In the classic treatise On War, written in the final years of the battles of the first inter-imperialist war, German general Carl von Clausewitz famously argued that war is “a real political instrument,” a continuation of politics “by other means.” Canada’s extradition of the CFO of one of China’s most important tech and communications giants to a moribund empire, under charges of violating its imperialist sanctions, compels us to confront the real danger that as competing blocs of world power reconfigure and trade wars rage, we are witnessing the consolidation of politics that can continue only as war.
Tensions between the US and China will not end with Trump’s presidency. US president-elect Biden promises to provide a more competent, multilaterally-oriented leadership to an anti-China bloc that could bring humanity closer to a Third World War for the sake of maintaining Anglo-American global hegemony. And as US aggression against China ramps up, its Western allies follow suit with anti-China sabre rattling and diplomatic, Cold War style maneuvers.
Red Braid Alliance organizes in British Columbia, a long-time hub of anti-Chinese racism. It is our responsibility, as an anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist organization, to fight against the “old” Western imperialist bloc that is reassembling against China, and especially, against Canada’s central role in it. The war on China is, at this point, a propaganda war relying heavily on anti-communist, sensationalized depictions of the violences of the Chinese state. In response to this war, we believe the working class in the West must stand with the working class in China, and not with Western imperial power. That means cultivating an uncompromising opposition to war on China, and fighting sinophobia and the Canadian state head on.
One small part of opposing war on China is to stand publicly with people internationally through shared statements. That is why Red Braid is signing the No Cold War statement, “A new Cold War with China is against the interests of humanity.” We encourage other groups and people to join us in signing this declaration.
What we see where we stand: Western Canada as an epicentre of sinophobia
Sinophobia has a long history in Western Canada and traverses the left-right political spectrum. If anything, organized labour and so-called progressives have typically led Canada’s cultural, legal, and policy sinophobia, institutionalizing anti-Chinese racism on these territories. In 1907, BC’s white trade unionists joined the San Francisco-based “Asiatic Exclusion League” and organized a white riot, attacking Chinese-owned businesses and rooming houses in the central city. In 2017, the BC NDP government carried that same torch, riding to power by popularizing the racist conspiracy theory that mainland Chinese people are responsible for the housing crisis (and later, the opioid crisis).
To say that there has not been a strong, left opposition to the BC NDP’s sinophobic, antebellum policies would be an understatement. The NDP-aligned left defends the racism of government policy by emphasizing that they’re not opposed to mainland Chinese people writ large, only rich “foreign investors.” But lining up with Canadian land thieves and corporate finance officers against Chinese corporations is not anti-capitalism; it’s white supremacy. Both social bases of the NDP, the labour bureaucracy and the urban professional managerial class, administer the privileged access to Indigenous lands and global markets enjoyed by settlers and Canadian companies, so their dedication to Canada’s imperial power is organic and self-serving.
The same cannot be said of the many workers in Canada who are migrants, poor, homeless, racialized, and struggling to survive. While different sectors of workers experience a range of immediate benefits from colonialism and imperialism, these benefits are also inalienably tethered to the exploitation of their labour. So: while many workers in Canada may feel they benefit from imperialism and colonialism by, for example, access to jobs, in the long run the working class as a whole has nothing less than freedom to gain by overthrowing capitalism and imperialism.
Canada’s alignment with the US’s aggression toward China coincides with a dramatic increase in anti-Chinese racism and hate crimes, particularly since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The US anxiety that China is shifting from labour-intensive to capital-intensive production, edging in on industries and markets dominated by Western corporations and emerging as an alternative pole of global power has an ideological trickle-down effect. We see these imperialist, sinophobic anxieties show up in working class communities in the form of racist conspiracy theories claiming that Chinese scientists manufactured Covid-19 in a lab or that Chinese corporations are using 5G networks to spread the virus.
Red Braid Alliance believes that only struggle against Canadian imperialism and white supremacy can counter the insidious effect of sinophobia in our communities.
No War on China!
We are against all forms of war on China: economic, diplomatic, and military. We are against the extradition of Meng Wanzhou and against war on Iran. We are against the dog-whistle of China’s “increasing assertiveness,” which marshals support for the US’s imperial power and obscures its principal role in escalating the trade war.
We oppose all initiatives to increase the power of Canadian capitalists against Chinese capitalists, which does nothing for the working class except shore up a cross-class identification with bosses and landlords. We are against public inquiries into money laundering and gambling that distract us from the corporations that legally loot Indigenous wealth and exploit workers. And we are against an imperialist left that practices vaguely progressive anti-elitism in words and Canadian chauvinism in deeds.
We say: Defeat Canada! No War on China!