(This Editorial has also been carried in the English Global Times under the title “The world stage won’t be one against China”. The slight differences are indicated below though strike-outs for phrases in the English version not included in the Chinese version and italics font for those in the Chinese version not in the English one.)
The ribbon-cutting ceremony that the US is “returning to the center of the world stage” has been staged this week. The third ministerial meeting among Quad, an informal security grouping of the US, Japan, Australia and India, as well as the meeting of foreign ministers of France, Germany, the UK with the US secretary of state, were held on Thursday, US time. A virtual G7 summit and a virtual edition of the annual Munich Security Conference convene on Friday. Both US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are too busy.
However, messages conveyed in the abovementioned multiple meetings all point to the US calling on allies to jointly “tackle the China challenge.” This reminds people of the fact that the US is returning to the international community with its fundamental mistakes of the past four years. The US hasn’t changed its course, but wants to draw more countries to board its ship, turning the paranoid US China policy into a common line of the entire West and even more countries.
It will run into snags. It will be hard for it not to hit a nail in the head next.
The world has changed. If the US, which is highly strategically selfish, doesn’t adjust itself to the situation, it will increasingly feel its loneliness. The US remains powerful, and it’s not difficult for Washington to organize some big events to show “solidarity” among allies. But this cannot eliminate the differences in interests between various allies and the US, nor can it prevent those countries from participating in international affairs based on their own interests. Washington does not have the absolute strength to build a new Cold War alliance any more, and there also lacks an international strategic environment for it to do so.
During the Cold War era of the last century, the United States shared common enemies, common interests and a common value system with major Western nations, and the U.S. economy was in an overwhelmingly strong position to single-handedly protect all its allies while bringing them security and prosperity. Today those conditions either no longer exist or have been severely weakened.
China is not an enemy of the United States, but is in a complex competitive relationship with it. China became the number one trading partner of the European Union in 2020 and the number one trading partner of almost all of America’s Asia-Pacific allies, and the United States and China have the largest bilateral trade volume in the world. The U.S. is divided within the country on its strategy toward China, and it would be a dream to think that it could have allies sacrifice the huge economic benefits of their relationship with China..
There is a fundamental bias in Washington’s political definition of China and its relations with China. Some US elites are too sensitive about geopolitics and detached from reality, hence the recurring twist between political fervor for China and realistic interests.
Washington has always emphasized the common values between the US and other Western countries and claimed China as an “alien”. It is true that the political systems of China and the West are different and that there are ideological differences. But the diversity of human society is eternal and the need for mutual tolerance will long occupy a prominent place in the common values of humanity. After all, the United States cannot go as far as it wants to go against such inclusiveness. Its excessive consumption of “values” has gradually become pretentious, and there will be more and more “people who understand” in the Western world.
If the US wants to exert greater leadership, it will have to conform to the needs of other countries. Development is the common aspiration of the world, and it also has become the top connotation of national security. China is a development cooperator and facilitator to all countries, including the US. If Washington cannot overcome its zero-sum major power competition mentality and stubbornly takes carrying out vicious competition to crash China as its long-term strategy, it is doomed to suffer setbacks in mobilizing the Western world against China.
For China, it is a fact that the U.S. is powerful but not powerful enough to contain China at will. Therefore, China will not confront the US, but will dedicate itself to doing its own thing and expanding friendly cooperation with foreign countries as much as possible. This is a reliable and feasible strategy.
The US finding trouble with China geopolitically will increase our development cost, but we definitely can withstand it. If the United States tries to target China geopolitically, it will increase the costs of our continued development, but it is a cost we can undoubtedly handle.