Western media spreads anti-China sentiment on soil of colonial history
Published: Aug 31, 2023 08:47 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

While the West's constant slanders of China intensify, it seems that the misunderstanding of China has gradually taken over Western society. Against this backdrop, some Western intellectuals, who refuse to view China through a distorted lens, choose to push for a rather objective and unbiased point of view to observe China in the West. British author and independent political commentator Carlos Martinez (Martinez) is one of those people. In an interview with Global Times (GT) reporter Xia Wenxin, he shared the reasons behind his interest in studying China, his new book and the difference between governance in China and the US.

GT: When did you start to study China? And what made you so interested in this country?

There were two main motivations for me to start studying China. The first comes from being a Marxist and wanting to understand how socialism is constructed in the real world. The second comes from being anti-imperialist and anti-war and wanting to understand China's role in the development of a peaceful and multipolar world.

The more I study China, the more I realize how poorly it's understood in the West. In recent years, the anti-China propaganda in the Western media has been increasingly intense, corresponding to the rise of the US-led new cold war. Many people have this absurd idea of China as some sort of authoritarian dystopia that's intent on taking over the world. Many people believe the media's disgraceful slanders, including the suppression of human rights in Xinjiang among others. 

China is misunderstood even on the left: lots of people believe that, because China uses market mechanisms, or because there are some very rich people in China, that it can't be socialist anymore. But then how do we explain China's achievements? China has raised living standards beyond recognition; it's become the world leader in renewable energy; it's gone from being a poor and backward country to being a science and technology powerhouse; it's leading the global shift to multipolarity; its life expectancy now exceeds that of the US. All this is historic and unprecedented progress, on a scale that has never been achieved by any capitalist country. Why on earth would the left want to attribute these successes to capitalism rather than socialism?

GT: Your new book, The East is Still Red - Chinese Socialism in the 21st Century was recently published. Could you give a brief introduction to the book? What kind of feedback have you heard since the publication of your new book?

As part of the ongoing imperialist campaign to encircle and contain China, there is a wide-ranging propaganda campaign designed to give the Western public a negative impression of China. Anti-Chinese racism has a long history in the West. So, when the Western media spreads these seeds of anti-China sentiment, they're working on a fertile soil of colonial history.

My motivation in writing The East is Still Red was to counter this anti-China narrative, debunk myths, tell the truth about China and challenge the propaganda war. Lies and slanders are repeated so often that they acquire the force of truth. This can easily be seen in the Western media's treatment of China. These slanders are all being used to generate public support for a new cold war - and potentially a hot war - against China.

GT: How do you understand the concept of "Chinese modernization"? What value does this concept have in today's world?

What China has shown the world is that there is more than one path to modernization. The US, Britain and the other advanced countries tend to claim that their successes stem from their ideology of so-called liberal democracy. This is the dominant narrative: If you have free markets plus a multi-party parliamentary system, you can achieve modernization. But if you look under this very attractive cloak, the truth is considerably uglier.

This path to modernization is not open to the countries of the Global South, and it wouldn't be desirable even if it were available. China is pursuing a new form of modernization, one which is built on global cooperation rather than domination, one which features common prosperity so that everybody shares its fruits and one which strongly emphasizes environmental sustainability and the symbiosis between humanity and nature. China is blazing a trail and setting an example in socialist, peaceful, green modernization; clearly, this is a tremendous service to the world.

GT: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In your opinion, what contributions has the BRI brought to the world?

Particularly in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. A huge number of roads, railways, bridges, factories and ports have been built, along with energy and telecommunications infrastructure. Around three-quarters of the world's countries are signed up to the BRI, including almost every country in Africa.

For the countries of the Global South, the BRI represents a historic opportunity to modernize; to break the chains of underdevelopment that were imposed on them during the colonial era and maintained under modern systems of neocolonialism and imperialism.

Very importantly, the BRI is becoming increasingly green, with a major focus on environmental sustainability. This is giving developing countries the chance to expand their energy systems while "leapfrogging" the stage of intensive emissions from burning vast quantities of fossil fuels.

GT: "China is much more meaningfully democratic than Western countries," as you commented in 2022. Why did you say this? What's the difference between Chinese and Western governance? Has something gone wrong in the Western system, especially the US system?

People have been taught over many decades to believe that so-called liberal democracy is a sort of universal and absolute truth. According to this thinking, there is a fundamental dividing line in global politics, between "democracies" and "non-democracies" or "authoritarian regimes." 

And yet capitalist democracy in reality suffers from serious flaws. The vast majority of people have no say or involvement in how their societies are run, and their governments do not represent their interests.

In the West, there is a strong correlation between wealth and power. In China, on the other hand, governance is finely tuned to the needs of the masses. The number one priority is to attend to the needs and demands of ordinary people for a better life. Furthermore, the system of people's congresses and political consultative conferences is far more democratic and inclusive than Western democratic systems. China's whole-process people's democracy means making democratic rights available at all levels of society at all times and constantly striving to increase participation.

GT: The US has apparently launched a new cold war with China, and as a result, many measures have been taken in various areas. How have these moves and this cold war mentality from Washington hurt the US' own interests? And what chaos have they brought to the world?

This approach is dangerous and self-defeating. Even a cold war is a disaster for humanity. We are all the same species, sharing the same planet, sharing the same natural resources and facing many of the same problems such as future pandemics and climate change. And, in an increasingly connected world, these problems can't be solved in the context of escalating tensions, diplomatic hostility and the constant threat of military conflict.

Even capitalists in the West don't benefit from a new cold war. This is clear from the big semiconductor companies that are being forced into "decoupling" from China, and which as a result are losing their biggest market. All because US strategists mistakenly think they'll be able to prevent China's rise and thereby preserve their own hegemony.

GT: You once noted that "propaganda wars can also be war propaganda." Can you elaborate on this?

What is the reason for the barrage of anti-China propaganda, for the despicable slanders that are leveled against the Chinese government and the CPC? The Western ruling classes, in the era of new cold war, want ordinary people in the West to hate China, to fear China. If people hate and fear China, they will be willing to support their governments' anti-China policy - and potentially even a war against China.

The West has a long history of using propaganda wars as war propaganda. A well-known example is the accusation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This lie was used to build public support for a truly brutal war. For this reason, it is essential that anti-war campaigners in the West challenge the relentless lies about, and slander against, the People's Republic of China.