By Zhang Tengjun
In the latest round of China-US confrontation, the US has repeatedly interfered with China’s internal affairs and imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and entities. It even unreasonably asked China to close its consulate in Houston. Beijing has responded and will counterattack accordingly. It seems China-US relations are entering a free fall, without an end in sight.
China’s Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said the fundamental question for Washington is if the US is “ready or willing to live with another country with very a different culture, very different political and economic systems, or whether the United States is ready to live with it in peace and cooperate on many and still growing global challenges.”
Chinese officials have pointed out the knot of current China-US relations – Washington’s hysterical mind-set against Beijing. What the US needs to do is to recognize its problems as well as China’s role.
Recent US policy has been inconclusive in how to see China, a country whose politics, economy and culture are totally different from those of the US. Washington has constantly adjusted its policy toward Beijing since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Since the 21st century began, along with China’s accelerated development, the country’s international status and influence have really ramped up. Then, the US has increasingly regarded China as its threat, and proposed a new China policy that casts it as a strategic competitor.
However, the change of US’ China policy has not tackled the fundamental problems – whether US is willing to accept China as a member of the international system and as an equal partner. Based on US’ current China policy, the US is reluctant to give a positive answer.
Washington has never given up the idea of transforming Beijing’s ideology. This embodies US’ hostility and vigilance against communism. The core of the current rethinking of US engagement policy toward China holds that this is the most effective way to transform China. US strategic elites believe US-China engagement policy has failed. They are now attempting to seek a tougher way to deal with Beijing. This strategy could drag bilateral ties into the so-called Thucydides Trap.
The decline of the US has led to the rise of American anxiety about China. The 2008 financial crisis severely damaged the US economy. This resulted in the decline of US’ national strength and international status. Populism and nationalism have thus emerged in the country.
Against this backdrop, China’s rapid development is perceived as a scapegoat for US’ domestic problems, and as a challenger to US’ world leadership. Quite a few American politicians are therefore hyping up the differences between the two countries in terms of political systems, ideologies, and cultural values. They are attempting to shape China as the US’ biggest enemy.
Nonetheless, instead of arguing that China is a threat to the US, it is as a matter of fact that this is more about the US’ lack of confidence about its own development.
Washington’s perception of the world has also gone wrong. It has been adhering to the belief that the US is destined to sow the seeds of so-called democracy and freedom across the globe. Yet by nature, such behavior is to “Americanize” the world via US hegemony. The wishful imperialist thinking is outdated. It will only lead to endless, counter-productive acts.
Those who advocate for a China-US confrontation need to stay sober to reality. The world is undergoing huge changes. The era when the US could do whatever it wanted to willfully has passed. The key to win future competitions is to focus on finding solutions for domestic issues. Treating the development of other countries with a rational mind-set and not seeking to change other countries are the prerequisites for the US to win respect of the world. After all, the multipolar world is staying strong in this new period of globalization.
–The Daily Mail-Global Times news exchange item