Multipolarity to prevail despite US ‘decoupling’ push

The following article by Carlos Martinez first appeared in Global Times on 1 December 2022. It addresses the signs of an emerging split in the New Cold War front, with Germany in particular starting to assert some foreign policy independence from Washington.

In an important speech on economic strategy, delivered at a recent forum organised by the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for Germany to orient itself toward the reality of an “increasingly multipolar world” that is arranging itself right now.

Scholz stated, countering a narrative that Europe and North America can simply return to reliable economic growth following the disruptions of COVID-19 and the crisis in Ukraine, that the growing strength of Asia had fundamentally changed the international landscape. There will be no going back to the good old days in which North America and Western Europe enjoyed stable economic growth and high employment rates.

Inter alia, this is a tacit admission that the West’s wealth has been built to a significant degree on the basis of extraction from the developing world. The “good old days” were when Europe and North America were rich and Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean were poor and subordinate 

What was the material foundation of these good old days? It was colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the brutal underdevelopment of Africa, the Opium Wars, and more. The expansionism and systematic pillage during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries created a profoundly lopsided world, dominated by a handful of Western capitalist powers.

This cosy arrangement was disrupted by the October Revolution, which marked the beginning of a new era of world history. The construction of socialism in the Soviet Union, China, Korea, Vietnam, Eastern Europe and Cuba – and the mighty wave of anti-colonial liberation in the post-WWII period – brought about a profound transformation in global politics.

But the US and its allies have worked ceaselessly to undermine the socialist world and to impose neocolonial domination in those places where colonial rule had been dismantled. This is the context for the Cold War; for the Korean War, the Vietnam War; the overthrow of progressive governments from Indonesia to Grenada to Chile; the support for apartheid regimes in South Africa, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

Wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, along with several rounds of NATO expansion, were early episodes in the Project for a New American Century – the US proposal for consolidating and expanding its hegemony in the post-Soviet era. But China and other countries, particularly in the Global South, have been moving along a different trajectory, in pursuit of a multipolar, multilateral project, based on the principles of the UN Charter.

This strategy is directed toward lasting peace and worldwide sovereign development. Its manifestation in reality is clear enough: while the US is by far the world leader in military spending, military bases, wars of aggression, regime change operations, unilateral sanctions and economic coercion, China is the world leader in mutually-beneficial trade, infrastructure development, and renewable energy.

The Biden administration’s response to the rise of multipolarity has been to escalate the US-led new Cold War and to promote decoupling, dividing the world into two competing and exclusive blocs. While Biden has presented this division as being between democracies and autocracies, in reality the group he is trying to  establish is based on the George W Bush doctrine: you are either with us or against us.

The US created AUKUS last year – a group of countries united by shared whiteness and commitment to imperialism – in order to bolster the military encirclement of China. Meanwhile Washington has taken advantage of the crisis in Ukraine to recruit new members to NATO and attempt to weaken Russia by prolonging the conflict (a strategy that has certain parallels with the US’ role in Afghanistan in the 1980s). 

European powers in particular are being subjected to tremendous pressure to “decouple” from China and Russia, but such a decoupling doesn’t serve the interests of the people of Europe. It was therefore an assertion of political independence for Scholz to travel to Beijing in early November – the first visit to China by a Western head of state since the start of the pandemic, and just days after the close of the 20th National Congress of the CPC.

The trip took place in spite of the bitter criticism of certain Cold Warriors among the German political class, not to mention the rumblings of disapproval from Washington. But Scholz appears to have realised – as did his predecessor, Angela Merkel – that the days of unipolarity and hegemony are over.

Before leaving for Beijing, he stated bluntly that “China remains an important business and trading partner for Germany and Europe — we don’t want to decouple from it.”

Such a rupture in the transatlantic alliance is to be very much welcomed. The people of Europe and the world will only lose from any New Cold War or decoupling. The world’s future is multipolar and peaceful.

China is building an ecological civilisation

This is an expanded and update version of the 2019 article China leads the way in tackling climate breakdown. A concise summary of the current version was carried by the Morning Star on 19 November 2022.

We must strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection. We will be more conscientious in promoting green, circular, and low-carbon development. We will never again seek economic growth at the cost of the environment. (Xi Jinping)[1]

The cost of development

Few events in human history have resonated throughout the world as profoundly as the Chinese Revolution. Standing in Tiananmen Square on 1 October 1949, pronouncing the birth of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong said “the Chinese people have stood up”. In standing up, in building a modern socialist society and throwing off the shackles of feudalism, colonialism, backwardness, illiteracy and grinding poverty, China has blazed a trail for the entire Global South. Lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty has been described even by ardent capitalists as “the greatest leap to overcome poverty in history”.[2] The UN Development Programme (UNDP) describes China’s development as having produced “the most rapid decline in absolute poverty ever witnessed”.[3] It is an extraordinary accomplishment that all Chinese people now have secure access to food, housing, clothing, clean water, modern energy, education and healthcare.

In environmental terms, however, this progress has come at a cost. Just as economic development in Europe and the Americas was fuelled by the voracious burning of fossil fuels, China’s development has been built to a significant degree on ‘Old King Coal’, the most polluting and emissions-intensive of the fossil fuels. Two decades ago, coal made up around 80 percent of China’s energy mix. Environmental law expert Barbara Finamore notes that “coal, plentiful and cheap, was the energy source of choice, not just for power plants, but also for direct combustion by heavy industry and for heating and cooking in people’s homes.”[4]

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Video interview with Carlos Martinez: The Soviet Union, Socialist China, and the New Cold War

Carlos Martinez talks to Midwestern Marx about the conflict in Ukraine, NATO’s ongoing war against Russia, cultural development in the Soviet Union, the Soviet collapse, China’s role in combatting climate breakdown, the nature of China’s reform and opening up, the 20th National Congress of the CPC, and possibilities for the future of working class internationalism.

Manufacturing consent for the containment and encirclement of China

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. (Malcolm X)

The Western media is waging a systematic and ferocious propaganda war against China. In the court of Western public opinion, China stands accused of an array of terrifying crimes: conducting a genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang; wiping out democracy in Hong Kong; militarising the South China Sea; attempting to impose colonial control over Taiwan; carrying out a land grab in Africa; preventing Tibetans and Inner Mongolians from speaking their languages; spying on the good peoples of the democratic world; and more.

Australian scholar Roland Boer has characterised these accusations as “atrocity propaganda – an old anti-communist and indeed anti-anyone-who-does-not-toe-the-Western-line approach that tries to manufacture a certain image for popular consumption.” Boer observes that this propaganda serves to create an impression of China as a brutal authoritarian dystopia which “can only be a fiction for anyone who actually spends some time in China, let alone lives there.”[1]

It’s not difficult to understand why China would be subjected to this sort of elaborate disinformation campaign. This media offensive is part of the imperialist world’s ongoing attempts to reverse the Chinese Revolution, to subvert Chinese socialism, to weaken China, to diminish its role in international affairs and, as a result, to undermine the global trajectory towards multipolarity and a future free from hegemonism. As journalist Chen Weihua has pointed out, “the reasons for the intensifying US propaganda war are obvious: Washington views a fast-rising China as a challenge to its primacy around the world.” Furthermore, “the success of a country with a different political system is unacceptable to politicians in Washington.”[2]

Continue reading Manufacturing consent for the containment and encirclement of China

Interview with Carlos Martinez: The US aims to weaken Russia and further its long-term project of containing China

Carlos Martinez talks to Papagiotis Papadomanolakis of the The Press Project about the conflict in Ukraine, the persistent attempts by the US to divide Russia and China, and the rise of a multipolar world. The interview took place in English and was first published in Greek.

Our discussion is taking place while a special military operation is taking place to denazify and demilitarize the Kiev regime, which came to power with the support of Washington and the neo-Nazis. How is the current conflict in Ukraine linked to the broader strategy of the United States against a multipolar world?

The US has been escalating the conflict in Ukraine in a very cynical way. If it were in the slightest bit interested in ending tensions and establishing a stable peace in Europe, it would have encouraged the Kiev government to implement the Minsk Agreements and to respect the legitimate national rights of the ethnolinguistically Russian section of the Ukrainian population, particularly in Donbas. It would furthermore have stated explicitly that Ukraine would not be invited to join NATO – as opposed to saying, as President Biden did in December 2021, that “the decision on Ukraine’s accession to NATO is the decision of the Ukrainian people.”

Instead, the US has actively fomented tensions in order to consolidate its geopolitical hegemony over Europe. The US and its allies provided significant resources for the Maidan coup in 2014, because they understood that the Maidan leadership was unambiguously pro-West and anti-Russian in orientation, unlike the Yanukovych government, which aimed to have good relations with both Russia and the West.

The US in particular has been vehemently opposed to a federal solution to the crisis in Southeastern Ukraine, as this would potentially give Donetsk and Lugansk veto power over Ukraine joining NATO and becoming fully inserted into the US’s so-called rules-based international order. That’s how the national oppression of the peoples of the Donbas became a question of geostrategic significance; that’s the basis for the tactical alliance that’s been formed between the US, its supposedly liberal friends in Kyiv and Lvov, and the assorted ‘ultranationalist’ (that is, fascist) militia that have been waging a campaign of terror for the last eight years.

Continue reading Interview with Carlos Martinez: The US aims to weaken Russia and further its long-term project of containing China

BRICS indispensable for the collective interests of developing countries

The following article by Carlos Martinez is a slightly expanded version of a piece written for Global Times and published on 20 June 2022.


The 14th BRICS Summit, to be held virtually on 24 June, comes at a crucial moment, as the US is escalating and expanding its New Cold War. While waging a proxy war in Ukraine with a view to inflicting a heavy blow against Russia, the US and its allies are also stepping up their anti-China rhetoric, recklessly undermining the One China principle, sending warships and spy planes to Chinese waters and airspace, and reviving their despicable slanders about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

The Ukraine crisis has exposed important fault-lines in the so-called rules-based international order. The US has been able to persuade its European and Anglo-Saxon allies to impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia – at significant cost to ordinary people in those countries, who now face a cost of living crisis that threatens to drive millions into poverty. These sanctions, and the provision of heavy weaponry to Kyiv, are aimed not at resolving the conflict but prolonging it.

However, most countries of the developing world have rejected the West’s strategy of division and escalation. China’s principled opposition to unilateral sanctions and its emphasis on a negotiated solution to the crisis are well known. India, which the US has long sought to cultivate as a stable ally and stalking horse against China, has also been firm in its opposition to sanctions against Russia. South African president Cyril Ramaphosa incurred the wrath of the Western media when he stated the blunt truth that the Ukraine war was primarily a result of NATO expansion. Even Brazil, while tending under its current government to side with the US, is taking a position of neutrality in relation to Ukraine.

Continue reading BRICS indispensable for the collective interests of developing countries

China’s long war on poverty

In late 2020, the Chinese government announced that its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2021 (the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China) had been met. At the start of the targeted poverty alleviation program in 2014, just under 100 million people were identified as living below the poverty line; seven years later, the number was zero.

To eradicate extreme poverty in a developing country of 1.4 billion people – which at the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 was one of the poorest countries in the world, characterised by widespread malnutrition, illiteracy, foreign domination and technological backwardness – is without doubt “the greatest anti-poverty achievement in history”, in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.1

What does it mean to not suffer extreme poverty in China? The most easily measurable aspect is having a daily income higher than the World Bank-defined international poverty line of 1.90 USD per day. But according to the Chinese government’s definition, a person can be considered to have left extreme poverty only if the “two assurances and three guarantees” have been met.2 The two assurances are for adequate food and clothing; the three guarantees are for access to medical services, safe housing with drinking water and electricity, and at least nine years of free education. Meanwhile, the land ownership system in China means that the rural poor have rent-free access to land and housing – putting them in a very different category to the rural poor elsewhere in the world.

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No to a new Monroe Doctrine in the Pacific

This article by Carlos Martinez first appeared on Friends of Socialist China.

The Anglo ruling classes have gone into a state of frenzy over a recently-signed security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands. Various people who had barely heard of the Solomon Islands just a few weeks ago are now expressing grave concern that this small sovereign nation could be used as a pawn by an aggressive and expansionist China in its bid for world domination.

The deal itself appears to be entirely ordinary, allowing for China to “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in the Solomon Islands,” in addition to providing the Solomon Islands police with training and – on invitation – support. Indeed, the Solomon Islands already has similar security cooperation arrangements with Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Fiji; as such, the deal with China simply represents a desire to “seek greater security partnership with other partners and neighbours.”

Responding to criticism of the deal by Australian and US politicians, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare assured that it was signed “with our eyes wide open, guided by our national interests”, and that it has been developed not as a means of power projection but of addressing the island nation’s security needs.

Nonetheless, Western politicians and media have reacted with an anxiety bordering on the hysterical. Indeed the Australian government made repeated attempts to prevent the deal being signed in the first place, and its failure has prompted bitter recrimination. Allan Gyngell from the Australian Institute of International Affairs commented to BBC News that “the objective had to be to stop something like this happening. You can’t read it any other way – this is a failure of Australian diplomacy.” Meanwhile, opposition leader Anthony Albanese described Australia’s failure to prevent the agreement going through as “a massive foreign policy failure” and “a Pacific stuff-up”. The Australian Labor Party is now promising that it will “restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice in the Pacific” if it is successful in the coming federal elections.

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US leverages Ukraine crisis for NATO expansion, to push Europe further into chaos

The following article by Carlos Martinez, on the aggressive and expansionist nature of NATO and the importance of dismantling the military architecture of the New Cold War, is a slightly expanded version of an article originally published by Global Times on 15 April 2022.

NATO was formed in 1949, just four years after the end of World War II, to provide military infrastructure for the US-led Cold War alliance. Its existence allowed the positioning of American troops and weaponry in Europe, ready for rapid deployment against the Soviet Union and the newly formed People’s Democracies in Eastern and Central Europe.

NATO’s purported raison d’être was to protect its members from Soviet aggression and expansion. Yet when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991, there was no serious discussion about disbanding NATO. Indeed NATO only became more aggressive.

In 1999, NATO forces launched an illegal bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, bypassing the UN Security Council and committing numerous war crimes. Hospitals, schools and market places were targeted, and depleted uranium bombs were dropped. Notoriously, even the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was attacked, resulting in the death of three Chinese journalists.

Between 2001 and 2021, NATO led a sustained assault on Afghanistan, causing tens of thousands of civilian casualties, holding back the country’s development, and achieving precisely nothing of value for the Afghan people.

In 2003, NATO countries launched an illegal war on Iraq, resulting in the death of an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis. Then in 2011, stretching the definition of a ‘no-fly zone’ beyond the limits of imagination, NATO led a regime change operation in Libya, leaving the country in ruin and chaos.

Nobody can seriously argue that NATO is fundamentally defensive in character. It is an aggressive, nuclear alliance designed to enforce US hegemony.

Continue reading US leverages Ukraine crisis for NATO expansion, to push Europe further into chaos

Responsibility for Ukraine crisis lies in Washington and Kyiv, not Moscow

The following article by Carlos Martinez, giving an overview of the causes of the escalating crisis in Ukraine, was originally published by CGTN on 26 February 2022.

Contrary to the superficial analysis in much of the Western media, the escalating crisis in Ukraine is not a product of any psychopathology on the part of Vladimir Putin. Nor has it emerged out of thin air. It represents the culmination of a storm that has been brewing for many years.

There are two key components of this situation that are crucial to understand.

First is the issue of Russia’s security. During talks with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his team about the reunification of Germany in 1989-90, Western leaders made firm commitments that NATO would not seek to extend its borders eastward and that Russia’s legitimate security concerns would be taken seriously. Yet in the event, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has commented, “the U.S. drove five waves of NATO expansion eastward all the way to Russia’s doorstep and deployed advanced offensive strategic weapons,” in a clear breach of the commitments made by George HW Bush and Helmut Kohl. Since the 1990s, 14 states in Central and Eastern Europe have joined NATO.

Continue reading Responsibility for Ukraine crisis lies in Washington and Kyiv, not Moscow