The greatest international accord since WW II was the establishment of the United Nations (U.N.). A post-war new world order was quickly built according to the UN Charters. The U.N. consists of the General Assembly (GA) formed by all nation members and the security council of five major countries with veto power, the U.S., the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union), U.K., France and Republic of China, as the security anchor of the U.N. The U.N. system would have worked better if the U.S. and the Soviet Union (Russian Federation after 1991) were not locking heads against each other rigidly adhering to an ideological battle, capitalistic ‘democracy’ against communist ‘authoritarian socialism’. The stability and efficacy of the U.N. would be better if the representation of China in the U.N. and its security council was a smooth one. Initially China was represented by Republic of China (KMT Government, ROC), but ROC in a Chinese internal war lost the entire Mainland China to PRC (People’s Republic of China established in 1949 by Chinese Communist Party (CCP)), resulting in ROC retreated to the island province, Taiwan. The China seat in the U.N. was eventually corrected in 1971 by UN Resolution 2758 accepting PRC as the rightful representative replacing ROC. As a big war-torn nation, China struggled to develop her economy. She did succeed amazingly by lifting her one billion population above poverty (~2014) and making herself the key manufacturer for the world, setting an inspiring example for the UN members in the developing world. Today, China has become the number two economy in the world (approaching 80% of U.S. GDP) and a major if not number one trading partner with 130 nations. China has contributed her significant share of support to the U.N. in security, healthcare, trade as well as preservation of world cultural heritage. Naturally, China has earned her leadership position in the U.N. enjoying a substantial support from the U.N. members from Africa, South East Asia and South America, lately even from the small island countries in the Pacific.
The above historical account of China’s rise basically took place under the UN world order - post WW II rules established by the Western powers counting the Soviet Union as a Western power, but this could only explain partially why the U.S. felt threatened in her world leadership. The evolution of the U.S. China policy in the past seven decades could not be explained just by the rise of China in the last four decades. In a deeper analysis, one could find that the U.S. foreign policies in general were driven by U.S. interest first (every nation would do the same) but the strategies and methods used were quite uniquely American – driven by selfish, unilateral and superpower mentality. In this essay, we shall try to explain the root cause of the U.S. foreign policies as they have taken place, with focus on her China policy. The U.S. had acquired her superpower status at the end of WW II. She began to assume the world leader role despite of the challenge from the Soviet Union. The U.S. were instrumental in settling many world territorial issues (e.g. unilaterally on Okinawa) and establishing world trade and currency exchange rules (to her advantages). The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 (due to its economical failure) made the U.S. the only super-power in the world. The U.S. had gotten more used to getting her ways in foreign affairs. The U.S. would often challenge status quo or de facto international accord even initiate war if she deemed it benefitting the U.S. She would even challenge or disregard an UN agreement unilaterally. This behavior (formed habitually) is the principal cause of today’s U.S. irrational anti-China policy. It is true, China’s rise may be a threat to the interests of the U.S. from the competition standpoint, but her challenge to de facto international agreement (one China principle) and status quo (on Taiwan Strait) is the culprit for the deteriorating US-China relations heading to a disaster. In the following, we will provide evidences supporting the above claim and suggesting a change of behavior for avoiding a disastrous consequence.
China was a victim in WW II. After Japan surrendered, China became a victor having two allies, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, each had a “closer” relation with the KMT and CCP respectively. The civil war between KMT and CCP armies ended up giving PRC the control of Mainland and ROC retreat to Taiwan; each faction was somewhat influenced by the U.S. and the Soviet Union respectively. The leaders of the two sides, Mao Tze Dong and Chiang Kei Shek, wisely refused the Soviet Union and the U.S. to station their army in each’s territory. Both factions regarded their dispute a domestic matter. However, the U.S. China policy was driven by her national security strategy: maintaining the Taiwan Strait conflict in the name of peacekeeping but in reality sustaining the warring two parts of China. Post WW II, the U.S. occupied Japan and created a U.S. version government in Japan and signed a U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty binding Japan in line with the U.S. interest. ROC’s refusal of accepting U.S. aid of paying for her army and refusing US troops stationing in Taiwan essentially established a status quo with Mainland, that is, the unification issue would be subject to bilateral negotiation or peaceful settlement with no foreign interference. When Mainland China broke off with the Soviet Union, the unification issue should have been an internal matter, but the U.S. was never backed away from the Taiwan Strait matter, even today. When the U.N. passed the resolution 2758 in 1971 (ROC replaced by PRC) and in 1979 the U.S. recognized PRC and broke off diplomatic relation with ROC, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relation Act basically encouraging Taiwan to remain independent allowing U.S. to sell weapons to her. It was a plot of using Taiwan as a tool for challenging the One China principle and rattling the status quo of Taiwan Strait.
The U.S. defined the first island chain (South Korea, Japan, Okinawa and Taiwan) for containing the spread of communism (against North Korea, Russia and China), hence making Taiwan a strategic interest in the U.S. strategy. (Near the end of twentieth century, Taiwan’s KMT was splitting and several parties including the DPP emerged with encouragement by then KMT leader Lee Deng Hui (a pro-Japan KMT traitor who stirred up the Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-96). The U.S. sent two carriers to show support for Lee, another evidence of challenging the status quo of Taiwan Strait. At that time, the PRC navy and military power were nowhere near the level of the U.S. hence the crisis ended with Mainland shooting a few missiles as protest. Fast forward two decades to 2016, Trump won the Presidency using a ‘blame China’ campaign. After taking the White House, he not only launched a trade war and a technology sanction against China but also challenged the status quo of Taiwan Strait by having contact with Taiwan leader. When Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election, he continued Trump’s anti-China policy by doubling down on technology sanction, forming more military alliances in Indo-Pacific (AUKUS, QUAD, NATO-Asia) targeting China. Now the two parties in the U.S. compete in showing who is tougher on China without any rational reason. Once again, the U.S. played the Taiwan card to push the One China redline and to challenge the status quo of Taiwan Strait by insinuating a parallel between the Russia-Ukraine war and Taiwan Strait conflict and suggesting arming Taiwan for defending a potential invasion. The recent visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Pelosi, ignoring China's protest and warning, is another planned challenge to status quo and one China principle. But this time, China has responded with her real strength. China not only sanctioned Pelosi and her immediate family's access to China and doing business with China, she has conducted a well-executed air-sea real-fire 7-day military exercise surrounding the entire Taiwan island. No one including the U.S. dared to contest that. The U.S. carriers stayed away during the exercise to avoid any accidental skirmish.
China has risen and China has both economic and military power now. The fact that the U.S. must build multiple alliances to counter China already has given us a hint. To war with China will be a world war with little chance of winning. Russia, Iran, North Korea, andmany others are already siding with China against any U.S. plot. ASEAN nations and many countries in Africa and South America have expressed no desire in taking sides in a U.S.-China confrontation. So why should the U.S. take the risk? Besides, the U.S. never had full justification in targeting China as an enemy as she did to the Soviet. The Chinese history provided ample evidence that the Chinese people were never the aggressor. Contrasting China's Belt and Road Initiative with the 800+ U.S. military bases all over the world showed a clear evidence that China is an inspiring competitor not a military threat to the world. The U.S. must stop her irrational anti-China policy and refrain from challenging the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Otherwise, the next response from China will not just be a military exercise, it will be a war that the U.S. can ill afford.