America is reluctant to accept the rise of China and takes it as a threat. The US has openly claimed to contain China, counter China, and resist China’s rise. Since President Obama’s era, anti-China sentiments exists, but, during the time of President Donald Trump, the trade war and more aggressive policies toward China entered a new stage. However, the most dangerous are President Joe Biden’s approach to a cold war mentality. His policies are ganging up with allies and using all sorts of cold war tactics against China.
Five fundamentals are pointers to the United States embarking on an unwinnable Sisyphean quest that will end up hurting its interests more than stopping China’s rise in its tracks.
Less than a year after the longest, disastrous war in U.S. history ended on a messy military exit from Afghanistan, the Biden administration is apparently embarked on the fast track of fashioning a major new foreign policy design to combat the challenge from China.
There are signposts to a new Cold War but, interestingly, the United States is resorting to containment of China from a rather outmoded playbook, namely, the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Since anti-Communism still sells, this playbook, too, begins with the demonization of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as its nostalgic throwback to the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU), which presided over the liquidation of the Soviet Union.
Once the “the enemy” is “created,” then the countermeasures are a natural corollary to combat the “threat,” foremost among these being the cobbling of a coalition of like-minded allies, as was done during the Cold War. Similarly, couching the confrontation in ideological terms, democracy versus autocracy, makes it an easier “sell” as a moral conflict between the “good guys” and “bad guys.”
However, U.S. policymakers fail to understand that China is no Soviet Union. The only thing common between China and the Soviet Union is the label of the ruling parties although the Chinese Communist Party, with 90 million members, presides over a huge state apparatus that, despite its formal Marxist trappings, exudes the vibrancy and creativity of a thriving Asian free-market economy pushing globalization, inspired by the famous catchy dictum of Deng Xiaoping: “Getting Rich is Glorious.”
In the past, this “one size fits all” Cold War-like approach has cost the United States dearly in Asia, often reflecting a paucity of imagination. At the end of World War II, Asian freedom fighters, including Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh, looked up to the United States for inspiration to usher in the post-colonial era. In January 1945, Mao and Zhou Enlai offered to come to Washington to see President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom they admired. And Ho Chi Minh was so impressed by Jeffersonian ideals that he incorporated excerpts from the American Declaration of Independence into the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence from French colonialism. However, ideology trumped realpolitik and both were rebuffed as they had been labeled as “the enemy.”
Under Xi Jinping, more than ideology, the Chinese Communist Party’s political DNA is derived from two historical traumas. These are vividly demonstrated in Xi’s various speeches and articles published under the title: “The Governance of China.” The first is the “Century of Humiliation,” from 1840-1949 when a weak China was under foreign domination and Chinese sovereignty was virtually non-existent. Visitors to Shanghai will often be taken around to different museums where the Shanghai of the 1930s is recreated, when it was divided into foreign enclaves including the French quarter, the American quarter, the British quarter, and the German quarter, with their own country laws governing their respective territorial domains and their respective clubs proudly advertising at the entrance, “Chinese and dogs not allowed.” Hence, the obsession of the Chinese leadership regarding the inviolability of the borders and protecting what they feel is China’s sovereignty and unity.
The second part of Xi’s political DNA is the “Soviet Model”: the manner of the unraveling of the USSR under a decaying and decadent Communist Party of the Soviet Union led by corrupt, self-serving, “fat and flabby” apparatchiks. So the fear of the Soviet Union’s collapse motivates the CCP leadership to view Michael Gorbachev as a “teacher by negative example” (how not to do things), which, in turn, reinforces the determination of the CCP to “never again” allow that failed model to “infect” the CCP.
It is urged that scholars, intellectuals, academicians, politicians, and media, should come forward to play their respective role to melt down the tension and confrontation. Think Tanks also can contribute a lot. It is desired that all differences should be resolved based on ground realities, justice, and mutual respect, under the UN charter. Wars, confrontations, tensions, and conspiracies may harm everyone and spoil global peace stability, and prosperity.