The Danger Is Not China But the Fake China Threat

At times a book is convincing not only because its arguments are sound but also because of the author’s identity.  It would be no surprise to encounter a book penned by a socialist or Sinophile that takes on the false portrait of China that graces the US media.  But Joseph Solis-Mullen, the author of The Fake China Threat And Its Very Real Danger, is neither socialist nor Sinophile.

Solis-Mullen is a libertarian in the mold of Randolph Bourne and Justin Raimondo. Hence, he is classified as a conservative in our impoverished political taxonomy.  But his book is not written to appeal to people of any single political outlook.  It is written with only one thing in mind, the interest of the American people and, dare I say, of humanity in general, China included.  Hence it is of great utility for people across the political spectrum who sense that our people are being hoodwinked by fake China threats.  It may answer your questions on China or those of your friends in ways understandable to the average American.

The Fake China Threat is ubiquitous – and dangerous

Solis-Mullens explains the purpose and scope of the fake China Threat as follows:

“On the one hand, (the fake China Threat) serves as a legitimating device, a new reason for continually climbing defense budgets… and for the continued meddling… in the affairs of other states…

“On the other hand, the fake China Threat serves as a convenient scapegoat for the end results of the bad policies that Washington has itself authored and for decades pursued.  America deindustrialized?  China’ fault.  Millions of Americans hooked on drugs? China’s fault.  The Saudis and Iranians don’t want the Americans around anymore? China’s fault.  Et cetera.”

“There is one element of truth to the fake China Threat, however; the existence of an independent China (or Russia) is a threat to Washington’s accustomed ability to do more or less whatever it wants, wherever it wants.  But the existence of an independent China is already a fact.  Refusal on the part of Washington to accept it will cause more than theoretical problems, and therein lies the real danger. “ (Italics, jw)

To remedy that “real danger” is the purpose of this book as the author explains in these words:

“So built up in the imagination of many Americans has been the threat China allegedly poses to them and their families, that the determined opponent of the fake China Threat must venture onto the tiresome grounds of so-called ‘Great Power competition.’  He must then make estimations of relative power that, as it happens, largely buttress the case against Washington doing anything other than seeking normal relations with Beijing… The purpose of this book is to put in one place and in concise form the arguments why the interests of the American people are not served by confrontation with China.  The task is an urgent one.”

Solis-Mullen succeeds on all counts in that task. The book is indeed concise, a mere 65 pages, albeit in small print, and with extensive footnotes to satisfy the reader seeking more evidence or deeper understanding.

History, empathy, the military, and the economy

The author begins with a capsule history of Sino-US relations, really an account of the West’s interaction with China beginning in the early 19th Century and leading to a century of colonial exploitation and oppression which the Chinese refer to as the Hundred Years of Humiliation. Next, he proceeds to a view of how Beijing sees the world, in other words an attempt to see the world as our official enemies do, one of the main requisites for a peaceful world, all too often forgotten by would be champions of peace.  And he returns to these themes later in the book with a quick review of “Chinese Foreign Policy Historically.” One truth that emerges from this treatment is that China’s development of its military is reactive rather than aggressive, the result of the Century of Humiliation and the latest buildup of US forces ringing China since Obama launched his Pivot to Asia in 2011 which successor administrations have built on and developed further. The way to peace one concludes is to stop poking the Panda lest it morph into a fire breathing Dragon.

A central question is taken up in a chapter entitled “China’s Internal Problems and External Constraints.”  The author argues, incorrectly I believe, that China’s demographics and geography put limits on its economic might.  But we have heard such arguments in the past and they always come up short; China keeps surprising the pundits of the West.  But Solis-Mullen argues that both his pessimistic view of China’s economic prospects and my optimistic view are irrelevant when it comes to America’s course of action.

Either China is very strong, he says, “in which case antagonizing China over issues directly in its backyard is stupid; or actually China is quite weak in which case antagonizing China in its backyard is unnecessary and counterproductive.” He continues, “In any event is hard to hard to imagine how the life of the average American would be improved by courting conflict with China, while it is quite easy to imagine countless ways in which it could be made worse.”

The Uyghurs

One of the most powerful sections of the book is chapter 8, “Uyghurs, Genocides and Realities,” where the Uyghur “genocide” hoax is debunked.  One need only visit Xinjiang, home of the Uyghurs, and compare it to Gaza, to see that the charge of genocide is wildly off the mark.  It is easy to do this since China is encouraging tourism in Xinjiang.  Most notably, Solis-Mullen points out, the UN has not charged China with genocide despite entreaties from the US.  And the US State Department seems to have dropped the term, at least for now.  Most satisfyingly, the work of Adrian Zenz, who has provided much of the “documentation” to justify the charge of genocide, is called out.  Zenz, Solis-Mullen informs us, is “a German anthropologist of frankly questionable scholastic character and fitness,” citing as evidence the excellent work of Max Blumenthal and Gareth Porter at The Grayzone. (See also the articles by Ajit Singh here.).  The Uyghur genocide hoax makes for an excellent case history instructing us on how false narratives are constructed to advance anti-China sentiment.  The chapter “Who Writes About the Fake China Threat and Why” adds more to the picture.

Solis-Mullen’s book is solidly in the American tradition of anti-interventionism which has been struggling to make itself felt since it was smothered at the end of WWII.  He declares he is driven by enlightened self-interest, that most valuable form of selfishness, telling us: “It is the lives, liberty, property and the prosperity of my fellow Americans that I seek to defend in doing what I can to discredit the fake China Threat.”

Author: John V. Walsh

John V. Walsh writes about issues of war, peace, empire, and health care for, Consortium News,, The Unz Review, and other outlets. Now living in the East Bay, he was until recently Professor of Physiology and Cellular Neuroscience at a Massachusetts Medical School. John V. Walsh can be reached at