The US-China relation has evolved several turns from enemies to partners now changing again. The U.S. China policy naturally is a corollary of the U.S. foreign policy. Recently, the U.S. is switching her China policy towards targeting China as a competitive opponent causing concerns in the world. This essay does a review of the evolution of the U.S. China policy and makes comments. It appears that the U.S. China policy has become ‘transparent’ to the public for its lack of logic and short-sighted with no long-term objectives.
The Chinese government’s training and job placement program for Xinjiang Muslims are accused by U.S. media as concentration camps which is far from the truth. While many countries including the U.S. are having Muslim refugee issues, China with long borders with Muslim world is taking a progressive approach to make her Muslim minority community to live better so they can resist the extreme Islamism and terrorists’ infiltration. Comes to China, the U.S. media has become so transparent lately in political propaganda that the mass media publish more questionable articles bashing Xinjiang Muslim training camps than revealing problems of any Muslim refugee camps in this country or in Europe. China used to be regarded as one voice nation and a propaganda machine advocating her ideology, but her change is obvious for the better today. Now China invites scholars and political analysts to her media (for example China Global Television Network) to voice their opinions debating issues such as climate change and environmental protection and correcting the U.S. media’s fake-news reporting on China.
China’s military build-up can be easily understood from Sun Tzu’s philosophy as more for defensive and reactionary to provocation. The South China Sea (SCS) situation is clearly a good example. The provocation of a law suit (to an arbitrary arbitration court) on SCS island jurisdiction and the U.S. maneuver of freedom of navigation in SCS simply reminded China’s vulnerability of having 60% of her trade goods going through SCS without protection. The presence of the U.S. navy posing military strength necessitates China to have some insurance of freedom of navigation of merchant vessels destined to her ports. It turns out by fortifying a few islands in SCS is a much better and more effective strategy than constructing expensive battle carriers to compete with any threatening powerful navy.
Trade is important to China. The trade war initiated by the U.S. certainly will harm China but unfortunately, it will harm the U.S. and the world as well, especially raising inflation and turmoil in world economy. Related to the trade is the technology competition. Accusing China stealing U.S. technology is glossing over the real issue. China despite of world sanction has caught up in Space Technology research and development, in missiles, satellites, moon and space exploration and her own GPS system. China has built the fastest computer surpassing the U.S. The U.S. chose to sanction China on technology export which certainly did not help her trade balance. It seems that the more sanctions are applied to China the more self-developments are coming from China. The U.S. must honestly face this competition with education and domestic policies rather than relying on stopping the competition.
Punishing Chinese technology company for violating US sanction to Iran has triggered more self-reliance activity in developing advanced semiconductor chips hurting the U.S. domination in that technology. Judging from the media swing recently on news about China, it is apparent to people (especially those who follow and study US-China issues) that the U.S. China policy has switched to targeting China as a competitor. The U.S. mass media are launching a concerted effort to discredit China. However, the legacy tools in the chest of US China policy are less effective in persuading the world other than making the US citizens confused and puzzled struggling with patriotism, diplomatic logic and justice. The deplorable accusation against Chinese scholars and researchers in the U.S. as possible spies for China only made dissenters from China having second thought and questioning whether the U.S. is still the peace loving free country welcoming immigrants?!
After forty years maintaining one China policy, the U.S. has now begun to play the Taiwan Card agitating China; this is another move with no long-term benefit. The decision of recognizing the PRC as the legitimate representation of China is a brilliant strategy from global politics point of view which indeed led the triumphant victory of the West against the communist world. Pulling China into the West camp eventually getting nearly ten percent of the world population above poverty appreciating capitalism is not only a humanitarian achievement but also a win of the West lifting the world economy, for which China is now a major contributor. Keeping Taiwan and Mainland China in truce for seventy years has helped them developed economically and the Asian world in peace. The peaceful reunification issue was on hold on a no rush schedule until a minority group of Taiwanese (affiliated with Japanese descent from the era of Japanese occupation of Taiwan) started an anti-China movement and advocating independence. The U.S. was maintaining a neutral position honoring the one China policy which served her interest to keep Asia Pacific in peace. But her recent behavior is clearly a switch away from the one China policy begging for justification from strategic point of view.
From the idea of selling more military gears to Taiwan to passing Taiwan Travel Act sends a wrong message to China as well as to the pro-independence DPP Party. Expanding the American Institute of Taiwan and allowing it to make statements supporting the current DPP Administration (subtly influencing the election) despite of the voting population has clearly expressed dissatisfaction with DPP’s anti-China actions is a questionable policy – for what purpose?. The previous Taiwan President Chen Shui Bian (a DPP leader and an anti-China pro-independence activist) was convicted with corruption (now on medical parole) had laundered hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S., yet the current US Administration stood by silently and yet still encouraging the DPP’s anti-China Policy behavior can only give the world a bad impression: The U.S. rather sides with a corrupt party/government and renege a diplomatic agreement with China on the one China policy simply because she feels threatened by the rising China. One cannot help but trace this switch to the “Thucydides Theory” and an obvious failing in understanding the philosophy of winning without a war firmly believed by China.
The above analysis suggests that the current U.S. China policy is lack of logic and short-sighted. The rhetoric, media bashing and diplomatic maneuver using the tools described above may be able to gain a little advantage in the trade negotiation or a little profit from selling the outdated F-16s to Taiwan, but one can expect China will have a long-term strategy (China’s US Policy) dealing with the U.S. going beyond 2020, 2024, ... even up to 2052. With both countries possessing nuclear arsenal, it is unwise for the U.S. Administration to utter war and claim one can win in a limited nuclear war. China will try to avoid the war but she will also back up with military strength to make sure her responsive strike (second strike) can destroy the attacker completely as a punishment. China is sincere to claim that she will never use nuclear weapon first but we must also respect her sincerity that she will make a thorough retaliating strike. China is surrounded with 14 neighbors some are powerful and unfriendly. It makes perfect sense for China to adopt a deterrent defense strategy, thus, China will continue her fortification of defense capabilities (SCS islands, carriers and all) so long she is receiving threats continuously. Wrong interpretation of the above can only lead to arms race with no good ending.
Japan had made aggressive moves in the East China Sea (Diaoyu Island episode: Japan unilaterally violated an agreement that the sovereignty issue of Diaoyu islands is tabled) and consequently received retaliation resulting in a constant Chinese naval and air force patrol in the ECS. Japan may have understood China better than the U.S., hence she has adjusted her China policy switching to a more engaging one with effort to dissolve past war grudges and move onto cooperation for mutual benefits. The actions of the U.S. in SCS similarly will induce China to further militarize her SCS islands to deter any unfriendly intrusion or threat from the U.S. navy. This eventually will lead to a code of conduct in SCS so that friendly freedom of navigation can be assured. Perhaps, it is time for the U.S. to rethink of joining UNCLOS to honor a set of code of conducts on freedom of navigation. Observing objectively, China’s modernized (if further militarized) islands in SCS are in a better position now to provide that assurance than carriers or submarines. The ASEAN countries such as Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam seem to understand the above scenario already thus defying a U.S. proposition to gang up on China in SCS. Other countries like India and Australia seem to be weighing the situation the same way, unless China really changes her behavior to become an imperial power. On the global stage, President Xi’s recent travels to Europe and his speeches in the UN and elsewhere have always stressed China’s respect for UN agreements and multilateralism and China’s vision for global collaborative development. This is fairly assuring until one finds evidence disproving it.
This article is only a tiny voice from the Organic media, but it does represent an objective view that human civilization should not be dictated by the Thucydides Theory. Humans’ intelligence must be better now than thousands years ago. We should ponder on the philosophy: “Winning without war and competition advances civilization not destroys it” earnestly.