US-China relations command attention today despite of hundreds of books and thousands of essays have already been written on the subject. Dr. Wordman alone under his real name has published six books and is ready to release his seventh one, entitled ‘Calculated Rivalry between the U.S. and China’, in a month or so. Readers may ask why is there a need to write about the title article in this column? The answer is that for every honest and factual article about China and/or US-China issue, there are tens or hundreds of papers spreading half-truth, biased opinions and fancy assertions without evidence by people who never lived or visited both nations with any significant length of time. In today’s media, quantity overwhelms quality, thus leading the subject matter into a confused state. Not necessarily everyone believes the false and somewhat corrupted mass media but people are confused and unable to articulate a correct and meaningful description of the US-China relations issue. In this article, the author hopes to make one more honest attempt to characterize the US-China relations from the perspective of the world at large from several angles or viewpoints. These views are discussed under nine separate categories.
(1) Obvious Direct Confrontations between the U.S. and China
Many political analysts would like to discuss US-China issue in terms of confrontations. We can summarize the direct confrontational issues under five categories: trade, sovereignty, human rights, military and ideology. The author places ideology at last simply to underscore the fact that China and the U.S. have transformed so much over past 100 years. China has long abandoned Stalin style communism and adopted socialism with endorsement of limited capitalism. On the other hand, the U.S. has expanded her capitalism along with her modified democracy to include more minority groups, blacks, women, immigrants and non-property holders with due incorporation of socialism. Human Rights and Military are really non-issue if not provoked with rhetoric. The efforts China is making to lift her citizens from poverty and terrorists threat have made the world including many Muslim/Islam nations recognizing China’s positive achievements. Any real military threat, say attack each other, has to be mutual and provoked by an aggressive party. As a superpower, the US is now perceived by the world including US allies as the provocative aggressive party. It is the US that has raised military tension in many parts of the world, for instance in South China Sea (SCS). There is really no sovereignty issue between the U.S. and China except when the U.S. chose to stick her nose into China’s sovereignty issue, such as Taiwan, Diaoyu Islands in ECS and SCS islands. The real direct confrontation is in the trade, a common problem between any two trading partners. As two largest economies in the world, the two countries having significant mutual dependence must understand that free trade means voluntary transaction, surplus or deficit, either one is nothing more than a domestic issue of managing resources and productivity. There is only one solution that is to constantly optimize one’s goods and services to reach and maintain a trade balance if possible in general, the tariff war initiated by Trump has not been viewed positively by the world.
(2) EU’s perspective on US-China Relations
Collectively, EU is the 3rd or 4th largest economy. Since the end of Cold War, EU perceives a different world stage where Russia has become less a security threat to EU nations and more an energy supplier to her needs. As a large economy, EU has trade issues with the U.S. and China, hence obviously EU desires to exercise independent diplomacy and trade negotiations with China rather than unconditionally accepting the demands from the U.S. on any of their bilateral trades or the EU-China trade. It is understandable that EU wishes to have a direct trade negotiation with China rather than being handcuffed by the U.S. through NATO forcing political and national security considerations onto EU-China trade negotiations. The 2020 year-end Investment agreement signed between EU and China is a clear manifestation of the above logic for the U.S.
(3) Even M.E. Has a Significant Influence on US-China Relations
The confrontation between Israel and the Arab world has been a millennium long issue. It is understandable for the U.S. to have a strong bias in supporting Israel. Trump’s one diplomatic achievement of making Israel and UAE establishing diplomatic relations is commendable. China is free to choose her own diplomatic strategy to maintain good relations with all states in the M.E. This is trade-driven perhaps, but it is also a rational consideration for the sake of her significant Muslim population in Qinghai and Xinjiang. There is a historical Muslim-Chinese relation over a millennium as well though it is different from the Christian-Islam history. Both the U.S. and China must respect each other’s foreign policies in the M.E. where some may be in agreement and some not. The world certainly sees that.
(4) Russia as an archenemy of the U.S.
Whether or not the U.S. should continue to hold the anti-communism flag against Russia, the leader of the communist Soviet Union, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union is a debatable foreign policy issue. Russia’s change is not as predictable as China’s based on history. On the other hand, China has experienced a stressful relationship with Russia from dependency to cautiously disengaging, to joining the West sanction against Russia to a recent cordial trading relationship; the recent Sino-Russia relationship has grown to be more friendly as China has risen more with her rapid economic development. Since Cold War ended, the U.S. still maintained an anti-Russia foreign policy mainly because Russia has maintained a mighty military force. The U.S. led the world with an imperial approach settling issues with war and regime change using the UN only as a tool to justify a military action if needed. During the Trump Administration, the U.S. elevated China to an enemy level openly as well as pushed Russia and China closer although they have not yet signed an ally agreement. The world including U.S. allies such as Japan and S. Korea does not see that as a good thing and wonders why the U.S. is pushing it? (To be continued)
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.