the MFA is Japan. Following the US’ seven-year occupation of Japan after World War Two, the Japanese economy experienced a period of rapid reconstruction, growth, and prosperity. Known as one of the Tiger Economies, alongside Hong Kong, Taiwan province, southern Korea, and Singapore, Japan was viewed by many as a growing economic power that could potentially outcompete the US. The US, however, wished to continue dominating Japan, and use their country as an asset against the Soviet Union—their greatest competitor, and only impediment to total global domination at the time. Japan buckled to US pressure, opened its financial markets, reformed its financial system, and signed the Plaza Accord—the ensuing degrowth and stagnation brought Japan back under the US’ thumb, and is known as the three lost decades. Another example of this phenomena not mentioned in the MFA’s paper is the attempted color revolution in Kazakhstan in January 2022: US backed institutions threatened to revoke economic aid in the name of environmentalism if the Kazakh government refused to end its subsidy of gasoline and fuel for its people—naturally, when the Kazakh government attempted to comply with their demands, the people rioted, and US-aligned political organizations attempted to overthrow the government.
“U.S. surveillance is indiscriminate. All can be targets of its surveillance… Cyber surveillance and attacks launched by the United States such as ‘Prism,’ ‘Dirtbox,’ ‘Irritant Horn’ and ‘Telescreen Operation’ are all proof that the United States is closely monitoring its allies and partners… Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, a website that has exposed U.S. surveillance programs, said ‘do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor or respect.
There is only one rule: there are no rules.’”
IV. Technological Hegemony—Monopoly and Suppression
The fourth aspect of US hegemony is that of technological hegemony—the kneecapping of competition in order to maintain a US monopoly on advanced science and technologies which are then utilized in order to reinforce the overarching hegemony of the US through all other methods.
By establishing the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994, the US forced other nations to adopt US standards on what it considers “intellectual property”—depriving the general public from many of the benefits of technological advancement, and particularly preying on smaller and weaker countries who become reliant on US-based intellectual properties and technologies. The MFA connects this phenomena with the aforementioned economic kneecapping of Japan by the US in the 1980s: the Japanese semiconductor industry held a market share of 50%, but, after US meddling, browbeating, and pressuring of the Japanese government into a series of agreements, that market share fell to 10%, and the industry collapsed in the face of US-backed competitors. Today, a similar situation appears to be developing in response to the imminent reunification of Taiwan province, a major producer of microchips, with the mainland; leading to the US openly threatening to commit industrial sabotage.
Rather than competing in the so-called “free market” as it claims, the US politicizes and weaponizes science & technology-related issues, turning them into political props for the US’ own interests. The most common tactic for this is the cynical appeal to “national security”—the MFA highlights that this was the exact track taken by the US in suppressing and sanctioning Huawei; an underhanded campaign that at one point even involved pressuring Canadian authorities to detain Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for nearly three years without legitimate cause. Most recently, the popular app TikTok has faced the same attacks. The US has unilaterally sanctioned more than 1,000 Chinese entities, casting aspersions about their alleged connection to the Chinese government and threat to “national security,” all while ignoring the publicly-known spying operations the US actively pursues all around the world using its own technology. This heinous enforcement of US hegemony extends likewise to biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other areas; export restrictions, discriminatory investment screening, the suppression of popular Chinese social media applications, and, most recently, attempts to sabotage China’s trade relations with other countries regarding such technologies—most notably computer chips and related equipment & technology. This policy of underhanded hegemonism extends even to Chinese people themselves, who face racist discrimination, visa rejection, denial of entry, and harassment—including groundless criminal investigations into Chinese scholars living in the US.
By turning science and technology issues into political issues of “democracy” and “human rights”, the US attempts to “fabricate excuses for its technological blockade against other countries”, which is then carried out along bloc lines—typically in conjunction with other European imperialist beneficiaries. The MFA highlights the US’ attempts to stifle cooperation regarding 5G technology as a clear example of how the US carries out such actions, using appeals to “cyber security” as a guise to enforce US technological hegemony against China. A further example of this, the illegal blockade of Cuba, prevents the proliferation of advanced Cuban healthcare technology—such as the groundbreaking lung cancer vaccine developed in 2022; according to the American Cancer Society, over 120,000 Americans die every year from lung cancer—deaths that can directly be attributed to the illegal US blockade preventing life-saving medical technology from reaching the American people. All in the name of preserving hegemony.
With its technological hegemony enforced in the aforementioned ways, the US utilizes its position in order to carry out nefarious actions towards other countries: “It has all kinds of means to enforce pervasive cyber attacks and surveillance, including using analog base station signals to access mobile phones for data theft, manipulating mobile apps, infiltrating cloud servers, and stealing through undersea cables. The list goes on.” The surveillance regime enforced by the US through its technological hegemony knows no limits, and targets all countries, including the US’ own allies. Numerous whistleblowers, most famously Edward Snowden, showed to the world that the US’ mass-surveillance and spying not only includes the complete violation of American privacy, but also extends to people throughout the world, regardless of location, and even includes the leaders of countries allied with the US—most notably Angela Merkel, then-Chancellor of Germany, was found to be a target of US spying.
“The United States uses misinformation as a spear to attack other countries, and has built an industrial chain around it: there are groups and individuals making up stories, and peddling them worldwide to mislead public opinion with the support of nearly limitless financial resources.”
V. Cultural Hegemony—Spreading False Narratives
The fifth and final aspect of US hegemony is cultural hegemony—utilizing media and culture in order to spread false narratives and disinformation around the world, propping up a fake image of the US that does not comport with reality while spreading racism and prejudice against those who do not conform with US interests. Being an incredibly diverse country, the US government heinously co-opts and subverts this diversity in order to further its own interests. “The United States skilfully exploits its cultural diversity to appeal to various ethnicities. When Hollywood movies descend on the world, they scream the American values tied to them.”
Holding 70% of global market share, Hollywood is a key tool utilized by the US to enforce and maintain cultural hegemony; turning innocuous products—television and movies—into trojan horses pushing US values and interests, supported further by government-backed cultural institutions, subtly shaping public opinion and influencing unsuspecting consumers around the world. The MFA highlights John Yemma’s The Americanization of the World as exposing “the real weapons in U.S. cultural expansion: the Hollywood, the image design factories on Madison Avenue and the production lines of Mattel Company and Coca-Cola.” The US Department of Defense (DOD) openly admits to directly coordinating with Hollywood, simultaneously boasting of the long and fruitful relationship the two have together, while also attempting to downplay the clear implications of such a relationship; glossing over the outright admission that the DOD is involved in reviewing rough cuts and scripts of films and television shows that go on to form popular culture.
The MFA further highlights that this hegemony is not merely in the form of what it calls “direct intervention,” but also what it describes as “media infiltration.” All major social media outlets are censored and forced into compliance with US government interests: as the CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk, admitted, all such platforms are required to work with the US government, censoring content, supporting content favorable to the government—or even covertly managed by agents of the government—influencing public opinion, and intervening against information deemed too damaging. The MFA further highlights that Google practices similar censorship. In one case, it was shown that in 2017 an official from the US Department of Defense’s Central Command (Centcom) contacted Twitter directly in order to ensure that a specific list of accounts be amplified on the platform—those accounts, of course, were involved in supporting US interests, such as voicing support for the illegal US bombing of Yemen; even more recently, it was revealed that Facebook even handed over private messages of individuals in Texas who allegedly procured an abortion—a reproductive right that has been heinously outlawed.
”U.S.-dominated Western media has a particularly important role in shaping global public opinion in favor of U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.”
As the US carries out this program of underhanded deception and authoritarian censorship at home, it brutally suppresses foreign media. Russia, being the current primary target of US imperialism, is highlighted as facing “[u]nprecedented draconian censorship”. Russian media is censored, restricted, removed, and demonized for no other reason than being Russian—textbook xenophobia. The MFA highlights Russia Today and Sputnik as specific examples of the silencing of Russian media in the west. Not mentioned by the MFA, but equally noteworthy, are examples of US-based social media corporations marking accounts critical of US hegemony as Chinese, Russian, Iranian, etc., “state affiliated media” in order to try to discredit them.
In socialist countries, including China, the US exercises its cultural hegemony as a method for insidiously spreading counterrevolutionary themes and messages in order to stoke what the MFA sarcastically refers to as “‘peaceful evolution.’“ Without specifically mentioning outfits such as Radio Free Asia, a known CIA front engaged in the spread of disinformation, the MFA decries the US campaign of pouring “staggering amounts of public funds into radio and TV networks to support their ideological infiltration, and these mouthpieces bombard socialist countries in dozens of languages with inflammatory propaganda day and night.” Not only does the US practice misinformation and propaganda, it has engineered an entire industry around them, raking in billions annually while exporting propaganda.
Xi Jinping Attends the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting and Delivers a Keynote Speech. 16 March 2023, via Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“Countries need to respect each other and treat each other as equals. Big countries should behave in a manner befitting their status and take the lead in pursuing a new model of state-to-state relations featuring dialogue and partnership, not confrontation or alliance. China opposes all forms of hegemonism and power politics, and rejects interference in other countries' internal affairs. The United States must conduct serious soul-searching. It must critically examine what it has done, let go of its arrogance and prejudice, and quit its hegemonic, domineering and bullying practices.”
In this section we have explored and analyzed the the last three facets of US hegemony outlined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Economic Hegemony, Technological Hegemony, and Cultural Hegemony—how the US government loots, exploits, spreads false narratives, establishes monopolies, and actively suppresses other nations in order to serve its own interests and cripple those it fears of becoming competitors.
Coinciding with the release and analysis of the MFA’s paper, several other developments in recent weeks highlight how the Chinese government is becoming an increasingly problematic “competitor” to this one-sided US imperialism: politically, it was announced on 11 March that China had successfully brokered a deal between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran to begin normalizing relations. This development marks a seismic shift in the geopolitical realities of the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia and Iran had, until now, represented rival forces within the region—a rivalry that the US often took advantage of in order to pursue its own interests. With the US completely left out of the negotiation process, and the apparent winding down of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry in favor of Chinese-led mutual cooperation and win-win development, this deals a potentially catastrophic blow to US interests in the region, and signals China’s own growing political influence—an influence it wields, not to foment war, but to establish peace and pursue prosperity. In the same vein, militarily the US has continued to attempt to increase tensions with China in order to maintain its position as hegemon; primarily through exacerbating tensions around Taiwan province. However, as highlighted by MFA spokesperson Mao Ning on 08 March, China is not backing down; without the political influence necessary to continue pushing its interests, it is likely that any overt US military intervention will be met with complete disaster.