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The governance numbers: A comparative U.S. and China list

There are a huge number of good things you can say about the United States—and of course there are bad things too. Exactly the same is true about China. Yet the world’s most populous country is harshly and relentlessly criticized by the U.S. for shortcomings that are actually more prevalent in America. Jerry Grey reports.  

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is known to commit many crimes in the name of “National Security”. But to deflect attention from this, it projects its own crimes and problems onto other countries, in particular China.

Let’s look at the facts.

American critics talk about what they say happened at Tiananmen Square, where all the evidence points to just over 200 deaths more than 30 years ago, while their own police kill more than 1,000 people.

Every. Single. Year.

Washington march against police violence, 2014. Ted Eyton/ Wikimedia Commons

They speak badly of China’s police as authoritarian, when not one person has been shot or killed by a Chinese police officer in the past three years.

In fact, in the past five years, only two people on the mainland have been shot by police, one in 2019 and one in 2018.

Both were, at the time, using vehicles intent on killing or injuring other citizens.

They accuse China of being authoritarian when the USA, with just four per cent of the world’s population, holds more than 20 per cent of the entire world’s prison population.

The USA has 655 people out of 100,000 incarcerated, compared to China’s 121.

And that doesn’t include Taiwan, as the independently managed province has an incarceration rate twice that of the mainland, at 241.

They point at China’s shoddy workmanship as their own bridges fall over because they’ve had no maintenance for 50 years, and their homes collapse because of poor construction policies.

They accuse China of Intellectual Property theft when their own science is years behind in many areas. At the same time, their FBI advises that intellectual property theft is not just growing in the United States but is already a massive problem requiring the formation of a Property Rights Coordination Center.

They allege China won’t share space technology and science when they are the ones who legislate to stop NASA sharing with China.

They accuse China of propaganda while they budget US$300 million a year for negative media reports on the world’s most populous country and have proposed a further half a billion dollars a year.

They speak of corporate crime in China as if these were exclusive to the country and the fault of poor governance, while it was the United States which almost brought the world to its knees, more than once, through corporate crime which for the most part remains unpunished.

US corporations are considered directly responsible for all, not just some, of the biggest corporate crimes in recent history.

They claim to support a free market economy while they sanction more than 20 countries, hundreds of companies, and thousands of individuals.

They talk of “inhumane lockdowns” in China, where people are regularly delivered free food and free Covid testing, as well as free hospital care if tested positive.

All this while more than a million people in the United States died, compared to 5,200 in China.

The US failure to manage Covid means more than 70 million Americans, half of the known number of people who have had the disease, must come to terms with an uncertain future of complications due to long Covid.

They speak of themselves as being the “land of the free” and “the brave” and attempt to highlight human rights abuses of other countries, while they lock up thousands of families and separate children from their mothers at their borders.

They are known to illegally arrest and imprison suspects without trial, often moving them to “black sites” where they are able to use torture techniques which have been legalised by their government but renamed “enhanced interrogation”.

They accuse China of military proliferation when only one Chinese military site exists overseas and it is used in cooperation with U.S. troops in the same region, Djibouti. While at the same time the US has about 750 bases and 200,000 troops stationed overseas.

They allege China is militarising the South China sea when they have a US “self-defense” force of more than 70 American and allied ships sailing off or near the coast of China.

The US accuses China of using forced labour, a claim which has been heavily debunked, while using their own incarcerated prisoners as involuntary and sometimes unpaid labour.

China has signed the international labour convention against slavery – while the United States has chosen not to.

Manon Lavet/ Wikimedia Commons

They speak of freedom of speech while locking up a lawyer who found guilt among oil executives and a journalist who exposed crimes by their military.

They boast of their community’s liberty and freedoms but their society is blighted by gun violence which has led to the deaths of 45,000 people and injuries to 115,000 last year alone.

They praise their medical systems but charge so much that 530,000 people declare bankruptcy every year because of healthcare bills.

They have the world’s best universities but ordinary people can’t afford to study there without incurring a lifetime of high interest debt – from about four per cent (federal) up to 13 per cent (private) a year, compared to the bank interest rate of 0.5 per cent.

They present the country as “the world’s police officer” but have an annual murder rate of between five and nine out of 100,000, with some cities such as New Orleans as high as 35 out of 100,000. Compare this with China’s 0.5 out of 100,000, or Hong Kong’s 0.2 out of 100,000.

They claim to bring peace and democracy in a “war on terror” but have killed 929,000 people and created 38 million homeless and destitute refugees in the last 20 years.

While 40 per cent of their own country’s people don’t have enough food, they spend billions on their own military and many more to Israel, Ukraine, and other countries.

They also spend billions on drug enforcement every year while the number of drug addictions and drug-related deaths increases exponentially.

More than 100,000 people died of overdoses last year, and there are 39 million known users of illegal drugs – more than one in ten of the population.

They claim to be a country of equality but white Americans hold 85 per cent of the wealth while black Americans hold 4.1 per cent. The other 10% is shared amongst Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans.

The number of black prisoners in the US prison system is 1,240 out of 100,000, which is a rate five times higher than it is for whites. In every state and in every category, fewer whites are imprisoned than Black and Hispanic/Latino Americans.

They live in the richest country in the world with a per capita GDP that is 436 per cent of the world’s average, but 11.4 per cent live in poverty, and half a million individuals are on the street.

They talk of fairness, but one per cent of the country’s people hold 15 times more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent.

Ten 10 per cent of the people own as much as 90 per cent of all stocks and have 70 per cent of the money.

They have a 20-year “war on terror” which has killed several major leaders such as Gaddafi, Hussein and Bin Laden, and yet there is strong evidence that all three of these dead enemies were once allies of their own intelligence community.

Any country can be criticised. But the relentless demonization of China, particularly by the United States, surely feels deeply wrong to anyone who cares about fairness and justice for all the communities that make up humanity.

Let’s give the last word to an influential American figure, Potter Stewart, an associate judge of the US Supreme Court: “Fairness is what justice really is.”

Jerry Grey is a British-born Australian living in Guangdong. His writings on China have made him a popular alternative voice. He is active on Twitter and on Medium.

Image at the top by Karolina Grabowska/ Pexels

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