We have three important commentaries this week from the Chinese media. The first covers an interview with a former US assistant secretary of state. In essence he believes the USA must address its issues with China from a position of strength rather than decline.
In an interview with the Japanese media, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Daniel Russel, said that only when the U.S. is far superior to China can relations between the two countries remain stable. Commenting on the U.S. government’s China policy over the past few decades, Russell said that as China’s strength approaches that of the US, Sino-U.S. relations are no longer what they used to be.
The U.S. supports China’s development and strives to avoid friction and confrontation.
Russell stated that during the Clinton administration, the United States believed that a stable and prosperous China was in the interests of the United States and its allies. Therefore, the U.S. government promoted contacts with China in an attempt to integrate China into the international system led by the United States. At that time, no one thought it was better to isolate and contain China and destabilize China. “This will be a disaster.”
Although Russell believes that the denial of engagement with China is untenable, he also admits that the situation has changed. It is difficult for China and the United States to return to the past. First of all, in the past, as long as there was a huge gap in military and economic strength between the two countries, Sino-US relations were fairly stable. But now China has made greater economic achievements, and its military technology capabilities are also stronger. Today, China is about to become a big country rivalling the United States. This has never happened before.
Russell believes that China has more openly challenged global rules and the leadership of the United States. China began to believe that it was as powerful as the United States, and as China became stronger, the United States was declining. China’s behaviour has become more dangerous and disturbing. As long as China still believes that the strength of the United States is declining, it will want to issue more direct challenges.
Russell pointed out that the relationship between the two countries can remain stable only when the strength of the United States far exceeds that of China. Although he opposes the strategy of weakening China and believes that this approach is “neither wise nor feasible,” the United States needs to show its strength.
The United States needs to strengthen its relationship with its allies; demonstrate its resilience, carry out self-innovation and remodelling, and promote the growth of the overall strength of a democratic society. Russell said that Chinese leaders respect strength and despise weakness. Only by doing so can the United States make China compromise or be more cautious in its behaviour.
In a strong attack on the USA’s human rights record, this article in Huanqi, points out the hypocrisy of USA rhetoric when compared to its actions against Muslims at home and abroad.
The United States bills itself as a human rights beacon and often stigmatizes and suppresses other countries under the banner of “protecting human rights.” However, the truth is that the United States has severely discriminated against and cruelly persecuted Muslims. The United States has no intention or capability to solve the serious Muslim discrimination problem in its own country. The various acts of the United States discriminating against and persecuting Muslims at home and abroad have exposed the hypocrisy of American human rights.
Racism is in their bones. Two decades have passed since 9/11. American Muslims are still suffering from stigma, marginalization, fear, threats, and unacceptable surveillance. U.S. hate crimes against Muslims remain high. In the 2018 mid-term elections in the United States, anti-Muslim speeches rose sharply, and politicians fuelled the flames, allowing conspiracy theories against Muslims to increasingly enter the political mainstream. A report issued by the Committee on Islamic Relations in the United States in 2018 also showed that the number of anti-Muslim groups in the United States has tripled since 2016.
Negative descriptions of Muslims based solely on “racism” in film and television cultural works have contributed to discrimination, hostility and violence against Muslim individuals and communities. In them, Muslims are mostly outsiders, killers, aggressors, and other negative images. Fewer than 10% of the films feature Muslims in a positive role.
In 2017, the Trump administration issued the third edition of the entry ban, imposing entry restrictions on citizens from Muslim countries such as Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Chad. The U.S. government believes that these countries do not meet U.S. requirements for security checks and information sharing for visa applicants. The U.S. Supreme Court voted to support Trump’s executive order.
The fact that this presidential executive order that broke the boundaries of decency can be issued at all, has revealed many problems. The conservative justices who supported this executive order believe that Congress has given the president the responsibility to ensure border security, and that the president has broad discretion over who can enter the United States. The German media, for example, believes that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to legitimize Trump’s Muslim ban, is the first time in U.S. history that Islamophobia has been institutionalized and legalized. This has violated the provisions of the U.S. Constitution that provide equal protection and fair trial rights for all.
The USA persecutes overseas Muslims too. In the treatment of foreign Muslims, the United States has repeatedly adopted double standards in the name of human rights. Although it keeps saying that it cares about the well-being of Muslims, since the beginning of this century, the United States has waged wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq under the guise of “anti-terrorism”, causing tens of millions of innocent Muslim civilian casualties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has continued to impose sanctions on Iran and other countries, exacerbating the plight of local people’s livelihoods, leading to economic depression and unspeakable suffering.
There have been many articles, in both western and Chinese media, about the recent perceived change in Chinese diplomacy. This article summaries the views of Yan Xuetong, a Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University
You are not qualified to say in front of China that you talk to China from the perspective of strength.
In the high-level strategic dialogue between China and the United States in March this year, it seems that for the first time, more countries have learned about diplomacy, especially China. Many people have debated whether the above sentence represents a paradigm change in China’s diplomacy.
As China’s national power increases and gradually moves toward the centre of the world stage, every move has attracted attention from the outside world. At the same time, China’s diplomacy is also facing many situations that it has not faced in the past. It needs more diversified, flexible and proactive responses, and a voice from China when necessary.
As for the changes or adjustments in the Chinese diplomatic paradigm, we may have to understand the current personal speeches of Chinese diplomats based on the policies of the Chinese government. For example, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to a diplomat’s remarks, “We do not comment on the words and deeds of diplomats.”
The new Chinese diplomacy is very different from before. In the past, every word spoken by Chinese diplomats would be understood by the international community as an expression of Chinese government policy. Today, the international community does not necessarily believe that every word written or spoken by a Chinese diplomat represent the policies of the Chinese government. Therefore, which sentence in the mouth of Chinese diplomats represents the position and policy of the Chinese government, and which sentence is his personal opinion and does not represent China’s position and policy? This now needs careful thought. The international community can hardly distinguish between the two.
In addition, China has dual identities. One is a world power, and the other is a developing country. As a world power, China has to bear more international responsibilities than other countries. At the same time, because China is not the most powerful country in the world, it should bear fewer international responsibilities than the United States.
On the other hand, as the largest developing country, China must safeguard the interests of all developing countries, not the specific interests of a certain developing country. Because developing countries are a group, China needs to protect the interests of the group, but not Individual interests.
Yet, there are no “two circles” in the world. The policy adopted by the United States is not just to unite developed countries or Western countries, South Africa and India are all developing countries among the participating countries of the G7 summit. Therefore the United States does not regard developed or developing countries as the boundary for its international support.
China should also adopt the same strategy. When striving for international support, China must not distinguish between developed and developing countries.
Now China has put forward the term “true multilateralism”, emphasizing the need to be open and inclusive, but it remains to be seen how specific policies are. What we need to do now is not a problem of propaganda. What China needs to solve is how to implement specific policies. It is easy to put forward the concept of “open and inclusive”. It takes more effort to make behaviour consistent with declared policy.
The image of every country in the world mainly depends on the government of that country. The people also play a role in shaping the image of the country, but it is relatively second, and the government is the most influential. It is not government propaganda, nor government goals, but the government’s specific policies and diplomatic actions.
The reason why the US approach to diplomacy can now produce results for China is related to the reduction of internalizing China’s attention. Thus, opening up in the 1980s and 1990s, China mainly focused on the internal factors. In the first ten years after entering the new century, China paid equal attention to internal and external. Beginning this year, China has begun to focus on the external.
Finally, if there is no contact between people, then there will be no cooperation. Our cooperation with the international community is a cooperation between people, which means that foreigners must be allowed to enter China. So, to deal with the American strategy, among other things, China has to open the door more widely to allow foreigners to come and work in China.