Another US academic on Taiwan

4 Nov

Begun by Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, the wall to wall demonising of China by Washington and its junior partners, amped up by our not so independent media, continues under POTUS 46. But there are articulate and informed voices of sharp dissent within US academia. In advancing my own understanding, the most important has been Michael Hudson: Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, researcher at Bard College’s Levy Economics Institute, global south debt specialist, Sinologist and much besides.

(Professor Hudson frequently features in these posts, most recently in the second of last week’s autumn reads.)

But there are others, like Deborah Brautigam, Professor of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, where she is also the Director of its China Africa Research Initiative. A third is Ken Hammond, Professor of History at New Mexico State University and, like Hudson, a frequent long stay visitor to China.

Here Professor Hammond is interviewed for sixty-eight lucid and info-packed minutes by Rania Khalek. While the latter’s youthful enthusiasm can at times make her questions heavy-handedly leading and – worse in my book – too long, she does keep things on track and moving forward nicely. As for the professor, his responses are masterly. Though the context is Taiwan, the most worrying front of all in this new cold war, the ground covered goes far wider. The time invested – and the interview loses little for being heard while driving or ironing, say, rather than viewed – will be richly rewarded.

There’s a red horizontal line at foot of screen, broken into segments. Hover the cursor over each for a summary of what is being discussed in that part of the interview.

The segments are:

  • History of Taiwan
  • China’s civil war
  • China in WW2
  • Taiwan’s military dictatorship, 1949-1993
  • Taiwan at the UN – representing all of China!
  • “One China” agreed by both Taiwan and the mainland
  • US provocations
  • Taiwan’s hawks
  • Imagining reunification
  • Taiwan’s ruling party intransigence due to US support
  • China v Washington – who is the aggressor?
  • Biden different from Trump?
  • What informs US Sinophobia?
  • De-escalation channels
  • The CIA in Tibet
  • Efforts to Balkanise China
  • Inevitability of US decline
  • Cold war politics within US academia 1


  1. In his closing words, Professor Hammond speaks of progressives within US academia in terms familiar to me from my own engagements with ultra-leftist critics of China. While the tone may differ, the “plague on both their houses” stance he speaks of is substantively identical to that of a far left which, having failed to effect revolution in the West, and by that failure obliged China to adapt to global neoliberalism, now has the gall – even as Belt & Road lifts hundreds of millions from poverty, promises the same for hundreds of millions more in the global south at large and, for all Greta Thunberg’s ingenue accusations, looks to achieve carbon neutrality ahead of the West – to denounce China’s “capitalist roadsters”!

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