Congressman John Katko (R-NY-24) wrote to President Biden suggesting boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) opposed athletes boycotting but not other form of boycotting Olympics. This prompted me to write this column, Apply Olympic Spirit to Global Competition and International Relations.
“What does the USA want from China and what does China want from the U.S. when they talked in Alaska (March 18-19, 2021)?” was posted on Quora. It received many responses, but not many specific answers. Understandably it is a tough question to answer, even for seasoned international relations experts. Nations usually discloses, through white papers, regarding general national security issues, defense concerns, and national development plan but rarely identifies specific demands on specific nation. The specifics are national secrets, highly variable as strategic situation varies in real time. Therefore, the answer to the above question depends intimately on the events happened prior to the meeting, including the history of the US-China relations up to the new Biden Administration’s tentative ‘China Strategy’, still experimental and evolving to be a firm ‘China Policy’. From this angle, a foreign affairs observer could only speculate an answer to the above question based on known facts and his logical interpretation. Hopefully such an exercise may shed some light on how the two great nations may repair and improve their competitive relations.
The U.S. (Secretary of State, Antony Blinken and WH National Security Adviser, Jack Sullivan) invited China (Yang Jiechi, Central Committee/ Foreign Affairs and Wang Yi, National Affairs Adviser/Foreign Minister) to have a high level 2+2 meeting at Anchorage following two similar 2+2 meetings held in Tokyo (U.S. and Japan) and in Soul (U.S. and South Korea). The purpose and significance of these two meetings were revealed as U.S. attempt to solidify a ‘Quad’ alliance (US-Australia-Japan-S. Korea or quad+ including India, Vietnam and others) targeting at suppressing China’s rise. These meetings were first step to assess the likelihood of building the ‘Alliance’ model to confront China.
Judging from the Pre-meeting announcement, events happened at Anchorage and post 2+2 press conferences, we may deduce an answer for ‘What the U.S. wanted from China at the Anchorage meeting’ as follows:
I. China’s concession on trade issues.
II. China’s pledge in slowing down development including China’s agreement on stopping technology challenge (competition such as 5G, etc.).
III. Pushing China’s red-lines in SCS, ECS and the Taiwan Strait.
IV. Reaching a currency policy agreement with China to avoid a currency war.
On the question, ‘What China wanted from the U.S. at the Anchorage meeting?’, we may deduce the following answer:
I. Renewing a cordial dialogue which was destroyed by the Trump Administration.
II. Stopping smearing and rhetoric against China.
III. Expressing each other’s main concerns and red-lines.
IV. Defining method and schedule for broad communication channels between the two nations.
China came to Anchorage with low expectation but sincere hope to return the U.S.-China relation to a normal state rather than enduring a hostile ‘blame game’ or a Cold War. However, the other 2+2 meetings especially the Tokyo one raised a big red flag. Japan touched China’s sovereignty issue with Japan's ambitious claim of the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku). The U.S. had long been neutral on this touchy issue but this time she said that the US-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty would apply to those islands. In addition, the day before the Anchorage meeting, the U.S. announced sanctions against a few Hong Kong (HK) officials for their role in maintaining law and order during HK riots, a slap on the 2+2 guests' faces.
The last straw breaking the camel’s back was Blinken and Sullivan’s opening remarks, sparing any pleasantry and openly charging China violating human rights, using Xinjiang, HK, Tibet and Taiwan in a vicious manner with no concrete evidence. This not only angered the Chinese delegates but totally negated what China had hoped to achieve at this meeting. Consequently, China unprecedentedly lashed out sharp counter attacks (righteously saying the U.S. has no right to lecture China) against the U.S. with US Human Rights violations and double standards. Obviously, this surprised Blinken and Sullivan; their ‘overtime’ response and manipulation of the presence of media gave the Chinese delegation further ammunition charging the U.S. violating democracy and freedom of speech.
The closed- door sessions later might have calmed the dialogue down judging from the mild press statements at the end. China explicitly denied the US condescending manner thus no concrete positive agreement was no surprise. As a US citizen-observer of foreign affairs, relying less on ‘inside’ information but more ‘historical’ data and pure common ‘justice’ sense, I would say that the U.S. erred in poking those decade/century old red-line issues Tibet was a seven-decade charge led by the West; each decade past, Tibetans’ lives got better. Only the cult-like monks lost their political power. The U.S. is barking uselessly as China has successfully lifted poverty in Tibet making its neighbors in India envious. Xinjiang HR issue was hyped by former SOS Pompeo using ‘possibly’ CIA stories to pin horrible charges like “concentration camp” and “genocide” on China. The fact that the Uighur population grew 25% (vs 2% for the Han), the Xinjiang cotton industry became the top cotton producer in the world in two decades and China maintained a good relation with most Muslim countries simply blew the fabricated story (such as one admitted by BBC) out of the water.
HK is another ridiculous issue that the U.S. and the U.K. shamelessly lecture on a moral pedestal. Legally HK belongs to China after its return to China in 1997. HK people from having zero political rights to having the most autonomous local government in the world, except military defense, she even has control of her currency. When HK riots happened and threatened her security, China did not sent troops to suppress but simply legislated national security laws to manage the riots successfully. No country had managed riots better than HK, including the U.S. dealing with her Wall Street and Capitol riots.
Taiwan is another seven decade issue, rightly classified as China’s domestic problem. Why must the U.S., a giant nation and superpower, use alliance, particularly Taiwan, a small island, to deal with China’s rising competitive power? The U.S. strategists thought they could use Taiwan to pressure China, but what really happened was that the pro-independence political faction in Taiwan was manipulating the U.S. government for the benefit of power-hunger Taiwanese politicians. They lobbied and bribed foreign politicians to support their cause (some got caught). Strangely, the U.S. would play along with Taiwan’s ‘diplomacy rescue’ game (desperately trying to hold on the 15 small countries' wavering diplomatic relation with Taiwan) by sneaking an US ambassador to Palau in Palau President's travel team to visit Taiwan. Does the U.S. really believe that to provoke China to use force to unite Taiwan is the solution to stopping the U.S. decline on the world stage?
What are the above events telling us Americans? Any patriotic American can see that, the U.S. seems to be losing her marbles; she is losing prestige and respect world wide. We raise the big flags of Democracy, Freedom and HR; they actually cover our shadows so we can shout slogans and doing the opposite at the same time. What we Americans should do is standing in front of a big flag of Justice; honoring justice is righteously preaching: 'do what we say and do' not 'do what we say but don’t do what we do'. Hypocrisy and double standards are not on the flag of Justice.
Boycotting Olympics to be held in China is a cowardly idea, Americans have performed very well in Olympics and Americans can compete and win gold medals. In fact, we should all treasure the real spirit of Olympics: Everyone competes honorably and fairly obeying rules defined by all participating nations. We should cooperate in training and development so that we all improve in our ability and performance. When we compete, we produce winners, Champions and runner ups. Competitions raise everyone’s performance level, not just the winner's. If we are champions we should try to defend them by working and training harder, if we lost, we would try again next turn and win back our titles. That is the Olympic spirit. That spirit should be applied to global competition and international relations.