As Japan's economic rise began to attract attention in the 1980s, the US media was overwhelmed with negative articles about Japan. The crisis point came when Japanese corporations began returning their US dollar reserves to the US on a buying spree, acquiring CBS Records, Columbia Pictures, the Rockefeller Center in New York and the Pebble Beach Golf Club in California. The US almost went crazy about the Japanese "invasion."
What happened then is the same as today with China. Every day, in every major newspaper in the US were several derogatory stories about Japan and everything Japanese. In those days, Japan was an 'f-word'.
Some peoople may recall the 'Yellow Peril' reference in an article by William Safire in the NYT, prognosticating the end of the world as Americans knew it and how Japan had to be stopped by any means.
The resentment generated was astonishing, and resulted in trade wars, punitive tarrifs, wild accusations about unfairness, 'voluntary' export restraints and a great deal of blatant protectionism. The US levied a 50% tariff on Japanese motorcycles, to protect Harley-Davidson, and Reagan threatened a 100% duty on every product made in Japan.
The frenzy died only after the US succeeded in forcing Japan to sign the Plaza Accord, thereby almost destroying Japan's economy. That agreement resulted in the Yen appreciating by 200% in 3 years. Japan's rise was halted and the Japanese economy still hasn't recovered.
When the US was upset wth Canada for not joining the 'coalition of the willing' to attack Iraq, Canada became an enemy of the US almost overnight. The US media were replete with stories about how the 9/11 terrrorists were Canadian, had Canadian passports, got their training in Canada, entered the US from Canada.
It was totally false, not a shred of truth, but it got air time for months, and John McCain and Hillary Clinton sometimes use it today to put pressure on Canada or attract public support from the radical right-wing. They know it's a lie, but they do it anyway.
Canadians can hardly avoid the knowledge that the US government - through cooperation with the Far Right-Wing media - fabricates really vicious lies about Canada, but yet they don't want to believe the US governrnment does the same about China or Iran or Iraq. Incredible.
Readers should be aware that Iran, and probably most Iranians, intensely dislike the US - and with very good reason. Iran was once a stable, functioning democracy until it upset the West by taking control of its oil reserves and production. The US, at the request of the UK, sent in the CIA, engineered a revolution, and installed a dictator who brutalised the country for 20 years until the Iranian people had their own revolution and reclaimed their government and their country from US control.
In 2000, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright stated:
"In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Massadegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs."
Iran is again in the US gunsights, and for the past year or more the US Right-Wing media have carried hundreds of negative stories about Iran, equating it with North Korea, spreading fear of a nuclear attack, demonising Iran in all ways possible. The US claims Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons that will threaten Europe. Oddly, Europe doesn't seem to feel threatened at all, and there is very little mention of Iran there, except in the UK Right-Wing press.
The US has put immense pressure on other countries, including China, to help it fulfil it's Right-Wing agenda of taking control of Iran yet again. Most of the world isn't willing to comply but the attempts are unceasing. Great pressure and much activity has been seen during the latter part of 2009 and early 2010, surrounding Iran's elections, in attempts to destabilise the country and perhaps bring down the government.
And yet Iran has committed no sins, certainly not against the US, but America demands a willing colony and Iran appears strangely reluctant and unwilling to be colonised. Defiance of a Right-Wing government as militaristic as the US, is dangerous - as Iraq discovered. And, daily, the verbal and media attacks on Iran continue. It was interesting that the US CIA was using Twitter heavily as a tool for destabilising Iran internally, at which point Iran cut off access to Twitter. And immediately, the US and the UK were 'demanding' that Iran reinstall access to this network - in the name of 'freedom and democracy'.
In today's US media we have an onslaught of negative propaganda about China, a constant stream of negative articles - in the NYT alone, we often have several on the same day - unfair, biased, bitterly critical and generally 90% factually incorrect. Articles on Wage levels, working hours, poverty, social stability, human rights, pollution, the currency, corruption, brainwashing, Tibet, Xinjiang, human rights, press freedom, internet. It never ends.
But China is actually moderate in all those categories. India is far worse in every catergory, including child labor, child indentured slavery, poverty, pollution, corruption. But we hear very little about India, which is as it should be. Many countries have serious problems but that isn't a reason to drag their dirty linen through the streets day after day.
Unless you happen to run afoul of the US empire, which is perhaps planning another regime change to help further democracy and freedom and human rights. I raise this because it is happening now. With Iran, with China, with anybody the US wants to isolate or punish, generally for the crime of hindering or challenging in some way the US god-given right to full-spectrum dominance of the globe.
And then it becomes fashionable for everyone; it's in vogue to jump on the China-bashing wagon, like an esteemed (I assume) professor named Mark Kingwell at the University of Toronto who wrote in a book that "half of all the new office towers in Shanghai are vacant", but that's probably a good thing because the concrete "is made of water, potatoes and lard." What a fine gentleman he must be, and Canada's Globe and Mail dutifully reported all his nonsese.
The information offered as news, is bigoted and racist, and the damage done to a country like China is serious. It becomes so easy for Westerners to believe that China is 'bad', that China pays 'slave wages', 'manipulates' their currency and the markets, pollutes the earth, prevents free expression, prohibits religion. And we believe it because the news media tell us it's so.
But it ain't so. The US population has been so deliberately conditioned, brainwashed in fact, that they will believe things in spite of a total lack of evidence and will disbelieve other things in spite of an overwhelming avalanche of evidence.
We read about alleged currency manipulation by China, but the media never tell us about how the US manipulates its own currency and plays with the international financial system to further its own interests.
We read about China's human rights violations without ever seeing detailed specific information about just what those violations are. In real life, they mostly don't exist; China is in no way a brutal country but many Americans don't want to believe that. In international trade, we have no evidence whatsoever that China is being duplicitous or unfair by any international standards, but most Americans believe it anyway.
In fact, China has committed no sins of consequnce against anyone, and certainly not against the world of trade. China's recent development should be considered one of the miracles of our modern age. Incredible progress has been made, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty; no other country has seen such startling and beneficial achievements.
But China has now reached a point where the nation cannot be ignored, and China's positions and policies have become more important in the world. And that means, to the US Far Right Wing, that China's gain is their loss. The purpose of this virulent media attack on China, as was true with Japan, is to 'contain' China, to slow or stop China's rise, to place obstacles and impediments into China's path, hoping to make the country stumble.
This is precisely the same process that Japan experienced, with one major difference. Japan is still occupied by the US and can much more easily be bullied than China. The US doesn't have the same political leverage against China, so it attacks on the basis of things like the form of government or currency manipulation, or on things like Internet freedom.