Paranoia over China hurts US

Paranoia over China hurts US

 

Paranoia over China does US no good

By Zhu Yuan (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-04-11 09:57

 

 

Paranoia over China does US no good

The US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew speaks at a meeting held on March 31 in San Francisco after returning from a two-day visit to Beijing. The meeting is held by Asia Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the world about Asia and attended by around 100 business representatives in the Bay Area. LIA ZHU/CHINA DAILY

 

Will the United States revert to protectionist policies to perpetuate its hegemony or stick to the principle of free trade at the risk of suffering relative decline?

This is the question Nial Ferguson asks in the introduction to his book, Colossus:

The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. If the function of the US as the sole superpower is to underwrite a liberal international commercial and financial system, as Ferguson quotes Paul Kennedy as saying, it indeed has a lot of importance for China, the world's second-largest economy.

Whether China can overtake the US as the largest economy in the near future, therefore, becomes a worrying question for many Americans, concerned as they are about the possibility of the US losing its status as the world's strongest power.

With such worries comes the "China threat" fallacy, which has been combined with the conspiracy theory to paint a picture of how China's rise poses a threat to the security of the US and the world at large.

In recent days, we have been bombarded with another theory, the "China collapse" fallacy, which forecasts China's disintegration before it can overtake the US as the largest economy.

Looking back at the trajectory of China-US relations, we can see the stark contrast between how the two countries felt and feel about each other.

In the 1970s, when ties were being renewed as dictated by geopolitical needs and the mutual advances by the two sides led to the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1979, the US and its people were more or less in the good books of the Chinese people and vice-versa.

 

When former US president Richard Nixon said at a banquet held in his honor in the Great Hall of the People that never had he heard American music played better in a foreign land, he sent a message of general amicability between the two countries.

But China's ascent has made some American politicians lose their sense of balance and see it as a rival, even as an opponent, rather than a partner with which the US can work for the common good of the world.

Despite Chinese leaders' repeated assertions that China's ascent is and will be peaceful and poses no threat to any country or the world order, some American politicians consider them mere diplomatic rhetoric instead of the sincere avowal of China's authorities.

Their logic is that there can be no such thing as two equal powers getting along well, as the history of the conflicts between empires tells.

However, look at how the United States has acted since becoming the sole superpower after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Despite the wars it has launched against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has not occupied any country or region.

Despite its involvement in regional conflicts, it has not acquired a country as a colony.

This is not least because it is not an empire in nature, but because the world is different, much more civilized than it used to be.

It is thus not possible for the US to act like ancient empires did.

China still has a long way to go before it catches up with the US in overall strength.

Even if it does catch up with the US in the near future, it is not possible for China to act like the empires of yore or even like what the US has done over the past couple of decades.

The days when a powerful country could ride roughshod over other countries trampling the rules of human civilization are history.

These are times of world peace and free trade.

Despite the differences between the two countries, they have to make joint efforts in tandem with other countries to solve the common problems the world faces such as global warming, environmental damage, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and the lack of resources for human development.

The paranoia over China and the fallacy of seeing it as an opponent will do the US and the world no good.

 

 

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