experts are out of date on China


Writers who judge China’s culpability in the deterioration of relations with the US confuse cause and effect

In recent years, but especially in the wake of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which just closed in late October, Western writers have rushed to accuse Beijing of becoming anti-Western. This is seen in several examples from Western writers, such as Evan Osnos of the New Yorker or a typical China-accusation piece recently published by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.

In his article entitled “How China Lost America,Friedman says there are four trends in China that have soured US-China relations: market manipulation, hypernationalism, aggressive foreign policy and Beijing’ But he does not elaborate these points convincingly and does not acknowledge the extent to which Washington’s own policies are responsible for China’s alleged turn of the West.

First of all, much of what is called intellectual property theft (what Friedman mentions in his piece) is just plain intellectual dissemination. The FBI launched a whole “China Initiative” to investigate such cases at top US universities and companies – and it came almost completely empty-handed to the point of having to shut down as it turned into a vehicle for anti-Asian racism.

Nor does this even acknowledge the magnitude of the US’s own market manipulation, namely through the sheer influence its multinationals have in creating trade and economic policies, or the promiscuous use of unilateral sanctions. The US also routinely violates World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations in its trade war against Beijing. The organization even allowed China in January to impose tariffs on $645 million in imports over trade malpractice in the US.

It is laughable that an American would call China hyper-nationalist. The US is the most cartoonish nationalistic country in the history of our species: Children in most public schools are required to swear a ‘pledge of allegiance’ to the flag every morning, Americans only know one language on average, and the American flag is flying all over the country . The Chinese are on balance much less chauvinistic and more open-minded.

Likewise, it is difficult to avoid insinuations of Beijing’s alleged “aggressive” foreign policy seriously. The People’s Republic of China has never started a war since its inception and has not been involved in a proxy war for decades. Compare that to the fact that the US has been at war almost every year of its existence since 1776. In fact, it is America’s aggressive foreign policy that is provoking resistance from Beijing.

In conclusion, at the zero Covid point, this is just sensible policy. Virtually every country in the world has succumbed to public pressure to ease Covid-related restrictions. That’s quite understandable, since they weren’t effective in most countries. But that doesn’t change the fact that Covid-19 is an extremely deadly and debilitating disease that continues to kill many people and leave many more disabled. If anyone could choose to ban Covid-19 from society, why wouldn’t they? Fortunately, China has effectively used its technology for this – and it works.

A report from Citigroup in January, based on three surveys conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce China, the EU Chamber of Commerce China and the Japanese External Trade Organization, found that China is their preferred investment destination. Among the main reasons cited was the resilience of the country’s supply chain and the effectiveness of its Covid-19 controls.

US and China discuss bilateral rivalry

Here’s the real story of why Friedman and others are bashing China: When Beijing began its reform and opening-up policies, it was hoped that this explosion of American capital in the country would go hand in hand with regime change. This did not happen. In fact, the Chinese leaders anticipated this and took steps to ensure that this did not happen. And top American intellectuals love it. That’s the Sparknotes version.

To quote the Chinese leader during the early opening and reform period, Deng Xiaoping: “No matter how much China opens up to the outside world and admits foreign capital, its relative size will be small and it cannot affect our system of socialist public ownership of the means of production.”

Much has been said about the alleged anti-Western sentiment and hardcore communist ideology of Chinese President Xi Jinping, but this does not recognize that the People’s Republic of China has been established since. And just as the US has done for decades, it will do whatever it takes to get independent nations to agree to their way of doing things, for example what is now called the “rules-based international order.”

Friedman and others who blame Beijing for initiating the deterioration of US-China relations are not living in the world of facts and causation. They live in a world clouded and irreparably distorted by American exceptionalism. It’s not something China did or didn’t do that is responsible for the Americans’ deteriorating image of Beijing; rather, it is the same people who are twisting their agendas and misinforming the public.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author only and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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