When Donald Trump was taking oaths in Wahington DC on January 20, 2017 as the 45th President of the USA, in London, an award winning John Pilgers documentary ‘The Coming War on China’ was screened in cinemas. Trump as the most powerful leader on our planet, could shake the world twice within one week without firing a shot was proved, the following day after inauguration, by over 670 rallies against Trump across the world from US cities through London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Sydney and Hong Kong. South Asian countries remained silent. Are the Asians overawed by Trump’s triumph, or fear the impending war on China? The second global backlash on January 29, 2017, was caused by Trump’s sudden ban on immigrants from seven Islamic countries from entering the USA for 90 days. Attorney General who refused to defend Trump’s action was promptly sacked. The Federal Judge who gave a stay order for the ban was insulted by Trump.
But first, the most alarming J. Pilger’s well researched documentary, ‘’The Coming War on China’’ reveals a build up to war on the door step of China. It shows that there are more than 400 US military bases (with an illustration of their locations) encircling China from Australia through the Pacific and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India. Filmed over two years in the Marshall Islands, Japan, Korea, China and USA, it brings together rare archives and interviews with witnesses including Pentagon war planners. China was excluded from Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). As promised, Trump withdrew from TPP, as part of his isolationist policy just on the second day after assuming office. He is a man of his words, say his admirers in the White House.
Pilger’s documentary reveals a study by Rand Corporation (which planned US wars) entitled ‘War with China; Thinking Through the Unthinkable’’. US Admiral Harry Harris, the US military commander for Asia and Pacific told New York Times,”My responsibilities cover Bollywood to Hollywood”. No wonder PM Modi was invited by Trump to visit US. In 2015, in high secrecy the US staged its biggest military exercise in East Asia called ‘Talisman Sabre’, that included the blocking of Malacca Straits, (China’s wind pipe) to starve China. China’s response was swift and firm. Global Times of China wrote, “the US risks a large scale war with China if it attempts to blockade the islands off the South China sea. If Trump’s rhetoric becomes policy, “The two sides had better prepared for war” an editorial wrote. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its territories. “When Pilgers interviewed a Chinese strategist in Beijing, he had said “We are not your enemy, but if you decide we are, then we must prepare for war without delay”.
What is predictable about Trump’s world order is that, it would be in disorder, as he changes gears every day. He challenges one China’s policy by President Nixon. He was against free trade, climate change theory, calls the UN a club where members meet to have a good time and threatens to cut US contribution by 40%, the US-Japan alliance a bad deal and NATO is obsolete, and Trump is against globalisation, while owning Miss Universe Pageant. This combustible mix of the most depraved, is life-threatening for the global community. A US writer Matt Triby wrote in an essay “Donald Trump is western civilizations own car wreck”.
Trump’s emerging Foreign Policy would divide the world on racial lines. Trump’s re-alignmment of international alliances with the worlds two white nations - US and Russia against China, is a photocopy of German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II’s alliance of eight white nations, including Russia Great Britain and France. They invaded China in 1897, ransacked Beijing and divided China among them. A cartoon at the time showed Queen Victoria, Czar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm and other leaders seated round the Yellow Peril cake or China ready to cut it.
Trump routinely delivered anti non-white pronouncements during his election campaign to the sound of enthusiastic applause. He built a platform of white identity. politics, around villainization of non-white Asians in particular.
Trump mocks Asians, using broken English and said, “When Asian negotiators enter a room they don’t say hello, instead they say deal. Trump’s bigoted rhetoric and abusive racist remarks are not new. “He is only distilling racial discrimination that existed from the 19th century Europe and America”. Observes sociologist, Jonathan Alter noted in the Daily Beast “Trump’s thinking about Asia is rooted in the tradition of Yellow Peril xenophobia. In Beijing, Lijia Zhang, a young journalist told Pilgers in 2016, “The idea of Yellow Peril has not left them”. Pilgers’ documentary records this fear of Yellow Peril with such evidence.
Yellow Peril is the white man’s fear of the rising tide of the Asians. The phrase Yellow Peril was coined by sociologist Jaques Novikow in his essay Le Peril Jaune in 1897. Soon after that philosophers, evangelists, writers, news paper cartoonists, film producers in Europe and US joined to spread the dragon’s teeth or Yellow Peril phobia. Philosopher Von Ehrenfels said “Western world is in a Darwinian struggle to survive, but the yellow race is winning”. Evangelist G.G. Rupert said in 1911 “Yellow Peril from China, India, Japan and Korea is attacking the UK and the USA, but Jesus would prevent conquest of the Western world”. Lothrop Stoddards in his 1920 book said “The rising tide of colour, held that white blood races are most advanced, but China or Japan would unite the oriental races to conquer the Western world. Just as Karl Marx’s book “Das Capital”, in later years led to Communist phobia, Stoddards book drove the Europeans to unite and invade China, which in its 5,000-year history never invaded any country. In 1906, W.E.B Du Bois wrote “The Colour Line Belts the world” Is China’s “One Belt one Road” (OBOR) initiative is its response? Films such as, The World of Suzie Wong 1960, The Lotus Blossom, Miss Saigon 1989, (first song, Saigon girls are hotter than hell!) Shanghai Express 1932 portrayed Asian women as sexually voracious and perpetually available for copulation.
German Emperor Kaiser used a picture of Michael the Archangel leading the goddesses against Yellow Peril, with a picture of Buddha in the background. Nothing was sacred in the fight against oriental yellow races; religion, gender, ethnicity and media were used against Asians. The war against Asians has not stopped even in the 21st century. Readers may be surprised to learn that even NASA has been afflicted by the Yellow Peril. NASA banned space researchers working with Chinese or even using NASA funds to entertain Chinese visitors, astronauts from Russia were taken to US space station but never a Chinese. Perhaps it helped Chinese scientists to get funds to build China’s own space station very successfully and sent Chinese astronauts on frequent visits to the space station.
US novelist Gore Vidal wrote “For the US to survive in the Sino-Japanese world, alliance with the Soviet Union is a necessity”. Does it not explain Trump’s unexpected cosying up with President Vladimir Putin of white Russia, against China? It is a heterodox one with very little support, since it is framed in racial terms.
"Many hoped Trump would not convert his election campaign rhetoric to policy. But from day one after assuming office as President, his words are becoming deeds"
Core of Yellow Peril ideology is white man’s fear of oriental sexual voracity say sociologists. In the 19th century, Asian immigrants were deemed an existential threat to physical health, sexuality and morality of white Americans. Yellow Peril was legalized in the US by a series of Acts such as, Chinese exclusion Act of 1882, Cable Act of 1922, Asiatic Barred Zone Act etc barred Asian immigrants calling them homosexuals, idiots, criminals, alcoholics and polygamists. Chinese were massacred in Wyoming in1871, Tacoma riots in1885, Seattle riots in1886 and Los Angeles massacre of 1871.
Millions of non-whites are being killed in Iraq and Syria. The US has spent $ 5 trillion on wars since 9/11 according to Brown’s University of US. American billionaire George Soros, manipulated a currency war against Tiger economies of Asian countries. In 1997, Malaysian ex-Premier Dr. Mahathir Mohammed accused Soros for using his wealth to punish Asian countries. As economist Paul Kinsman said “Soros not only moved money in anticipation of a crisis, but do his best to trigger such a crisis’. Soros who advocates a Federal Constitution for Sri Lanka visited as a guest of our government. In Davos on January 19, 2017, Soros warned that Trump was preparing for a trade war. As Kaiser of Germany did in 1890s, Trump was forming an anti-Asian alliance with the leaders of white Russia, Israel, and the UK. Firing the first bullet on the trade war against China, Trump threatened to impose a 45% import duty on all imports from China, plus a 75% duty on imports of steel from China.
Donald Trump loomed large over the 2017 World Economic Forum. President Xi Jinping in his key note address ignoring Trump’s Yellow Peril jibes and without naming Trump, threw down the gauntlet to the Trump camp. His speech was a rebuke of everything that Trump stands for. Xi defending globalisation and free trade vigorously said, “We must remain committed to free trade and investment. Take steps to fix what was wrong with globalisation, mend it; but do not end it. China is not going to let globalisation go down without a fight, “As Trump is pulling back from from the world arena, Xi is stepping forward to fill the void. Carl Bidt, former Swedish PM said, “There is a vacuum in global leadership. Xi sees it and seized it”. Xi’s speech is not only a rebuke of Trump’s relentless depiction of yellow China, as a threat to the white US, but also a power play. Xi’s rhetorical broadsides would have caused more than ripples in Trump’s White House.
Many hoped Trump would not convert his election campaign rhetoric to policy. But from day one after assuming office as President, his words are becoming deeds.Yellow Peril xenophobia of 1882 has come alive. As the champion of white supremacists (as Hitler and Karl Wilhelm did), Trump is exploiting the Yellow Peril fear, to make America great. Result is an instant disorder in world order. Asia is becoming a scene of international rivalry, with US-China rivalry becoming the most menacing. This rivalry is drawing small countries of Asia to the two sides. Japan is desperately seeking the friendship of Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia; China is offering Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to fill the vacuum caused by Trump’s withdrawal from TPP.
The narrative in Trump’s Washington DC is, China has become very aggressive and unpredictable. South Asia is in a state of flux with a permanent war in Afghanistan, Indo-Pakistan tensions and China’s involvement in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Many have begun to fear Trump’s authoritative actions with no respect to even an independent judiciary or Congress, might trigger the World War III. In the past, President Kennedy started the Vietnam war and President George W. Bush waged the never-ending war on Iraq without Congress approval. As a child during the WW II, I can recollect how many Sri Lankans -- rich or poor -- suffered due to scarcities of essential food, despite the valiant efforts by the British Government to keep us alive.
It is sad to see today that UK Premier Theresa May extending her friendship to Trump, as firm as the hand she extended for him to grasp while walking down the steps of White House. It is no relief to be told by experts that Trump suddenly grasped May’s hand because Trump suffers from bathmophobia or the fear of steps. World community; the Asians in particular, are hoping Trump’s fear of Yellow Peril would not push him to press the nuclear button. Ironically, the prevention of WW III rests mostly on Angela Merkel’s Germany supported by Xi Jinping.
Professor Nancy Snow of the California University said, “Let’s hope Trump’s buffoonery or typhoon buffoonery fades into nothing more than a tropical depression”.