The U.S.-China relations has hit the bottom since the two nations ever had relations. There are numerous scholarly books about China policies and assessments on China's future in relation to the world development. Recently, the focus seems to shift to the confrontation between the two great nations as the U.S. officially designating China as her most serious competitor with policies and actions treating her as the enemy similar to targeting the Soviet Union as the enemy of a Cold War. The U.S. won the Cold War witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union, but she also faced a new world where China has become the fastest growing nation in all aspects. Naturally, the U.S. has shifted her foreign policies focusing on China, but one troubling sign seemed to be that the U.S. was not doing an honest reflection on what she did wrong and what China did right but putting the blame on her missing the attention on China and letting her grow strong. Hence the remedy seems to be accelerating the pace that the U.S. used to do in foreign policies against a rising power and hoping she would succeed in stopping China's rise.
China is a different country with 5000 years of history and with many periods as the strongest nation in the world. The U.S. is a young country with only 246 years of history, but with a very successful track record making her feel exceptional. When comes to foreign affairs and international relations, the U.S. obviously exhibited the following characteristics: 1. No respect for history, especially history beyond her own hence likely to bias her judgment on other countries such as China. 2. Being a self-centered strong nation being too used to get her way by unilateral actions. 3. Accepting and practicing hypocritical policies, for example, on religion, freedom, democracy and human rights, using double standards. As a Christian nation the U.S. often acts against Christian beliefs and values in foreign countries. As a country with slow progress of 250 years of still imperfect democracy, the U.S. expects others to copy her system instantly with no consideration of their history and cultural inheritance. Having history of human rights violation on Indians, Blacks, Asians and Mexicans and serious discrimination still present today, the U.S. often waves the HR flag to interfere the domestic issues in other countries to the point of making regime change. These U.S. foreign policies have alienated the majority of countries in the UN, hence making the U.S. as an unsupported country.
Today, the U.S. is being challenged by China that should be viewed as an opportunity to make an honest thorough reflection on her foreign policies and international relations, particularly with China. This task is critical and difficult from psychological point of view, but as a great nation it must be done, as we know confrontation with the threat of war is not a rational option. This article would like to make an attempt to do a self-reflection on the U.S. foreign policies and US-China relations for one purpose only, that is to stimulate our scholars and experts to think about the reflection. Hopefully the end result will make the U.S. to revise her current policy and course of action to deal with China. We shall use a number of qualifiers such as O, honorable, M, mutually beneficial, N, necessity, S, selfish or self-centered, C, calculated. D, double standard, and H, hypocritical to characterize our past U.S. policies in the past century or so. This qualitative calibration of our past foreign policies shall lead scholars to think deeper on the changing US-China relations and come up with an honest assessment and hopefully a guide to a correct China policy.
Chronologically, we can list our major foreign policies and characterize them with impact on China in mind using the above qualifiers as follows:
1. 1823 Monroe Doctrine (OMSD)
2. 1900 Joined Eight Nations to Invade China (SH)
3. 1914 WW I (SC)
4. 1929-39 Depression and U.S. Tariff to Protect Jobs (NS)
5. 1942-5 WW 2 (ONSCH)
6. 1942-79 ROC-KMT/Taiwan (OMSC)
7. 1948-52 Marshall Plan (OMNSC)
8. 1950-53 Korean War (SCH)
9. 1955-75 Vietnam War (SCH)
10. 1971-79 PRC-Nixon-Carter (MNSCD)
11, 1945-62-91 Cold War with the Soviet Union with Cuban Crisis (ONSC)
12. 1950-2020 American Policy on Tibet and HR (SCDH)
13. 1997-2019 Return of Hong Kong to China by UK – HK Issue (SCDH)
14. 2018-2021 U.S.-China Trade War First Phase (NSC)
15. 2019-2022 U.S. Technology Sanction against China (SCDH)
16. 2020-2022 Xinjiang Sanction against China (SCDH)
17. 1947-2022 US China Policy Ignoring China Peaceful Rise as a Fact-China's Departure from Soviet Union(1960)-SCO(2001)-Dialoque Organization(2002)-BRICS(2009)-AIIB-BRI(2013-2022) (MNSCDH)
18. 1950-2022 NATO against Soviet Union/Russia- Kosvo-Afghanistan-Iraq-Libiya-Iran-Ukraine (SCDH)
The above list is certainly an oversimplified tabulation with not enough details on each foreign policy and what events exactly happened. But they are well known topics that most people should be familiar with. The qualifiers are not intended to place right or wrong judgment since foreign policies are not easily judged by moral standards. However, the list provides logical base to conclude that the U.S. China policy over the years have largely driven by U.S. self-centered or selfish considerations, primarily with the goal to keep the supremacy of the U.S. In diplomatic language, it is saying that the U.S. would like to keep a rule-based world order based on her rules and calculations. The U.S. has been used to make the rules and China and some others are now questioning those unilaterally determined rules. When the rules are fair to all and beneficial to participants, then there will be no problem. When countries rise and find the rules not fair or not advantageous to them, they will demand new rules to be determined by multilateral parties. The present U.S.-China tension is fundamentally rooted in this cause.
Regarding China's rapid rise and her demand for a fair role on the world stage, so far, the U.S. essentially has taken a rigid position that the U.S. expects to maintain the rules. The U.S. will apply sanctions to enforce the rules or pull out of the organization. The latter threat was quite effective when the U.S. commanded nearly 40% of the world economy and maintained a military power no one could challenge. However, since China has risen to be the number two economy of the world, it is natural that she is concerned about the rules that will limit her growth. In a plain language, China wishes to have her citizens to elevate to economic middle class status, that means China will advance further in technology elevating her manufacturing industry to higher technology levels pressuring the U.S. The fact that China has already moved to the forefront in 5G, quantum computing and communication as well as AI technology which essentially making China the world's number one hi-tech manufacturing country not just a dominant low-tech manufacturing country. This of course is a threat to the U.S. and her high-tech industries.
The present U.S. China policy is targeting China as a hegemonic enemy assuming she will behave exactly as the U.S. has been. This assumption will lead the two competing nations into the Thucydides trap to war as prescribed by the hegemony theory. However, the U.S. has ignored the fact that China has risen peacefully without launching wars or through territory expansion, therefore, there must be peaceful ways of competing between these two great countries, each blessed with rich resources and separated by an ocean.