Should we Americans let China have global aspiration is a weighty question, I am afraid that I have not seen enough think tank work to first clarify what is global aspiration? Do we have a double standard under hypocrisy: I can have it but you can’t or I did it but no one else should do it. Should the U.S. contain China simply because China would someday become the number one economy in the world? Why China cannot use her wealth to aid Africa, Latin America, etc. to have more ‘say’ on the world stage? Was it because that we Americans cannot face competition? Some blame China to have succeeded in her economical development by unfair practice, but in my opinion, it is a little too late and too naïve at this point. Reviewing history, one notes that there was no shortage of luring technologies (through copying and/or using market share to obtain technology) by one country from the other. Just tracking the recent few centuries one can see that Japan and the West have absorbed technologies from China; more recently the U.S. from the UK and Europe; then Japan and EU countries from the U.S.; S. Korea and China from Japan and the U.S. and now China is worrying other countries may copy her technologies. The fact that China applies and is granted the highest number of patents each year is a direct proof that when you don’t have technologies you must get them to survive and when you have them you worry about losing them. Is there a cure for this cycle, unfortunately, the only solution is to keep developing new technologies to stay ahead. That is what the U.S. must do and what China wants to do as well.
As stated earlier, the ‘how can’ question, is a lot easier to answer. Yes, if the West were united ( like the eight nations united to invade China in 1800’s) and determined, perhaps, they could contain China’s rise or might slow her down. However, two things have changed, first, China is no longer a weak nation like the Qing Dynasty and second, the West has less reason to gang up together to contain China for their own good. The West now need China more than any other country (even the U.S.) to sustain their economy and world stability; especially, the West’s anti-Russia legacy strategy has driven Russia to be closer to China, a complete reversal of the global politics from one and half century ago. UK is now exiting EU and EU is struggling economically with some countries facing bankruptcy. What is the motivation for France or Germany and other EU small nations to engage an all-out containment strategy against China? The current US–led policy of containing Russia built over seven decades is falling apart as the energy not gun power dictates the stability of a country. The use and effectiveness of NATO is being questioned. (The U.S. seems no longer willing to foot most of the NATO cost) Why should UK and EU unite together with the U.S. to counter Russia (which holds the energy supply to EU) and stop the rise of China (which is supporting the global economy) just to keep the U.S. in world leadership? The current U.S. Administration’s self-centered America First Policy cast more doubt on the wisdom of an anti-China policy. After all, China’s aspiration of building one Belt and One Road (Belt and Road initiative, BRI) seems to be a peaceful win-win program for all participants. The number of nation participants in BRI especially the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) is a testimony to the fact that not many nations are motivated to join an anti-China camp.
It is rather unfortunate that the current U.S. Administration is driving an anti-China strategy based on outdated arguments (anti-communism rhetoric), ignoring the changing reality (world transformation) and pacifying a real need of self-examination (what did the U.S. do wrong?). The decline of the U.S. influence on the world stage is not caused by the rise of China. The US influence decline was gradual and China’s rise was rapid, perhaps in contrast, some would use China as the scapegoat. In all honesty, the fundamental reason is that the U.S. does not accept and face the reality. The U.S. loses industry by industry mainly due to her own failed policies. The U.S. favors financial industry over manufacturing, such as textile, steel, aluminum, auto, etc, etc created her economical problems which can hardly be blamed on others. In fact, many other countries following the U.S. economic model suffer the same consequences. Even China herself faces debt financing problems (quantitative easing for example) similar to the U.S. Actually, managing nations just like managing a corporation, the U.S. must focus on the competitiveness issue, not walking away from the global market but engaging it and finding complimentary products and services for the world. China must maintain her competiveness as well; the U.S. must view China as a vibrant partner to develop win-win collaboration rather than view China as a scapegoat for her failures. In the end, a crippled China does not mean a healthier U.S. One thing that does make the present world different from the past as the technology advances. The manufacturing processes become more complicated subject to material and skill dependencies often available from other countries. Therefore, division of labor becomes necessary practice which encourages international cooperation to produce the most cost effective products.
Out of G8, China is the only country that has risen without applying invasion or practicing colonialism to other countries. China built the Great Wall to keep out invaders that is a deep rooted philosophy in the minds of Chinese. Making an assumption that China is going to dominate the world with bad consequences (comparing to what the U.S. has done as the world leader) is an unfair and unproven notion. The West invited China into WTO after years of rejection but China persevered and thrived as a WTO member. Many countries benefitted from WTO and some still struggling but there is no proof that under WTO rules it is a zero-sum economic game. In a nuclear world, using military power to settle disputes especially among big nations with nuclear power is not an option. Clearly, nations must work with international bodies to resolve issues. Hence, ‘should the West contain China’s global aspiration’ is not really the question to address, the real question is how can we strengthen the world bodies, the U.N., WTO, or the like to allow all countries to compete under the same rules with their own global aspirations. This must be done under the framework of global democracy. The West has created the United Nations and embraced democracy for its operating principles. Democracy has its value and deficiencies but it is a peaceful means to settle things. All nations have no choice but to work with the existing system and try to improve it while they can. Therefore, it is fair to say that no one should contain another country’s global aspiration unless the aspiration is proven to be harmful to the world. (Part II)