This paper was originally entitled, How (Americans/U.S.)/(Chinese/China) View (Chinese/China)/(Americans/U.S.) Then and Now?. It was obviously a confusing title with all the brackets and slashes in it. But if you treat the brackets and slashes as options, you essentially get sixteen simple questions in the form like: How Americans View China? The options give us sixteen important questions concerning the US-China relations. Each question deserves an essay to answer, however, the author feels that a quick and direct answer to these questions can give us lots of food for thought possibly leading to a serious discussion on issues challenging American people and government and Chinese people and government resulting in solutions to US-China conflicts. The questions and answers covering then and now (over the past century) should make the two countries and two peoples understand the change of their perception of each other - why getting worse by the day and how necessary corrections can be made? - so the two countries can get along with each other in this world for their mutual benefit and world harmony.
The sixteen questions and sample answers based on the author's studies and research are listed below to facilitate readers to do the above suggested exercise to find solutions to solve the US-China conflicts:
A1. How Americans View Chinese (People) Then and Now? Answer: Pity -> Sympathy -> Deserving Help -> Envy/Jealousy -> resentful.
A2. How Americans View China (government) Then and Now? Answer: Evil -> Corrupt -> Helpless -> Mysterious -> Efficient.
A3. How U.S. view Chinese (people) Then and Now? Answer: Poor -> Too Many -> Cheap Labor -> Customers for US goods.
A4. How U.S. view China (government) Then and Now? Answer: Weak -> Communist -> Dishonest -> Threat -> Enemy.
A5. How Americans view American (people) Then and Now? Answer: Proud -> Exceptional -> Self Doubt - Worried for the future.
A6. How Americans view U.S. (government) Then and Now? Answer: Respect -> Patriotic -> Partisan -> Inefficient -> Incompetent -> Divisive.
A7. How U.S. views American (people) Then and Now? Answer: Domestic -> Lawful -> Problem some -> Divisive.
A8. How U.S. views Herself (government) Then and Now? Answer: World Model - > Arrogant - > Self Doubt - > Denial of Reality.
B1. How Chinese view American (people). Then and Now? Answer: Trustable White → Admirable -> Respect -> Fear/Puzzled -> Not Trustable/Discriminating.
B2. How Chinese view U.S. (government) Then and Now? Answer: Envious -> Respect -> Powerful - > Doubt -> Hypocritical.
B3. How China views American (people) Then and Now? Answer: Lovable -> Helpful/Friendly -> Ignorant -> Lazy/Selfish -> Complacent
B4. How China views U.S. (government)Then and Now? Answer: Power/Fear -> Respect -> Double Standard -> Selfish/Unilateralism -> Disrespect.
B5. How Chinese view Chinese (people)Then and Now? Answer: Sad/Helpless -> Painful - >Empathy -> Encouragement -> Self Respect -> Self Confidence.
B6. How Chinese view China (government) Then and Now? Answer: Scary -> Incompetent/Crazy -> Acceptance -> Diligence - > Appreciate/Support -> Patriotic.
B7. How China views Chinese (people) Then and Now? Answer: Ignorant Poor/Peasants -> Useful Labor -> Mighty Revolutionary Force -> Market Force and Talents -> Sacred Master of Governance.
B8. How China views Herself (government) Then and Now? Answer: Blind Faith -> Overwhelmed -> Insecurity -> Humility - Capable -> Confidence -> Assertiveness
The US-China relations is a complex issue. Its current status is a worrisome one, as we can see clearly the diplomatic relations of two countries are falling off a cliff. The U.S. is openly targeting China as an enemy, not only resorting to all tactics, trade tariff, technology sanction and media accusations (human rights etc.). The U.S. is not competing with China alone but also forming alliance militarily similar to Cold War and WW I eras leading to potential military confrontation. However, the world has changed since the last Cold War. During the Cold War, the U.S. was the superpower with her military strength and economic power greater than the targeted Soviet Union many folds. The U.S. allies were economically and militarily dependent on the U.S. With the strategy of embracing China to join the West alliance, the downfall of the Soviet Union could be expected, thus ending of the Cold War.
Today the world arena is very different in that the U.S. is no longer in a commanding position economically even militarily to conduct another Cold War against China and Russia. The fundamental reasons are as follows:
1. China’s rise was too rapid and fierce to stop, with no sign of slowing.
2. Russia is recovering from the Cold War and is leaning towards China.
3. The U.S. economy has changed form to rely on financial industry and U.S. dollar being the world dominating currency. The U.S. government is functioning on debt financing. The U.S. does not have a stable economy compared to China’s manufacturing-based economy.
4. The most critical factor is that China is not a communist country as the U.S. imagined. China embraces free economy and has become the world's leading merchandise trader and the largest importer for over twenty-five nations. The U.S. alliance strategy against China can only lead to a war with devastating outcome to the U.S. and her allies. The best outcome is the worst outcome that is the world would be destroyed by nuclear weapons.
For the above reasons, the two great nations must be realistic and rational in dealing with their relations. Thus the U.S. and China and their people must analyze the above questions carefully to understand why and how their views of each other have changed in the past century. The two countries must make corrections on their behaviors and views to re-nourish their relationship so to get along with each other in this world for mutual benefits and world harmony. We can browse the above sixteen questions and easily identify where the corrections need to be made. That is why such a Q&A exercise, seemingly simple, may be vital to restore and guide the US-China relation to a healthy course.
The first set of eight questions and their answers should make us think that jealousy and retaliation are not productive. The U.S. needs to understand the Chinese system and her success to remove mystery and gain knowledge of why the CCP is efficient, how it turns people force to productivity and how the U.S. can get benefit of China’s market size. Hostility to CCP is useless and meaningless since CCP does not export communism nor any other political beliefs. The U.S. needs to focus on internal issues such as divisiveness in people and government and inefficiency in governance. On the other hand, China needs to build her reputation as an honest trader and world leader.
The next set of Q&A tells us that the Chinese people changed from admiring Americans to being resentful caused by discrimination against them. The U.S. must understand the causes of Chinese people's perception: Is the U.S. hypocritical and performing double standard and unilateralism in her foreign policy? The U.S. needs to solve her domestic problems to energize American people to be more productive especially in basic industrial sectors. The stability of CCP hinges on its respect and fear for Chinese people’s power (of uprising). Treating citizens as a sacred master-of-governance is apparently another form of democracy (not by paper ballots but by Qi, 气 or Min Qi，民气), efficient and beneficial to Chinese citizens. Intrinsically, the Chinese people have nothing against democracy nor strong feeling for it. They do not place blind faith on a simple ballot system after seeing it fail in many countries. The Chinese people do appreciate CCP’s rigorous selection process for picking public servants, however democracy (direct voting) has its merit for CCP to adopt to gain Min Qi by polling. The world is rapidly advanced with massive and fast digital information system. An instantaneous opinion survey of the entire population (assessing Min Qi) through a smartphone could be a very valuable and necessary mechanism for monitoring and improving governance.
With the above understanding and some sincere effort to change the perception of each other, the US-China relationship may be reset to a correct course away from rhetoric and hostile actions. Let the people of the two countries be the judge rather than let the politicians dictating the course. There is no reason that the U.S. cannot get back her image or her people being admired by the world again. Likewise, there is no reason that China cannot enjoy respect and her citizens be treated equally as anyone else in the world. A friendly US-China relation will be the anchor for a stable, harmonious and prosperous world!
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.