The Puzzle of the Century
Why can't the U.S. led West accept China? This is the biggest puzzle in my mind. I have devoted more than a decade of my life to understand and resolve this puzzle. I have spent nearly a decade to observe the U.S.-China relations. I have worked very hard as a weekly columnist writing articles, English and Chinese, to analyze current events and issues related to the U.S. and China with the purpose of exposing, understanding and resolving this puzzle. However, China has been cast as a threat and designated as the most critical competitor of the U.S. today. The U.S. - China relations have gone from a drug trader-addict business relation to mutual recognition and respect over world wars to a serious engagement reaching a Chimerica symbiotic trade and finance relationship then to a ‘China Threat’ stance which is not only hostile but also brutal in diplomatic relationship leading to potential fatal consequences. Last month, I suffered a heart attack, although I was saved by a cardio-surgery but I was told that I had to avoid a stressful life. Therefore, I decided to write an open letter to the world about the burdensome and stressful puzzle in my mind, which is really a puzzle of the century: Why can't the West accept China? This has been the main source of my mental stress. I hope that I can relieve my stress by openly tossing the burden of solving this puzzle to the world, praying that it will be solved before my demise.
Starting from the Present
Presently the world is in great tension. The Russian-Ukraine war has lasted more than three months still escalating with the threat of turning into a nuclear war. The background of the Russian-Ukraine confrontation is very complex involving race, religion, sovereignty and external influence from the U.S., NATO and EU, but the main issue is hinged on national security. Russia is concerned with NATO's continuous expansion encircling her with military bases and guided missiles. The fact that Ukraine, as a close neighbor of Russia, wants to become a NATO member certainly puts Moscow under a national security threat. Russia took advantage of the two states in the east of Ukraine (Donetsk and Luthansk), their seeking support for their Declaration of Independence after eight years of revolutionary war. Russia’s support for the two pro-Russia states are understandable but sending troops into Ukraine does raise international concern. What has followed causes more international dispute. Instead of seeking an immediate withdrawal of the Russian troops and a cease fire between Ukraine and Russia, the U.S.-NATO-EU cheered Ukraine on to engage Russia in war. Soon, the war spread out from the East to West and North to South. The Alliances tried to unite the world to sanction Russia with maximum strength from trade to currency transactions and continued with escalated military support to Ukraine. The objective became clear that is to prolong the war to make Russia cave under economic stress.
The U.S. Grand Strategy of ‘Targeting Enemy’
The U.S. has become a superpower since WW II and has taken on the role as the world leader for rebuilding the free world against the communists. She adopted the ‘targeting enemy’ as her national (security) strategy. She first targeted the Soviet Union as the enemy against the expansion of communism. In leading the fight, her ‘targeting enemy’ strategy evolved to include an element of ‘maintaining supremacy’ justified by the concept that maintaining the leadership requiring maintenances of supremacy. The concept may be plausible in principle, but in reality, there is limitation in maintaining supremacy since competition between nations always happens whether among ideologically friendly or hostile nations. A clear example is Japan. Japan was a defeated enemy of WW II, occupied by the U.S., but Japan was literally nursed back by the U.S. post WW II. With no defense burden, Japan focused all her energy on economic development. Japan worked hard and good at it by copying the U.S. in technology, marketing and enterprising soon with her GDP approaching a significant percentage of that of the U.S. That is why the Plaza Accord took place in 1986. Japan was forced to tailor her aggressive enterprising and conglomerate expansion and a currency appreciation. The U.S. maintained her supremacy and Japan’s economy stayed stagnant for decades to follow.
The Big Win over the Soviet Union
In late 1990, the Soviet Union was disintegrated as its economy collapsed despite of its strong military might with advanced technologies. This is the big victory for the West led by the U.S. It came in a long way with the ‘Targeting Enemy’ strategy. The U.S. had ignored the ‘ideology’ issue to ally with China and Asian economic power regions in her ‘Targeting Soviet’ strategy. Under decades of isolation, the Soviet Union struggled with its economy and some of her key leaders believed that their political federation system was to blame. They disintegrated the Union and wanted to join the West. However, the West welcomed the reunification of the West and East Germany but refused to accept Russia into the West, adopting a strategy of selectively absorbing the disintegrated former Soviet Union states into NATO as a military alliance against Russia even though the Warsaw Pact was disbanded. European Union was formed in November 1, 1993 and Russia was blocked to be a member. Yeltsin in 1992 has expressed desire to join NATO and Putin in his 2000 election for presidency had said: “Russia is part of European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. It is hard for me to visualize NATO as an enemy.” Today’s Russian-Ukraine War is a direct consequence of a continued hostile NATO expansion policy based on the U.S. “Targeting Russia” strategy.
The Post Cold War Extension of “Targeting Enemy” Strategy and Expansion of NATO
The U.S. has continued her national security strategy of targeting enemy. The collapse of the Soviet Union supposedly would make NATO unnecessary post-Cold War, but the concerns of nuclear power threat from Russia and the emergence of European Union for self-determination diluting the U.S. influence in Europe essentially won over the arguments that NATO was needed despite of the disbanding of the WARSAW pact. President Clinton proposed the Partnership for Peace (PFP) plan to pivot the old NATO to a new NATO under the leadership of the U.S. by absorbing more members. The ‘Targeting Russia’ strategy was continued with new NATO members being recruited even though Russia was under an economic stress. When the 9-11-2001 terrorist attack hit the U.S. soil (New York World Trade Center), the U.S. foreign policy pivoted to fighting the spread of terrorism which placed the U.S. attention, (President Bush) to Middle East and Afghanistan but NATO were continued to expand with 3 (by 1997) and 7 more (by 2004) new members, a total of 30 members today from America, Europe, Africa and Asia. This expansion of NATO under the ‘Targeting Enemy’ strategy not only triggered the Russia-Ukraine war but also raised the danger of a world war, a nuclear world war.
‘Targeting Enemy’ to ‘Targeting Enemies’
9-11 tragedy destined 21st century to be a treacherous century, the U.S. has added ‘terrorism’ in addition to ‘Russia’ as the U.S. national targeted enemies. When the financial crisis occurred in 2008-2009, the U.S. was nearly bankrupt, China as the largest creditor of U.S. debt came to her rescue. In return, the U.S. recognized China as her competitor. President Obama initiated the ‘Pivot to Asia’ foreign policy with the goal of ‘balancing the power’ in Asia. President Trump followed the ‘targeting China” strategy but with his personal style of tactics focusing on balancing trade and economic expansion with technology and industrial sanctions. President Biden, differed from Trump in nearly all domestic issues, selected to maintain ‘targeting China’ as the U.S. national security strategy with a significant twist on tactics. Instead of going it alone as Trump did it, Biden tried to orchestrate an alliance approach to unite all her Allies to form an anti-China group in trade, technology, military and all aspects of economic development and geopolitical matters. Hence, China has in reality become one additional enemy in the U.S. ‘Targeting Enemy’ strategy even though diplomatically China is officially termed as the most critical competitor. From targeting enemy (Russia) to targeting enemies requires a deep commitment of the entire nation which may not be prepared to accept it psychologically. The Biden Administration seems to be successful in mobilizing the U.S. media forces to support such a strategy.
“The Present Danger” Drives An Open Confrontation - A Warm War
Defining China as ‘the present danger’ essentially declares an open confrontation with China, a warm war worse than the Cold War. However, the rationale behind that definition was false. Obama made the statement that if all Chinese people were living a better life, the Earth could not sustain it. (He meant the U.S.) A discriminatory remark came from a black America president really illustrated that the racial discrimination problem was deep rooted in the U.S. Why shouldn’t the Chinese and all people in the developing countries live a better life? The Chinese leaders did use ‘better life’ to inspire their people to work hard to earn their better living. They did stand behind the third world to collaborate with them in economic development. But they are crushed by the West media’s ‘China Threat’ narrative. Perhaps, the Chinese people must present a more effective counter argument to the U.S. led narrative. Instead of begging for Justice by saying that ‘we are people too, we also deserve to strive for middle class living and we are peaceful people with no intention of colonizing others', they should speak bluntly with the language that the West can easily understand.
China is not afraid of a warm war, win or lose!
The China threat theory the U.S. led media promotes is quite overwhelming despite of the fact that China does not initiate wars nor expand in military bases. Her Belt and Road initiative (BRI) was better than the Marshall plan and any Western AID that left military bases behind or strings attached. China should challenge the West narrative to think about the consequences of the ‘targeting China’ strategy. If China were defeated, what would happen to the world? The Chinese people not only is a large percent of the world’s population, they are known to be the most diligent and resilient people when comes to stress and oppression. When China fails, for sure several other countries will fail together, the third world will be far worst off. The world economy will collapse. No one including the West will have a better life. What if China wins the confrontation? Chinese people are no longer living in 19th century, there are more Chinese educated people attuned to twenty first century than the entire continent of America or Europe, just counting the college graduates they have each year. It is no accident that China has the best national infrastructure in the world. What if the U.S. loses in the warm war? The Chinese would not colonize any other country but the losers would go backwards decades economically. If China wins, the third world will win as well. The Earth will be saved in a faster pace if China wins, simply judging on her environment and climate policies striving for efficiency and limiting waste.
Accepting China May Be A Blessing
The current narrative on ‘China Threat’ has no rational basis but selfish and discriminatory notions. China’s rise is as natural as the U.S. has risen in the last two centuries. In the twenty first century, the world has changed naturally as well as culturally. The rise of China is hinged on her history, culture and human characteristics. China’s fast rise is not a result of war or aggression. China’s success is a good example for the world. China is a savior of the mankind (lifting nearly a billion people above poverty and exporting infrastructure technology to the developing world) and not a demon of the world (never initiated a war). We may conclude with the following statements to say that accepting China May be a blessing for the world:
I. China’s rise is not a threat environmentally or ideologically (she never exported ideology). With her large population and dedicated effort, China may save the world. Her BRI program, desert to forest conversion, growing crops in salt-water, renewable energy projects, … are just few examples.
II. China rose despite of the West media’s smear and discrimination. Her success stories are inspiring the third world and only making small-minded nations jealous. China is the number one trading partner with over one hundred nations.
III. The motive of the West in promoting Anti-China campaign is ill grounded. Accepting China and her success will help eliminating selfishness and racial discrimination that are the twin evils in human society.
IV. China’s strive for better life is not based on suppressing others’ chance for living a better life. Mutual prosperity based on mutual collaboration is their motto as can be seen from many collaborative developmental projects.
V. China’s notion that all humankind is ‘one body’ with a ‘common destiny’ is a sacred philosophy for her and the world, compared to many empty slogans on human rights. The world should embrace the concept of one body and common destiny. China’s ability in lifting millions from poverty and developing space program for peaceful purpose may be examples for steering the world to cooperation than focusing on military competition or Space War.