“China Threat” is a political slogan coined by hawkish anti-China “expert” or “strategist” and widely quoted by politicians to build a halo over their head beaming patriotism. This patriotism is not based on the fact that the politicians have served in the military, sacrificed for the country or wounded in a war. Many who shouted “China Threat”, like Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State or Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban immigrant, who simply saw Donald Trump’s victory of presidential bid in 2016 was due largely to Trump’s strong messages on anti-China and blaming China for U.S. domestic and international problems. Unfortunately, this has become a trend in the U.S. Presidential election, diverting voters attention on domestic problems away from searching for solutions and shifting to blaming foreign countries. Rubio, as a young politician and a Cuban immigrant and a local politician in Florida, he knows so well that China is no more “communist” (China reforms rigorously from orthodox Communism) than Cuba, no more socialist (China embraces more capitalism) than Cuba and thus no more a threat than Cuba to the U.S. Rubio and the like with a big ego and presidential ambition who never traveled to China and had little real foreign affairs experience other than hosting political dissenters’ testimonies at the Senate hearing, really don’t know what China Threat really is. As a political analyst traveled many times to China, I will devote this column to explain what real “China Threat” is to general Americans and in particular to politicians like Rubio (Republican), Pompeo (Republican) and Ocasio-Cortez (Young Democrat, 30), all future Presidential Candidates in the brewing.
This column will not discuss the schemed “national threat” which to a large extent is created by the self claimed national security experts. They hypothesize a “nation threat” (for example, Russia/Soviet Union, Japan, EU or China) under three axes, ideology, military and economy, then devise corresponding counter measures, rarely related to how average citizens feel about 'national threat'. In reality, ideological threat is never a real national threat, since if the majority of people in a nation accept an ideology, it is hardly a threat to the U.S. other than to some politicians. Military threat is a self inflicted mutual threat since military spending (especially for expansionist) is an expensive and non-productive investment, rarely bringing a positive return but a crippling economy. So rationally, nations would not initiate military threat to each other and none would escalate unless being obviously threatened first. The economic threat, however, may seem to be real simply because the Earth has limited resources and all people/nations desire to live better lives which means that every nation will consume more resources with time unless humans invent their way out of scarce resources. Therefore, the economic threat is really just a competition for resources (and innovation for conserving resources) to support a better life. A competition is not a threat when it is resolved by a fair trade and competitive effort against each other. Just like participating in an Olympic game, a fair competition is not a threat; win or loss, you can try again, generation after generation.
So what is the real “China Threat” then? The fair answer is that China presents an economic competition to the U.S. China does not pose any ideological threat to the U.S. and her democracy. If anything the threat is the other way around that the U.S. is insisting on an ideological war, exporting the U.S. brand of democracy, which is persisting even long after the collapse of the Soviet Union. History clearly showed us, any country that is left alone with no ideological confrontation fared rather well economically. It is peace that is needed in a fair economic competition. For country like the U.S., blessed with rich resources, there is less need for her to worry about fair economic competition since no other nation is richer than her or can pose an ideological or military war against the U.S. Other nations would be busy enough to struggle and compete economically with the ever developing world. So the best interpretation of so called ‘China Threat’ is economic competition, which may be perceived as a threat only when one gives up competition and resort in rhetoric. We may give a few examples to illustrate this point.
China has become a nation of world manufacturing. She plans her economy methodically to first build her basic economic needs in terms of living; that is supplying enough food, clothing and shelter to her vast population. Then she strengthens her national infrastructure to sustain her economic development. Through her economic scale, she manages to make household products efficiently with low cost. Thus through hard work and ever expanding export, she became the main supplier of most household products to the world. Many nations depend on Chinese goods, especially the U.S. who chooses to move away from those low-profit mass production industries and moving into high profit and quick return hi-tech and financial industries. Is China a threat to the U.S.? Yes, if China were wiped out of the Earth. But who would want to wipe China out of the Earth? The “China Threat” sayers. Obviously, that kind of ‘China threat’ holds no logic. Trade had become freer since the colonial days were over, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has done a reasonable job for maintaining a free trade system that supported decades of supplying inexpensive goods to advanced and rich countries such as the U.S. and Western Europe and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. If China made the most significant contribution to world trade and lifted half of her population above poverty, I would not call that “China Threat”. I would rather think, whoever wants to wipe China out of the world is creating a threat to the world!