The US-China Trade War Can be Traced Back to the Failed Tiananmen Square Color Revolution

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The current “trade war” owes its origins to the US’ failed Tiananmen Square Color Revolution that convinced the Chinese authorities that their late-Old Cold War-era American “allies” couldn’t be trusted, which in turn inspired the Communist Party to use the US’ own international trade rules against it in the emerging era of globalization in order to eventually surpass their new “frenemy”.

There’s been a lot of hype in the international media this year commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square events, which are portrayed in the West as a “brave student-led democratic uprising” that was “brutally suppressed” by the “tyrannical Chinese communist regime”. The narrative is that thousands of students were peacefully protesting for “greater rights and freedoms” just like their counterparts had begun to do by that year in practically every socialist country worldwide, but the authorities “felt threatened” by this challenge to their rule and therefore ordered the military to “savagely kill all the demonstrators”. The infamous photo of a lone protester standing in front of a column of tanks mythologized this version of events, but the problem is that the storyline that’s now taken for granted worldwide isn’t all that true.

There’s no doubt that there were massive student-led demonstrations taking place in Beijing throughout the first part of 1989, but a leaked US diplomatic cable from the time released by Wikileaks in 2011 and first published by the UK’s Daily Telegraph proves that the military didn’t “massacre” the protesters like the rest of the world has been misled to believe.

The source also recounts how a Chilean diplomat confirmed that the majority of the armed forces that intervened in the square actually weren’t “armed” at all, at least not in the sense of having firearms, because he reported that they were mostly only equipped with standard anti-riot gear like truncheons and wooden clubs. Some people were indeed killed during the clashes, but those were terrorists who attacked military forces and even killed some servicemen. It’s the deaths of those terrorists, however, which were deliberately exaggerated by the West and perverted into the narrative of “mass student killings by the military”.

A photo of Pu Zhiqiang, a student protester at Tiananmen, taken on 10 May 1989. The Chinese words written on the paper say, “We want freedom of newspapers, freedom of associations, also to support the ‘World Economic Herald’, and support those just journalists.” (Source: CC BY 2.5)

Upon closer examination, the Tiananmen Square events were actually a Color Revolution attempt just like the many others that would later mature elsewhere in the socialist world by later that year, with there being no doubt that the vast majority of the participants in every case were well-intended peaceful participants but that their political movements were exploited by foreign actors for regime change purposes that also included the use of violent provocations like the ones that took place in other parts of Beijing during the military’s intervention. The US succeeded in almost every one of its attempts to overthrow socialist governments from within through this cutting-edge Hybrid War strategy, except of course for China’s, though the very fact that the People’s Republic was targeted at all must have been somewhat surprising to it.

The Sino-Soviet split was masterfully weaponized in the most powerful geostrategic sense by Kissinger after Nixon convinced China to ally with the US against the Soviet Union in the late-Old Cold War era. In exchange for risking nuclear war between the two formerly friendly communist nations, China would receive billions of dollars of American investment for modernizing its economy, which combined with the Communist Party’s responsible management of these resources to become the world’s fastest-ever poverty-alleviation program. The Chinese therefore felt betrayed by the US’ cunning Color Revolution attempt against them and henceforth resolved to use America’s own international trade rules against it in the emerging era of globalization, which gradually led to the economic imbalance between the two Great Powers that ultimately inspired Trump’s “trade war“.

Had the US not backstabbed China, then it’s very possible that the two could have cooperated in ruling the world after the end of the Old Cold War, but that was impossible to do after the Tiananmen Square Color Revolution because the Communist Party no longer trusted the American authorities. Having committed to ensuring that it’s never betrayed again, China started taking advantage of globalization and preparing for what would later be the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) for revolutionizing International Relations by midwifing the birth of the emerging Multipolar World Order to replace the US’ fading unipolar one that arose after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. It’s this ongoing process that the US presently seeks to sabotage by all means possible, but it probably wouldn’t even have this colossal problem on its hands to begin with had it not betrayed China in the first place.

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Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.


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Articles by: Andrew Korybko

About the author:

Andrew Korybko est le commentateur politique étasunien qui travaille actuellement pour l’agence Sputnik. Il est en troisième cycle de l’Université MGIMO et auteur de la monographie Guerres hybrides: l’approche adaptative indirecte pour un changement de régime(2015).

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