The title is a fair warning for the U.S. attitude and behavior in U.S.-China relations, our foreign relations problems and domestic issues are giving us nightmares like driving down a dangerous cliffy road with no guardrail. Yes, we have no guardrails in U.S.-China relations. In the U.S., the roads are bad requiring fixing. The service stations compete for junk food and fast meals rather than getting ready for the coming auto-revolution. The 5G signals are weak or non- existence over many spots. High speed is desired but our railroads, highways and airports are outdated. Our politicians only master sweet talk to their voters using patriotic verses and blaming our government’s incompetency on foreign competition. Their purpose of winning an election is to get pension, power and privileges, they shout hawkish phrases but do little and kick the can to later generations. Why is this a dangerous scenario? The U.S. is a superpower; we got used to bullying through crises and we could create world crises to deflect or postpone our national problems. The Middle East flop, heightened nuclear threat, the Russian-Ukraine conflict, the world-wide trade war, and the U.S. debt crisis and dollar security are all problems giving nightmares to us. Yes, this is the state we are in. Yes, we are driving down a dangerous cliff with no guardrail!
Pessimistic words are usually not welcomed. We would rather hear a rosy story and picture a bright future. However, international politics are not always Rosy or Sunny, especially when great nations engage in Cold War and march toward a hot war. The U.S. by its superpower status has always been a principal player on the world stage. We confronted communism for half a century and won the Cold War against the Soviet Union. We came out of the Cold War as a victor wearing a hawkish crown believing that we could always bully through crisis and communism being forever evil. Hence, we lost the patience to solve complex international problems in a rational manner. We would rather think and act unilaterally and selfishly in dealing with international issues, often relying on our military might and our economic power (the U.S. dollar and our control of the world financial system) to force settlements. Yes, we were able to behave like a hawk treating other nations like little birds, but the world has changed. The U.S. now has a rival, a nation can say no to the U.S. A nation is fast changing and improving itself. This is today’s reality. If the U.S. did not accurately assess and understand its competitor, China, it would blindly take a hawkish way to deal with a rising China. It is very unwise and dangerous, especially when the U.S. is facing tons of problems created by itself (not by China). China is just a competitor, not a hegemony power as the U.S. imagined, this can be verified by its historical track record and deeds in recent two centuries.
This author is not the only one making the above analysis. Here I will first refer to a recent article/interview, entitled, “It is dangerous when everyone is a China Hawk” (reported by Ravi Agrawal of Foreign Policy on April 14, 2023, based on his interview with Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasurer and President of Harvard University). Larry Summers has held top jobs at the World Bank and the National Economic Council, and was U.S. treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. The interview discussed the global economic outlook; but also spent time examining the state of Russia’s economy, the dollar’s strength, accusations of U.S. protectionism, and the economic impacts of U.S.-China competition. The interview summarized, “Economic policymakers from around the globe traveled to Washington in mid-April for the annual spring convention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The backdrop to the meeting was stark: The IMF warned of an “anemic outlook” for the global economy amid rising interest rates, stubborn inflation, and Russia’s war in Ukraine. It projects global growth could slow to just 2.8 percent this year.” From this economic and financial perspective, Mr. Summers has warned that it is dangerous when everyone is a China Hawk. In fact, the recent accelerated sentiment or movement of reducing the U.S. dollar’s role as the exchange currency for international trade is clearly an early dangerous sign. China could help stabilize the dollar and the U.S. ought to know.
Militarily, there were also similar voices about the U.S.-China dilemma. First, the military leaders in the U.S. have repeatedly warned that China’s advance in military strength is astonishing, they are able to build modern ships (including carriers) and planes at a much faster rate than the U.S. can. Multiple simulations of warfare between the U.S. and China yielded unfavorable results for the U.S. instead of honestly assessing the important question: Whether China has the same hawkish attitude as the U.S. does or China was pressured into a military rivalry by the U.S., the U.S. doubles down its hawkish military actions against China. The U.S. is earnestly organizing alliances targeting China and increasing frequency of military exercises at the front door of China in the China Sea. The politicians in the current U.S. Administration and Congress seem to be more hawkish than the Pentagon generals in pursuing an aggressive anti-China policy. The statement, “It is dangerous when everyone is a China Hawk”, applies equally well in our military strategy against China. The world has come around to recognize that the U.S. has been provoking Russia to invade Ukraine all along; its opposition to China’s peace proposal for the Russia-Ukraine conflict adds more evidence. Similarly, the U.S. Taiwan policy is agitating and heightening the danger of a Taiwan Strait war. But reviewing the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war does not support a rosy ending for The U.S., never mind for Ukraine. Taiwan Strait could be a worse scenario than the Russia-Ukraine conflict, it might be more dangerous if the U.S. continues blindly on a hawkish path provoking China.
The ancient famous Chinese war strategist, Sun Zi, has advised in his book: That war (between nations) should always be the last resort after exhausting all diplomatic means in settling disputes. The best strategy for winning is to win without warfare. The chance of winning lies in knowing yourself and your opponent thoroughly. (Understanding each other and making fair assumptions.) These wise words should be adhered to in assessing China as a competitor. China is located tens of thousands of kilometers away from the U.S. presenting no threat at all. China has never invaded any country in hundreds of years; it is shying away from military alliance unlike the U.S. China promotes a cooperative model for pursuing mutual development and prosperity, a win-win strategy. We should really ask why should every American be a China hawk. What would we gain? (Would China's collapse bring us better infrastructure and higher living standards?) What might we lose? (China can respond to war by bringing it to U.S. soil!) Shouldn’t we wise up to focus on our domestic issues in real nation building?!