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Facts which show that China won’t be imperialist, which America is

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Date: Friday, 12 January 2024

Facts which show that China won’t be imperialist, which America is


The idea that there is no significant ideological difference between the Governments of China and America is empirically false.

Eric Zuesse (blogs at

On January 12th, Gleb Maskarevich issued a lengthy essay arguing that India is now competing with China to have the world’s leading economy and so is trying to create its own equivalent to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — China’s lending at remarkably low interest-rates to foreign Governments to help them construct throughways by which the goods that are manufactured in China will the most economically efficiently be sent to other markets throughout the world. He wrote that,

The recent events in Sri Lanka have garnered the most attention. First, the port of Hambantota was handed over to a Chinese company as a way for Sri Lanka to pay off its debts, followed by a default on external obligations in 2022, which has reinforced the belief among India’s expert community in the “debt trap” strategy employed by China. They assert that Beijing deliberately burdens its counterparts with debt to establish dependence. The Indians are actively conveying this message to their partners, warning them against close collaboration with China.

However, that belief has already been shown to be at extreme variiance against the relevant facts. UK’s Chatham House or Royal Institute of International Affairs think tank is hardly pro-China, but it issued on 19 August 2020 a “Research Paper” titled “Debunking the Myth of ‘Debt-trap Diplomacy’: How Recipient Countries Shape China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, which stated:

The debt-trap diplomacy thesis arose directly from Sri Lanka’s experience, making it a crucial test case.2 The conventional account is that China lent money to Sri Lanka to build a major port at Hambantota on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, knowing that Colombo would experience debt distress, and that this allowed Beijing to seize the port in exchange for debt relief, permitting its use by the Chinese navy (Chellaney, 2017). Indian commentators frequently argue that China is using the BRI to pursue ‘strategic ambitions’ in South Asia, in this case ‘creating a Chinese naval outpost’ as part of a ‘salami-slicing approach’, and arguing that ‘there is little doubt that China’s leadership would seek to leverage its possession for strategic gains’ (Singh, 2018). Hambantota is thus presented as ‘part of a larger modus operandi’, as US analyst Constantino Xavier has put it, ‘Beijing typically finds a local partner, makes [them] accept investment plans that are detrimental to their country in the long term, and then uses the debts to either acquire the project altogether or to acquire political leverage in that country’ (Stacey, 2017). Similar accounts abound throughout the media, and across a wide range of think-tank and academic literature.

As this section shows, there are many misconceptions in this conventional narrative. First, the Hambantota Port project was not proposed by China, but by the government of former Sri Lankan President (and current Prime Minister) Mahinda Rajapaksa, in cooperation with a profit-seeking Chinese SOE. Second, it was a commercial, not a geostrategic, venture, but one which created vast surplus capacity due to governance problems in Sri Lanka. The port was one of several ‘white elephant’ projects promoted by Mahinda Rajapaksa as part of a corrupt and unsustainable developmental programme. Third, Sri Lanka’s debt distress was unconnected to Chinese lending, arising instead from excessive borrowing on Western-dominated capital markets and from structural problems within the Sri Lankan economy. Fourth, there was no debt-for-asset swap. Rather, after bargaining hard for commercial reasons, a Chinese SOE leased the port in exchange for $1.1 billion, which Sri Lanka used to pay down other debts and boost foreign reserves. Fifth, Chinese navy vessels cannot use the port, which will instead become the new base of Sri Lanka’s own southern naval command. All these problems arose not from a carefully crafted top-down strategy, but rather as a result of the dynamics described in chapters 2 and 3 of this paper.

The origins of Hambantota Port

The Hambantota Port project originated not in the minds of Chinese strategists, but rather in those of Sri Lankan developmentalists. The idea of building a deepwater harbour there originated in the 1970s, conceived by local parliamentarian D. A. Rajapaksa (SLPA, 2010). In 2001, one of his sons, Mahinda, then minister with responsibility for ports, gazetted the port and commissioned a feasibility study, but this judged the location to be unsuitable (SLPA, 2010; Wijenayake, 2017). Nonetheless, it was included in the government’s 2002 ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ development strategy (Government of Sri Lanka, 2002). After becoming prime minister in April 2004, Mahinda Rajapaksa commissioned another feasibility study, but was deterred by projected costs. However, in 2006, another feasibility study, by Danish firm Rambøll, found that a first phase would be commercially viable (Rithmire and Li, 2019: p. 8). This persuaded the Sri Lankan Ports Authority (SLPA) to champion the project, which was finally green-lighted in 2007 (SLPA, 2010). The government then began seeking international backers.

The Hambantota Port project, together with other infrastructure projects, reflected both need and greed. Sri Lanka has a serious infrastructure gap – estimated at $36 billion in 2014 – and post-2006 pledged Chinese investment eventually covered one-third of this (Wignaraja et al., 2020: p. 8). However, these plans also reflected Mahinda Rajapaksa’s wish to direct resources to his home district, and the wider region, where his Sri Lanka Freedom Party faced a mounting opposition challenge (US Embassy, 2007a). Alongside the port development came ambitious plans for road and railway links, a new airport (the largest in South Asia), and a new airline. As early as 2006, US diplomats observed that political motives were overriding rational development planning:

Rajapaksa […] has chosen large projects that will attract a lot of attention and praise for him and his party. Unfortunately, little thought has been put into what Hambantota District actually needs, what types of projects would provide jobs that locals can fill, and what would raise standards of living. There is no strategic approach to developing the region and no coordination between the agencies responsible for the different projects. There also seems to be a lack of understanding, even within the business community, that a certain level of demand and investor interest is necessary for some of these projects to be successful. An empty port, an empty airport, and an empty vast convention center would not generate the benefits that Hambantota needs […] (US Embassy, 2006).

These projects also serviced a corrupt and increasingly authoritarian network centred on the president’s family. The government assigned infrastructure projects to regime-linked cronies, while cramming key agencies with loyalists to mute bureaucratic objections and facilitate off-balance-sheet borrowing by state-owned companies and private banks (Kelegama, 2017: pp. 441, 446–7). The company responsible for building Hambantota Port also allegedly funnelled at least $7.6 million to affiliates of Mahinda Rajapaksa, to assist his 2015 bid for re-election to the presidency (Abi-Habib, 2018).

China doesn’t just talk the talk against imperialism but embodies anti-imperialism in its actual policies. This is extremely in contrast against what has been and is the U.S. Government’s consistent policy ever since 25 July 1945, for the U.S. Government to become not only the world’s largest imperial power but the world’s ONLY surviving imperial power.

According to ideological labels, America is “capitalist” and China is “communist”; but Hitler was capitalist, and Stalin and Mao were communist, and all three of those men were dictators, not democrats. America at that time, under FDR, was a democracy, but, unlike Hitler’s Germany, America at that time was a capitalist democracy, not a capitalist dictatorship at that time.

This shows the cruciality of distinguishing between political labels such as “democracy” and “dictatorship,” versus economic labels, such as “capitalist” and “communist.”

Communism is dictatorial socialism but Scandinavian countries had long been socialist democracies, which means democratic countries that differed from communist countries, which latter countries combined socialism with dictatorship (instead of with democracy).

Fascism is capitalistic dictatorship, which means that the nation is ruled not by its citizens but by its wealth, like on a one-dollar-one-vote basis instead of on a one-person-one-vote basis. (In former eras, that type of country was called “aristocratic” or “feudal,” but fascism is the modern form of that.) In other words: it is ruled by corruption (its essence is corruption): the aristocracy (the nation’s richest few) have purchased and control the successful politicians; the public don’t rule there — the citizens aren’t really represented in the Government (they are the Government’s “subjects,” instead of actually its “citizens”). The aristocracy — the super-rich — control (among other things, such as the weapons-making firms) the media, and so shape what the public believes and how the public will vote.

Fascist countries are usually imperialistic (like Hitler and all American Presidents this century have been) because the owners of over 50% of a nation’s wealth control the nation’s international corporations and want their international corporations to control foreign Governments so as for them to have an unfair advantage against their international competitors. This is the nature of imperialism (it is a feature of fascist countries); and, ever since 25 July 1945, it is how the U.S. has been governed — for the U.S. Government to take control over the entire world, on behalf of America’s billionaires.

The major criticism against China is that now that it is the world’s largest economy and has increased its GDP at Purchasing-Power-Parity so immensely since 1980 when communism started being replaced by capitalism in China, so that, since that time, the U.S. economy rose 4.24 times, the EU rose 3.90 times, and China rose 21.83 times, during that period from 1980 till 2022, China’s enemies are alleging that China now poses the danger that America did after 25 July 1945 when U.S. President Truman decided to set the U.S. Government onto the path that Hitler had intended for Germany — to take over the entire world (for his ‘Thousand-Year Reich’ of Germany). While America after Truman did develop the largest empire that the world has ever had, China has been and remains anti-imperialistic. Allegations to the contrary by the U.S. regime and its agents (and, now, even by the Russian Gleb Maskarevich) are believed only by fools, because not merely has the Chinese Government consistently condemned imperialism, but it has (at least ever since 1895) never engaged in it in practise either. 

Here is a chart that shows the United States having finally been overtaken by China during 2016 as the world’s largest national economy — and it also shows that after 2016 China’s economy has continued to rise even faster than America’s has, and the main reason for this continuation is that China, virtually alone among all of the world’s 200+ countries during the covid-19 2020 year, continued to increase its GDP PPP while the U.S. (which performed among the world’s worst on the covid-19 challenge) economy actually shrank that year. China was virtually the world’s lone exception that year. So: no predictions are being made here, but China definitely IS the world’s largest economy. And its competitors (especially the imperialistic U.S.) are taking the win-lose game approach (which it calls “neoconservatism”), instead of the win-win game approach, in order to deal with that fact. America wants to conquer China instead of cooperate with it. So: China definitely IS being threatened by the U.S. Government, because (unlike China’s Government), America’s is fascist, and this also means that America’s is controlled by its military-industrial complex, which is controlled by America’s aristocrats.

As far as India is concerned: if Modi moves India away from China and toward America, then post-UK-empire India’s anti-imperialist tradition will be twisting in its grave — and the Indian people will suffer from that.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s latest book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.

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