The readers of the U.S.-China Forum are certainly familiar with the forum’s political position; that is it advocates true democracy, opposes hegemony, and promotes peaceful coexistence between the U.S. and China. On the issue of China policy, the Forum is very clear in its position of honoring the true one-China policy thus often advising the U.S. government to stop the hypocritical “fuzzy” Taiwan strategy which essentially opposes and interferes with China’s peaceful reunification plan with Taiwan. Mainland China and Taiwan had maintained a truce since 1949 when China was split and governed by two parties (governments. Other than an artillery battle in 1958 over the Quemoy island near the Fujian province northwest away from Taiwan, the two sides have maintained peace and a growing trade relationship till now. China’s proposed political solution - 'One Country and Two Political Systems' is the best approach for achieving peaceful reunification. In fact, it shares the same spirit as the U.S. constitution guaranteeing its fifty states have their own state legislation and laws. How else can people join a federation or union peacefully without the principle of 'one country and multiple systems'? The fact that Hong Kong after being a British colony for over a century can return to China and enjoy growing prosperity, electoral democracy, and a fairer judicial system gives much credit to China’s political system. While China is rising economically and militarily, she offers ALL Chinese people dignity and pride far better than when she was a victim of colonial powers.
The new book, “The Decline of the U.S. Hegemony” authored by Mr. Guan Zhong, a former Chief of Examination Yuan in Taiwan (in the same ranking as the Premier of the Executive Yuan, Chief of the Legislative Yuan, Chief of the Judicial Yuan and Chief of Inspection Yuan), is a timely book. This book is written from the perspective of Taiwan’s political scholars who disagree with the present Taiwan Administration’s anti-China tactics (embracing the U.S. anti-China strategy blindly). The book cites many facts and shares similar views with many authors who publish in this U.S.-China forum. Hence, I am devoting this column to making an introduction to Mr. Guan’s book and offering a few comments of my own.
Mr. Guan has attributed the U.S. decline to three main causes that existed in the last two decades or so. The first cause was the U.S. Middle East policy, in particular, its reaction to the 911 terrorist attack followed with its aggressive policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Over two decades and several wars, the U.S. spent seven or eight trillion U.S. dollars but essentially got nothing significant in return. The U.S. eventually withdrew from Afghanistan abandoning the regime it established. The second cause was the financial crisis in 2008 which evaporated over sixty trillion U.S. assets, a devastating damage to the U.S. and world economy. The U.S. economy has been in decline over the last forty years, transforming away from manufacturing, stressed by bloated government budget and military spending, and further damaged by the financial crisis. The U.S. essentially had lost its middle class in 2015 with no sign of revival. Guan attributed the third cause to the COVID pandemic which exhibited the incompetence and inefficiency of the government resulting in over one million death and a shattered workforce. The U.S. government is basically in anxiety (concerned about its decline and China’s rapid rise) with no clear means to solve its problems. The antagonistic behavior against China in trade, technology sanctions and decoupling in the supply chain is a manifestation of its anxiety.
In an interview, Guan was asked about how would the U.S. decline affect the future of Taiwan, He made observations on how the U.S. would engage in wars, that could be characterized by the following three conditions: 1. The U.S. only engages in a limited war with the assurance of winning, 2. The U.S. would find surrogates to start a war and 3. The U.S. would only fight small nations never big countries. Therefore, in his view, he would not believe that the U.S. would fight for Taiwan in a Taiwan Strait crisis. He especially pointed out that the Russian-Ukraine war had amply shown that the U.S. had a unique definition of 'being a friend’. The Ukraine war made people in Taiwan believe less that the U.S. would ever fight for Taiwan. He also referred to the U.S. think tank analysis of the U.S.-China war which had always shown unfavorable results to the U.S., thus the U.S. would never engage in a war with China, certainly not over Taiwan.
There are many books written in the West about the U.S. and China including the eight books this author contributed in the past eight years. One can roughly sort these U.S.-China books into three categories: one, anti-China, advocating ‘China collapse’ and nitpicking China's problems; two, pro-America, advocating democracy and human rights and exaggerating China's misdeeds; and the third category, advocating factual analysis with emphasis on history and principles. I will place Guan’s book in category three even though its focus is on the decline of U.S. hegemony. Guan is by no means the first person to notice the U.S. decline, however, he is looking through the Taiwan lens. Taiwan's current Administration considers itself as an ally of the U.S., aligned with the ideology of anti-communism and democracy defender. Mr. Guan lives in Taiwan, perhaps, he finds it compelling to write the book to warn his fellow citizens not to blindly to place trust completely in the U.S. This author agrees with that assessment. So I would recommend this book to readers who are more concerned about the future of Taiwan than the future of the U.S. The readers should focus on
the facts Mr. Guan cited and judge on whether they are factual and convincing especially on the issue: Should Taiwan place its future in the hands of the U.S.
Presently, the U.S. media is raging an anti-China media war to the point that fake news and false reports are appearing daily. If you ever have doubts about the ‘genocide of Uyghurs’ story or the ‘COVID was created by China’ claim, then we must ask why the U.S. does what it does in foreign policy and economic strategy. In its 250 years of history, the U.S. did rise to be a superpower even briefly as the only superpower in the world. But in the past half-century, the U.S. is in decline, we may correlate the facts that contributed to the rise and decline of the U.S., but more importantly we need to get to the root of the problem. Many scholars including Guan described that the U.S. foreign policy and economic strategy are based on self-interest not on the noble principles of political philosophy (such as freedom, democracy and human rights), basically hypocritical behavior. One cannot fault a nation to be selfish. However, to what degree a nation can be hypocritical to fulfill its selfish goals? This is a moral issue as well as a political philosophy matter deserving some discussion.
The author would like to throw out a story to lead readers to think about the moral issue. Let us compare the U.S. hegemony behavior with the conduct of high-sea pirates. They are strikingly similar. The pirate bands form a group and elect a leader. They loot properties by force and divide the captured goods among themselves. They savagely kill their victims out of selfish 'economic' reasons so they don't have to share resources (food, water and supply) with the victims. The pirate system and economy started a few centuries ago (English became the naval empire). The piracy mentality persisted throughout the West in the colonial days. The Americans, a direct descent from the Anglo-Saxon immigrants, inherited piracy and took to America, killed the native Indians and practiced looting, and evolved piracy into hegemony. Through WW I and II, the U.S. became stronger and rose to be a superpower. As explained by Guan and many others, the U.S. is now in decline. Will the U.S. wake up from the piracy mentality and learn something from the Confucius philosophy of national governance and diplomacy? We hope they do! (Ref. The invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by Peter T. Leeson, Professor at George Mason University.)
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.