By Wang Wen Source: Global Times Published: 2020-5-24
I am usually in the minority when it comes to judging Washington. While most people hold optimistic views, I take pessimistic perspective. In 2016, I published my monograph - Anxiety of US - to analyze the tangled US mind-sets toward China's rise. On March 2, when fewer than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 hit this North American country, in my column, I predicted there would be "a large-scale coronavirus outbreak in the US." Recently my role flipped: While the majority felt pessimistic, I became an optimistic.
I don't approve of the ongoing argument that there would be a cold war between China and the US.
In fact, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday spent 100 minutes systematically answering almost all matters of global hot spots - in particular China-US ties. This strengthens my cautiously optimistic anticipation of future bilateral ties.
The phrases Wang used most frequently were ones such as cooperation, humanity, and history. He noted that a new cold war is trying to reverse the wheel of history. His strategic stance is clearly higher than that of US President Donald Trump, and much wiser than that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have been repeatedly attacking China in the past several months.
It has been proven that even though a few US politicians hope to launch a cold war against China, the second-largest economy in the world is not interested in such a cold war. China is not echoing the intention of the cold war not due to a lack of courage, but because it is not necessary. A cold war with the US will do no good to China's development, nor cater to global interests. on which China's decision-makers and international community are on the same page.
Domestically, Americans have failed to reach a consensus to launch a cold war with China. I fully agree with the opinion of an article published in the Wall Street Journal, written by Robert B. Zoellick, former World Bank president and US trade representative and deputy secretary of state. The article goes, "The proponents of a 'New Cold War' have declared their objections to China, but not what they plan to accomplish." It continues, "The New Cold Warriors can't contain China given its ties throughout the world; other countries won't join us." Washington's current international appeal completely differs from when NATO was established in 1949.
I have met Zoellick several times and admire his wisdom. He confessed that Washington's approach to Beijing at present "relies on confrontation and accusation," which is exactly what I want to express. What the US has launched against China is not a cold war, but a scold war. The people who started that are behaving like Don Quixote - They are picking up their spears, rushing toward the windmill, and acting as warriors.
Trump in February tweeted several times praising China's efforts in curbing the novel coronavirus. But as of mid-March, when the number of infected cases exceeded 10,000 in the US, he became restless and spared no efforts to pass the buck to China, in a bit to divert attention away from domestic criticism he was confronted with. He has to win reelection, otherwise he could be held accountable, as many former South Korean presidents have been.
Fearful of being labeled pro-China, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, also joined the scold war.
Hence, US media outlets have stories to report, and the emotions of Americans have been mobilized. Having been fooled by US politicians and their media, the US public, sadly, have almost ignored the fact that nearly 100,000 died as of Sunday due to COVID-19 in their own country and that the number is expected to continue to grow.
History shouldn't be written based on US politicians' lies. China has been left with no other options but to fight back. Since April, almost all Chinese media outlets fired a battle against the US government, especially against Pompeo, the true culprit of the decline of China-US ties. The scold war, a contest of truth and historical morality, is raging on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
However, the Chinese government has been restraining itself. Despite some diplomats' counterattacks, China's top leadership has been patient and tolerant. And China's care about the American people is sincere. According to the latest data of China's customs, from March 1 to May 5, China sent to the US at least 344 million surgical gloves, 44 million protective outfits, 6.75 million goggles, and about 7,500 ventilators. Till Sunday, China has sent at least 12 billion face masks to the US, Wang said during the press conference. Besides, the two countries' militaries have kept rationale as a new ballast stone to stabilize China-US relations.
This is it. The Trump administration has been finding fault with China for over three years, but it hasn't drastically changed anything. It launched a trade war against China, but eventually sat back at the negotiation table. It suppressed Chinese investment, but then favored some of the countries' other trading partners. It aimed to crack down on Chinese high-tech giant Huawei, but ended up enhancing the company's prestige and inciting China's determination and fighting will to develop technological autonomy.
That's why many Chinese netizens call President Trump "Jianguo," which literally translates as "help construct China." The term Jianguo shows Chinese people's confidence and optimism in this new era. China hasn't followed in the steps of Soviet Union, which was engaged in confrontations against the US. Quite the opposite, it has chosen to integrate itself within US' and world's interests. China to the US is what blood and air are to a person.
A friend of mine who is a medical professional made this contrasting metaphor: Comparing in size, the virus is as small to a person as a person is to our planet. He really meant that only in fiction can a person defeat the Earth with their bare hands. But in reality the tiny novel coronavirus has left a big mess to the human society.
When people in the future review history, they will find that the US started the scold war to destroy the due solidarity of the world's largest two economies. This left the two countries in a worst-case scenario for public opinion tensions.
The author is professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, and executive director of China-US People-to-People Exchange Research Center. His latest book is Great Power's Long March Road.firstname.lastname@example.org