Everywhere on social media, pro-China people constantly use the defense strategy of redirecting accusations about China to America’s past and present actions. While it’s smart and even reasonable, this “whataboutism” has the potential to lead China into terrible wars. Here’s why:
First, here are some examples. Why does China keep invading Taiwan’s defense airspace? But America did the same to China in 2013! Why does China have a nine-dash line that violates the exclusive economic zones of countries thousands of km away from China? But America captured Hawaii! And so on.
Where does this end? Will China conquer the Philippines and say, “But America once colonized the Philippines!” If other countries think that China will stick to this what-about-America strategy, they will conclude that China has imperialist plans.
Let’s ignore the discussion about if imperialism is right or wrong. The point here is that every rising power in history has felt that it is not fair that they have to play by the rule, while status quo powers enjoy undue benefits such as from imperialism.
In the late 19th century, Germany looked at England, France, Spain and asked itself, “Why can’t I have colonies?” About 20 years later, WW1 started. After WW1, Japan asked itself a similar question: “Why are all these European countries colonizing Asia in my backyard, but I can’t?” Well, we all know what happened to Japan and Germany.
Of course, not all aspiring colonialists share the same fate. In the late 19th century, America desired the spoils of imperialism. However, the U.S. smartly picked the weakest of all existing empires: Spain. Soon, the U.S. defeated Spain and took over Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
So, China could start its imperialist adventures — take over Taiwan, establish hegemony in South China Sea, and perhaps create vassal states in a couple of the ASEAN countries. Also a few military bases in Africa to protect the natural resources. Why not?
China can finally stop talking about its “peaceful rise,” “win-win”, “shared prosperity for humanity” and other lame propaganda slogans.
Well, here is the catch. Geopolitics and imperialism are like the TV series “Squid Game” — ruthless and deadly.
If China wants to try out imperialism, it must be ready to face the brutality. China cannot then whine about the U.S. and the E.U. trying to contain China. And no more complaining about the QUAD, AUKUS, Japan etc.
China can focus on its economy and try to become a developed nation within the next 30 years. Or, it can try to overthrow the USA and become a super-powah. The second choice would be extremely detrimental to China simply because of the vast alliances that the U.S. can muster.
Or, maybe the liberals and reformers in China would overthrow the CCP, which would be a new beginning for China.