Western Representations of China’s Rise
Chapter 5: The ‘China threat’: a self-fulfilling prophecy
WHAT’S THE COST OF IMAGINING AN ENEMY? In Charles Frazier’s award-winning novel Cold Mountain, the male protago-nist Inman, a badly wounded soldier running away from the bloody battle-field during the American Civil War, meets a blind street vendor. Similar to his own wounds, someone must have been responsible for his blindness, Inman wonders. To Inman’s surprise, however, the street vendor says he was actually born that way. Looking at his terrible wounds at the hands of known enemies, Inman somehow starts to pity that blind man. ‘For how did you find someone to hate for a thing that just was? What would be the cost of not having an enemy? Who could you strike for retribution other than yourself?’ As he quickly flips through these questions in his mind, suddenly Inman begins feeling lucky—at least he knows his enemy. To that blind man, knowing no enemy denies him that precious sense of certainty or a clear target for revenge. With his known enemy, the lucky Inman is in good company. In many ways, the military-industrial complex finds itself in a similar situation, but its lucky star is the perceived certain threat of China.
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