The Invisible Armada

President Tsai Ing-wen posing as a pilot of a Taiwanese F-16

“The hatred of China is what, in the present, takes the place of strategic thinking for Western elites”

An interview with Alain Brossat

12 June 2022

Q: There is a lot of talk at the moment about Taiwan, in the French press, about the threats of an imminent Chinese invasion...

A: It has indeed become a haunting motif in mainstream "narratives" both on the island and in Cold War propaganda in the Global North - " the China's threat" or Chinese threat , in its original version. Other things being equal, this reminds me of that famous speech Hitler gave at the beginning of World War II, in which he uses this language: If the world Jewish conspiracy persists in its attacks against our country and the Nazi regime, then the Jews of Germany and elsewhere could well have to pay a high price for it... What obviously had to be heard was exactly the opposite: behind the imaginary "Jewish conspiracy" loomed the very real implementation of the extermination of the Jews of Europe by the Nazi regime. It is, I believe, under the same sign of the projection onto the other of the speaker's worst intentions that the perpetual incantations about the "Chinese threat" which would weigh on Taiwan in particular and, by extension, are placed throughout the whole region, on the Pacific, on the "freedom of the seas", on democracy and human rights on a planetary scale: if you really want to know what the imperialist democrats of today have in mind, listen carefully to what they say all the time about the evil intentions of the new devouring power of China.

In the case of Taiwan, the thing is quite distinct: the island, an advanced bastion, in the China Sea, of the West and above all of the United States power, master of the Pacific since the defeat of Japan, has this vocation, in the event of an armed confrontation with China (and whose scenario furnishes more and more openly the imagination of the most frenetic activists of the "free world"): to become the platform from which the reconquest of the Chinese continent lost in 1949 would happen. The generals of the Kuomintang, having withdrawn on the island from 1949, produced tirelessly, as long as they believed they had a chance of taking their revenge on the Chinese Communist Party, a number of geological Survey maps of the Taiwan Strait on which were drawn large red arrows indicating the axes of the maritime and air reconquest of Chinese territory. It is now virtual copies of these maps that populate the unbridled imagination of those who dream of a “democratization” of China and its regime by taking the path of an armed operation. This clearly shows, by the way, that (contrary to what they are trying to accredit with blows of horns and trumpets) the current "independence" leaders of the island are walking in the footsteps of the Generalissimo (Chiang Kai Chek), as now increasingly servile clients of the United States. It's not for nothing, I imagine that almost each morning there appears in the island press a burlesque photo of the frail Madame Tsai, the President and once a fan of Trump, sometimes posing as a fighter pilot, as a soldier of the marine infantry, at the controls of an armored vehicle, playing to be a soldier with a trial rocket launcher, spotting an imaginary enemy from the deck of a vessel of the Taiwanese Navy, etc. The message is clear: the island must be militarized to the limit, the preparation of the population for general mobilization must be accelerated, so that it becomes, when the time has come, this “rock solid” aircraft carrier intended to serve as strategic relay to offensive operations against the People's Republic of China [1]. Here, the rapprochement with Ukraine takes on its full meaning – Taiwan as an advanced base, in Eastern Asia, of a Reconquista whose brilliant results can be seen today in Eastern Europe...[2]

Q: So you categorically deny that China has any intention of intervening militarily against Taiwan...

A: Things are not that simple. I see two conditions which, necessarily, I would say almost mechanically, would lead China to adopt massive retaliatory measures, in the form of armed intervention or not: on the one hand, a proclamation of the island's independence, a knowingly accomplished fact produced on the occasion of a situation deemed favorable; or, on the other hand, as long advocated by the sinister Pompeo, Trump's former foreign policy chief, formal recognition of the island as a sovereign power, followed by the establishment of diplomatic ties by the United States and, no doubt, in the process, by most Western powers or tributaries of the United States.

Whether one or the other option prevails, it is clear and distinct that this would be a deliberate disruption of the fragile balances maintained in the region, despite all, since the end of the Chinese Civil War; and, therefore, those who would initiate these fait accomplis would bear full responsibility for their consequences, which could prove irreparable – a kind of state remake of the assassination of the Austrian Grand Duke in Sarajevo...

For both historical and domestic political reasons, the Chinese leadership could not afford, faced with such a challenge, to turn around and lose face. The Western powers know perfectly well that in both cases this would be a casus belli and if they risked it despite everything, as their "hawks" are already encouraging them to do, they would deliberately and in full knowledge of the facts, either because they would consider that China would evade the announced confrontation (the kind of calculation that Hitler made, successfully, when he invaded Czechoslovakia), or that the opportunity would then be given to inflict on him a lesson intended to reshuffle the cards, on both the regional and global scale, thanks to a smoothly conducted military campaign (on the model of the victorious campaigns led by Japan against China of the Qing (1895) and Imperial Russia (1905).

It is impossible to predict what kind of response China would have to such a gamble, the idea of which itches the reptilian brains of today's total-democracy crusaders - military outright or, to begin with, at least, diplomatic, economic massive retaliatory measures – or even a combination of all of these...

The only thing that can be said without taking any risk is that these countermeasures would be massive and that their chaining to the provocation perpetrated by the fanatics of the reconquest would plunge the entire region into a cataclysm with unimaginable consequences.

The low option, in the minds of "democratic" recolonization activists, is the lesson inflicted on China, intended to "put it back in its place" for many years, thanks to a limited conflict, of short time. The high option, more and more openly advocated by crusader preachers, is the overthrow of the regime, its fall caused by a military defeat combined with internal disorder - the fall of the regime, the disappearance of the sovereignty resulting from the Chinese Revolution and the victory of the Communists over the KMT – on the model of the fall of the USSR, the disappearance of the German Democratic Republic. Which, given the history of China, almost inevitably means its break-up and dismemberment.

When we go to the very end of a "normalizing" and restorationist project like the one that is bubbling in the brains of the warmongers of the moment, those of the anti-totalitarian crusade, we always come across the same passion: that of erasing what remains of the effects, traces, of the route drawn by a revolution: the Russian revolution of 1917 in the first case, the Chinese revolution in the second.

Q: What is at stake today in the tensions between the United States and China?

A: This is a much larger problem than the growing rivalry between two major political and economic powers. We must take the full measure of what the unleashing of animosity and resentment towards China in the discourse of the West is the symptom of. I know very well that the formula "discourse of the West" will appear too vague and generalizing here. But what leads to resorting to it, however, is the flawless or almost flawless homogeneity of what is stated on the background, so to speak, with regard to China today in the global West, the unqualified compactness of what the factories of institutional discourse produce there, whether at the level of governments, in the press and media, academic and supposedly scholarly channels, etc. It is no exaggeration to say that hatred of China is, in the present, what has come to take the place of strategic thought for the Western elites. This debauchery, this proliferation of incriminations, denunciations, incantations intended to assign China the place of the bad object of world geopolitics, that of the authoritarian and totalitarian cancer, of the conquering moloch, etc. This hatred of China in all its forms has become, in Western discourse, such a powerful matrix and such a haunting motive that one would almost suspect that it is the last expedient by which global democracy still manages to maintain a semblance of consistency and unity – in the face of the enemy, the puppet Putin appearing basically only as the intermediary of the only real obstacle on the way to the establishment of the total-democratic world government – China.

The Sinophobia that is given free rein today in all the hotbeds where the hegemonist narrative is concocted thrives on an unbridled imagination, untied from all reality, and whose equivalent could be, in the field of collective delusions that are familiar to us, anti-Boche hatred as it flourished in France at the start of the First World War. But as we immediately see, we have changed scale...

It is a discursive production which is based, first of all, on the most simplistic and fallacious of dichotomies: the opposition between democracy and autocracy, liberal societies and authoritarian and totalitarian systems. Under the regime of this frenzied binarism, all reality fades away: the fact that China managed to stem the Covid pandemic while it killed a million people in the United States and, in general, produced immense damage in the spaces of global democracy (at least 200,000 deaths in France, for example) becomes, under the conditions of this paranoid discourse, proof of the intrinsic totalitarianism of the Chinese regime. The biopolitical exception that presents itself there, when the regime in place really takes charge of the protection of the lives of populations, becomes, under the conditions of the prevailing Sinophobia in the West, the evidence that attests to the criminal nature of the regime – we saw it again very recently when the authorities decided to reconfine Shanghai – but what would we not have heard if they had let it go and that tens of thousands of deaths had then been recorded there?

In Taiwan, the authorities decided, in the context of Omicron, to abandon the "zero covid" strategy and, very quickly, the figure of one hundred deaths per day was exceeded. For demographic reasons in particular, this is obviously a “luxury” that the Chinese authorities cannot afford – so they maintain the same line consisting, here, of putting the health of the population before that of the economy. It is perhaps this, moreover, that cannot be forgiven, in the first place, for the Western doctrinaires of the liberal economy – a growth rate to be regained, isn't that worth a few tens of thousands of human lives?

Q: How to problematize the relationship that you believe would be established between the rise of China and this flight into the imagination of Western discourse about it?

A: China, as a figure of both molar and radical otherness, has always been, for the West, a source of imaginary proliferations and projections, a machine for dreaming, fantasizing, nightmaring, delirious, etc. Before the Jesuits established in China, from the 17th century, and became a source of rich and documented information, China was a kind of blank page on which the West projected all kinds of phantasmagoria, based on the stories of more or less imaginary or biased travellers. Things change deeply when the interactions between the West and the "extreme East" intensify in the 19th century with European colonization, which, in China, takes on a particularly predatory form, even if different from that which prevailed in other areas. But the imaginary powers do not fade away, from Fu Manchu to the leftist Maolatry of the 1970s, closer to us. Both positive and negative imaginary powers, one will notice, oscillating between the poles of fascination and repulsion.

What therefore characterizes the present (and fiercely presentist) regime of the Western imagination of China is its massive overturning under the conditions of a horror nourished by the fantasy or the fixed idea of the conquest of the world by a China-Behemoth, which in a few decades has become a superpower whose progress nothing could stop or satiate the appetite for conquest. China's ambition is to “kick the Americans out of the Pacific”, stated a supposed specialist, in the most obvious tone, when Beijing concludes a modest agreement on police assistance with a micro-state located off the coast of Australia[3]. Take a look at a map of the Pacific, see the positions respectively occupied by the United States, its allies and clients - and China, and you will see that we are still a long way off...

Suddenly, this discursive matrix becomes a machine in madness on automatic pilot. The drastic social, political and ideological curbing undertaken by the regime in Xinjiang, a region mainly populated by foreigners supposedly mined by autonomist or separatist temptations, is quickly and massively designated (by what must be called Western propaganda adorned with all names and all legitimacies) like "genocide". The regime is accused of forbidding access to anyone who might collect on the spot information suitable for documenting the terrible accusation – genocide is not, in principle, a term that is liable to be overused... But when the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations makes a trip there, it is immediately an outcry that rises: it is that this journey can only constitute a gross manipulation remotely guided by the Beijing despots...! But it is above all that Madame Bachelet is not necessarily prepared to align herself, her finger on the seam of her trousers, with the rhetoric of paper genocide fed day after day by the minister of total-democratic globalized propaganda, Adrian Zenz... In any case and whatever we do, everything is placed under the regime of self-fulfilling prophecies: you can clearly see that the Chinese are committing genocide in Xinjiang – since Madame Bachelet, who, notoriously, eats from the hand of the tyrant Xi, doesn't talk about it! You can clearly see that the Covid-19 virus was concocted in a military laboratory in Wuhan – since the Chinese authorities have so far been so adept at making the traces of the crime so undetectable, etc.

Q: But the substance of the matter, it would therefore remain the rise to power of China ?

A: Obviously. But we have to agree on what we mean by that. What is at stake here is not the conquest of the world to which China would aspire, but the prospect of the end of Western hegemony, that is to say the appearance of a truly multipolar world – which is quite different. What is specific to the perceptions of China that prevail today in the West is, as I said, their frenzied presentism, their total sticking to the present perceived under the conditions of the most vulgar of the imperialist-universalist doxas of Western democracy. The Hong Kong affair was a perfect example from this point of view: the exaltation of the supposed heroic fight of Hong Kong youth for the defense of democratic gains in the former English colony, against the ferocious normalizing and autocratic appetites of Beijing bureaucracy, obviously had as a condition the obliteration of any historical perspective on what was at stake: the re-establishment of Chinese sovereignty over this enclave whose status resulted from a characteristic act of colonial and imperial banditry. After all, it is not entirely for nothing that Hong Kong democracy fanatics have begun waving British and American flags, democracy and Western neo-colony becoming, in their eyes, inseparable as the most obscure object of desire...

However, this hysterical presentism is the general regime under which is placed the perception of all the supposed turpitudes, attributed in the West to the Chinese regime. It suffices, however, to take a slight step back from history, without even going to consider the history of Chinese civilization from the angle of the very long duration, to grasp what is exceptional, positively, about the present sequence – a unified China, in its own space, sovereign, having imposed respect on its close and less close neighbors, having implemented a development model with impressive results, a China at peace, without warlords or famine, without creeping or declared civil war, assured within its borders, etc. Of course, when I say "positively" here, I am going in broad strokes and there would be grounds for objection on more than one point if we wanted to go into detail - starting with the model of economic development that has led China to the prosperity it is currently experiencing and which I know perfectly well is neither virtuous nor sustainable...

But what I mean is that if you think about the overall scale of China's long history, the current moment does indeed stand as a happy exception – and that, the Chinese themselves are the first to perceive it - this is the reason why, in spite of everything, the regime is infinitely more popular there than are the rulers in any Western democracy. However, I believe that it is there, precisely, that the shoe pinches, on the side of Western perceptions: basically, what the white West has grown accustomed to liking, what reassures it and reinforces it in its hegemonic presumptions and supremacism, is a China in misfortune, a weak and divided China, a China-to-complain and possibly to-assist - as seen in countless films inspired by the good heart of Hollywood, at the time of the Sino-Japanese war, displaying the good works of all sorts of North American Quakers busying themselves with relieving the misery of the destitude Chinese peasants...

And here is that this miserable and suffering China has, as a French observer of China once said, not only "awakened", but metamorphosed into an ascending power, this at the very moment when the signs of the decline of the West are multiplying... But it is not only economic and political power that is in question here – what is returning to the picture of the world, with this rise, is also a great civilization, the Chinese civilization which, as some of us still remember, that, until at least the Renaissance, preceded European civilization in more ways than one. And it is on this historical and mental threshold that Western “consciousness” gets dizzy, disoriented as it is, but still as full or itself as ever and less ready than ever to let go...

What could a radically de-Western-centric world be like in which China, the Chinese world, would occupy a leading place without in any way replacing the West as a hegemonic composition of forces, a world somehow dehegemonized, arranged around multiple and heterogeneous poles? – this is certainly a figure of the future in the form of a donkey bridge that the Western imagination cannot cross.

The reptilian brain of the West is so made that it cannot dissociate the notion of the rise of China, that of the increase in its power, of its multifaceted expansion (Silk Roads, military establishments at the South China Sea...), of the repulsive image and the intolerable figure of a pure and simple will to substitute its hegemony and its supremacy for that of the global West, in exactly the same forms and in a purely mimetic mode.

But it is here perhaps that it would be appropriate to remind this those who spend their time waving this windbag before the eyes of Western opinion in a state of stupefaction: never, in the course of its long history, has China projected itself to the four corners of the planet, and on the predatory and destructive mode that was relentlessly enacted since the beginning of modern times, by the Western powers. China, which is quite different and of course refers to the succession of barbarian invasions and conquests (Mongols, Manchus, etc.), is obsessed with the fragility of its borders, the porosity of its territory and the specter of the fragmentation of its unity, always conceived, it is true, in a traditionally imperial mode. This is why it values its thick borders and glacis, variably populated by foreigners, because these are buffer zones that it considers vital for its safety and integrity. Moreover, in its long duration, it shows a propensity to assimilate the close "barbarian", considered as civilizable, that is to say capable of assimilating the fundamentals of Chinese culture. This is exactly what Xi's China continues to do in Xinjiang and it is called heavy and brutal assimilationism, but certainly not genocide.

What complicates matters today is that under the conditions of the present, the great power that it has become must establish itself in its own great space. As Carl Schmitt has perfectly shown, starting from the example of the rise of American power, there could be no great power in the contemporary world without Grossraum, great space. However, under the present economic, logistical, political and military conditions, such a projection outside its borders could not be carried out, in the Nazi way (the expansion towards the Slavic lands of Eastern Europe), on the mainland, a priori. It is the maritime expanse which has today become its natural environment and this is the reason why the South China Sea and, more generally, the Pacific, are and will increasingly be the most painful point of contention (and the most dangerous) between China and the United States. But this need for China to extricate itself from its confinement on the continental Festland does not in any way mean that it intends to make the Pacific its Mare Nostrum by driving the United States out of it – a nightmare tailor-made by the proponents of the end of history - as if the balance of power resulting, in this region of the world, from the defeat of Japan were encrusted in the marble of eternity. China, no less than the United States, has a vocation to become a great maritime power, to have its full place in the Pacific, its bases, its relays, its friends and its glacis and that is what it is dedicated to today, very actively, without this in any way implying that it is preparing to drive the United States out of Okinawa and Hawaii. The apocalyptic discourse that is current in the West today, in this regard, has only one destination: to accredit the fable of an intangibility of the Pax Americana in this region of the world, as if it had been established by divine decree – and as if it hadn't aged a bit in time! But things are changing, new dynamics are at work, History—that of relations between peoples, States, civilizations—is open.

However, the problem is that for the West, the end of its hegemony and its centrality is the end of the world . Hence the proliferation of apocalyptic images about the rise of China, and with them, self-fulfilling predictions - by dint of raising the mayonnaise of the "Chinese threat", what it is all about is much of a conditioning of Western opinions in order to prepare them for the prospect of an "inevitable" confrontation with China. However, if this confrontation takes place, it is because the Western powers, led by the United States, will have wanted it and will have prepared the conditions for it. Rather war with its full share of imponderables than a world whose conditions they no longer regulate. It is this mental and ideological “wall” which today obstructs the historical horizon.

Q: You mentioned above the words "crusaders", "crusade" about the current Sinophobia. What do you mean ?

A: Obviously, these are loaded words since, to my knowledge, it was Bin Laden and his friends who put them back into circulation in the context of their armed campaigns against the United States and its allies. However, these terms do not lose any of their relevance today. What matters here is the indissoluble link that is established in Western discourse and the actions that are arranged there between what is presented as the sacredness of the motive and the violence of the means implemented – all against the backdrop of a flight into the imaginary. The perception of reality is puffed up by fantasy and it leads to delirium. The sacredness of the motif, at the time of the successive crusades, is the liberation of the Holy Places of Christianity, of the land where Jesus experienced his Passion, places occupied and desecrated by heretics. Today, the sacredness of the motif is the promotion, against all odds, in a world from which all legitimate reverse shots have disappeared, of Universal Democracy. Taiwan, like Ukraine, are becoming holy places for believers of democratic religion. In both cases, the more the motive is sacred and intangible, the more the reserve of violence that it authorizes is unlimited. This is the reason why the rise of tensions in the China Sea and around Taiwan has caused the Western discourse to break the lock constituted by the ban on nuclear war. We talk about it now, in the “fictions” that are proliferating around a possible confrontation in this space, in a tone that is intended to be realistic, almost calm, as one option among others. The worst are these neo-nationalist and revanchist Japanese elites (today in business) and who now calmly consider either that the United States have nuclear equipment on their soil, or, frankly, that their country acquires nuclear weaponry... When I say "revanchist", I mean against China, of course, not against the United States, whose the Japanese elites have been, since 1945, and remain, the most exemplary pets.

Yes, therefore, in this sense, the promoters of total democracy today belong indeed to the species of crusaders. They are carried away by a dream which overhangs them and which leads us, with them, towards the abyss. It's not just that they don't know what they're doing (which in no way disposes us to forgive them), it's that they drag the entire planet into their totalizing phantasmagoria. Seen by the Arabs, the Crusaders are above all looters and massacrers - see Amin Maalouf on the subject - pilgrims of nothingness. The crusades stink of death, all the crusades, those where the name of Democracy replaced the Cross of Christ same as the others. A crusade, let's not forget, is a movement of a crowd that begins with a sermon, an exhortation in the form of mobilization - we are right in the middle of it, today, even if the "preachers" are not all of them popes or kings... we live in the democratic age, after all...

[1]If the apoliticism and consumerist futility of youth are so conscientiously nurtured in Taiwan, if the student world there is so constantly infantilized, it is distinctly with the aim of preparing these young people to become the soft dough from which will be made, when time comes, cannon fodder. The prospect of total mobilization passes through this type of derealizing conditioning.

[2]The fascination that the State of Israel exerts on the political, media and even academic elites of Taiwan speaks volumes about the fantasies with which their dreams of grandeur are populated: their model here is a "small State" equipped with the right of conquest, based on an uninhibited racial supremacism and, of course, assured of the unfailing support of the United States... "Israel's formidable military strength is an admirable model for Taiwan to survive in this turbulent environment", thus recently wrote in all candor a certain Eric Chiou, associate professor at the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (Taipei Times, 06/9/2022) – the kind of colleague I would rather break my leg than have to cross his way on the campus...

[3]"China's goal is to kick the United States out of the Pacific", interview with Cleo Paskal, "Canadian researcher associated with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies", Le Monde of 06/3/2022. It will be noted on this occasion that in their frenzy of alignment on anti-Chinese propaganda, the supposedly serious newspapers now systematically summon supposed academic authorities who are only professional lobbyists. As its name suggests, the "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies" is not a university-type research center but a propagandist den and the "researchers" who work there are intellectual mercenaries whose relevant works are not mentioned by the newspaper – and for good reason. The most caricatural example of this breach by the press of the most basic ethical rules is the way in which all the discourse on the Uighur "genocide" constantly amplified by the newspapers is based on a single source - Adrian Zenz, a fundamentalist Christian active in the service of a Foundation dedicated to the fight against communism. This slide of the media, consisting in legitimizing as scientific authority the employees of the factories of anti-Chinese (or Russian) narratives, is a forfeiture and a breach of trust with the public. It is now the media that arrange the discourse of supposed specialists – what disappears in this process is the independence of research, as a body and authority, and with it, the public's respect for knowledge.