U.S. 2022 NDAA is full of dangerous anti-Chinese provocations
Andrew Korybko
The U.S. national flag. /CFP

The U.S. national flag. /CFP

Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's views and not necessarily those of CGTN.

The U.S. recently passed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that commits almost $770 billion to ostensibly "defense-related" needs next year, which amounts to a five-percent increase in military spending. It's by far the largest such annual expenditure of any country in the world. Nevertheless, the NDAA is actually a misnomer of sorts since it isn't entirely connected to "defense." This is made obvious by the dangerous anti-Chinese provocations written into this gargantuan text of over 1,300 pages.

For starters, Congress included a statement of "support for China's Taiwan." This is an unfriendly but not exactly unexpected gesture. It reduces the chances of normalizing the fraught relations between China and the U.S.

That's unlikely to happen anytime soon though if the U.S. actually goes through with following the NDAA's suggestion to "invite Taiwan" to participate in next year's "Rim of the Pacific Exercise" (RIMPAC), which is the world's largest naval drill. Coupled with the document's request to "continue to support the development of capable, ready, and modern defense forces necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," it's clear that the U.S. is fanning the flames of separatism there.

America's adversarial intentions towards China are also evidenced in the NDAA's passage about prohibiting the Department of Defense from purchasing products that its authors describe as being made in so-called "forced labor camps" in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. That part was meant to remind the world about the regularly discredited U.S. claims of a so-called "genocide" there that form the basis for its "diplomatic boycott" of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

Finally, the last prominent anti-Chinese provocation in this year's newly passed NDAA is the $7.1 billion that'll be spent on what the U.S. describes as its "Pacific Deterrence Initiative" (PDI). At its initial stage, this project will aim to identify the most strategically promising areas of U.S. military investment and cooperation in the "Indo-Pacific". The purpose is of course to complicate the practice of Chinese policy in this transregional space. It's basically the seed of something that's envisioned to be grander.

Reviewing this list of anti-Chinese provocations, observers can confidently declare that the document is actually quite dangerous, provocative, and therefore doesn't have anything to do with "defense" when it comes to the highlighted parts about China. There's never any excuse for the U.S. flirting with a reversal of its one-China policy like it's begun to do over the past few years since the administration of former President Donald Trump. It's disappointing that U.S. President Joe Biden doesn't want to change course in this respect.

Submariners stand on top of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut in the water at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington, May 7, 2018. /Getty

Submariners stand on top of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut in the water at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington, May 7, 2018. /Getty

Despite being from different political parties and hated enemies of one another, these two men pursue the same antagonistic policies towards China. This can be attributed to the consistent vision of their permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies ("deep state"), which in turn discredits the claim that American administrations significantly differ from one another on the foreign policy front. Any serious changes are usually due to behind-the-scenes calculations, not presidential decisions.

Continued American military support for Taiwan and the suggestion to invite it to RIMPAC are unacceptable. This will increase the risk of a war by miscalculation by emboldening that island's separatist forces. China previously promised on numerous occasions that it'll never let their vile campaign succeed. So the U.S. should stop playing with fire. Hopefully Biden and his closest advisors have enough sense to only pay lip service to those parts of the NDAA and not actually fulfill them.

The Xinjiang "genocide" claims are doomed to fade into obscurity since there's no factual evidence to support them. The U.S. is artificially manufacturing a scandal in a desperate attempt to discredit China's international reputation ahead of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. The region's economy will continue to prosper regardless of whether or not the Department of Defense sources any products from there. For most of the world, Xinjiang is becoming a byword for responsible growth and security policies.

As for the PDI, the chronically mismanaged American government will struggle to organize the grand anti-Chinese "Indo-Pacific" coalition that it ridiculously dreams about. The Pentagon couldn't even organize effective resistance to the Taliban despite spending over $2 trillion across the course of two decades. The NDAA's provisioning of $7.1 billion for the PDI's obviously anti-Chinese mission next year is a proverbial drop in the bucket and is thus unlikely to amount to anything of substance whatsoever.

With all these observations in mind, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was right to "urge [the U.S.] to discard the obsolete Cold War zero-sum mentality and ideological bias and look at China's development and China-U.S. relations in an objective and rational light." The NDAA should be about defense, not dangerous anti-Chinese provocations. It's incumbent that the Biden administration basically ignores that document's hostile suggestions in order to preserve peace with China.

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