China’s Emergence as a 21st Century Superpower

The China Complex: the Big Picture – Part 2

Al Jazeera (2019)

Film Review

Part 2 starts with the 1989 so-called Tiananmen Square “massacre,” which recent evidence suggests was a failed CIA-instigated color revolution.* Five months later, the Berlin Wall would collapse. According to historian F William Engdahl, the CIA also played a much greater role in the collapse of the Soviet Union than they have officially admitted.**

The 1990s saw an increasingly prosperous middle class under Deng Xiaoping’s “Strike Harsh” policy. This is described as harsh “extra legal” punishments against dissidents and “hooligans.” Much of this repression was directed against violent protests by Tibetan  (China annexed the protectorate of Tibet in 1951) and Uyhgar separatists. Though not mentioned in the documentary, both groups continue to receive significant funding and support from the CIA (see How the CIA Uses the Uyghurs to Destabilize China).

Uyghur jihadists have received additional funding and support from Turkey. With a stated goal of liberating Xinjian province as independent East Turkmenistan, they have been conducting major bombing campaigns against transportation and other government facilities.

In 2019, documents leaked by US intelligence supposedly indicate China is holding two million Uyghurs in concentration camps, as well as forbidding them to have bears or to display Arabic symbols. Given that China is far less Islamaphobic than the US, I am more inclined to believe Chinese claims the CIA photos are of voluntary vocational centers serving unemployed Uyghur youth as part of a government deradicalization program. See How Dare the US Lecture China About the Rights of Muslims

In Part 2, commentators also discuss growing Western concerns (after China joined the WTO in 2001) that it would usurp the US and Japan as the world’s major trading partners. These concerns sharply escalated when China literally saved the world from economic collapse in 2008 – by buying up a large quantity of US Treasury bonds and using central bank funding to stimulate internal economic growth.

Filmmakers go on to describe Xi Jinping’s accession to the Chinese presidency in 2012 and the immense popularity of his “Tigers and Flowers” anti-corruption campaign. The latter has resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of many notoriously corrupt local officials.

The documentary then explores China’s Belt and Road trade program that now extends from Asia into Africa. There China has essentially replaced the World Bank in handing out infrastructure development loans to struggling economies.

The film concludes by describing the trade war Trump started with China in 2018, allegedly to reduce the country’s trade surplus with the US and to punish them for failing to enforce international property treaties.


*See Tiananmen Square: The Failure of a 1989 US-inspired Color Revolution and The US-China Trade War Can be Traced Back to the Failed Tiananmen Square Color Revolution. According to several US reporters on the scene, there were no actual deaths when Chinese tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square (see The Tiananmen Square Massacre: Facts Fiction and Propaganda/).

**See Russia’s Criminal Oligarchy and the Rule of Bush Senior and the CIA

Al Jazeera’s Take on China

The China Complex: The Big Picture – Part 1

Al Jazeera (2019)

Film Review

This two-part documentary traces historical and cultural linkages to China’s current authoritarian style of government. It features commentary by a range of Chinese experts on whether China’s policy of “stability at all costs” is good or bad for the Chinese economy and people.

In my view the series’s key weakness of is its failure to examine the dilemma China faces in suppressing violent dissent (eg the Tibetan, Uygher and Hong Kong separatist movements) that is aided and abetted by foreign powers (mainly the CIA). There is a vague mention at the end of Part 2 about the foreign powers behind the Hong Kong protests putting China in a “lose-lose” situation (ie they potentially lose political control if they do nothing vs losing face internationally if they crack down on violent protestors).

The second major weakness is the documentary’s failure to explore the role of China’s unique monetary system in its unprecedented economic growth. At present it’s the only global power in which the government issues most of the nation’s money by spending it directly into the economy (aka sovereign money). In other countries, private banks create the vast majority of money in circulation when they issue loans.*

The most pro-China of the commentators attributes China’s economic miracle to their “stability at all cost” (ie repression of dissidents and “hooligans”). I don’t believe this is true. Freedom from the massive public and private debt that plague most industrialized nations has made for much more rapid (public and private) infrastructure development in China.

Aside from these weaknesses, the documentary provides valuable insight into Chinese history and culture, topics rarely taught in western schools. Part 1 covers the period from the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in 2070 BC to the 1989 Tienanmen Square protest. Most westerners are unaware that China was a major international power from the 4th – 18th century AD, with a vast trading empire and cultural influence extending well beyond its borders. Its subjects enjoyed prosperity equal to that to that of Europe prior to their colonization by England and other European power.


*In the US, UK and New Zealand, for example, government only creates 2-3% of money in circulation. 97-98% is created out of thin air (as credit) when banks issue loans. Even governments borrow from banks to pay for spending that exceeds tax revenue (the main source of government debt). See The Battle for Public Control of Money