China bash­ers can't dic­tate US pol­icy

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM -

More than 100 Amer­i­cans re­cently pub­lished an open let­ter ad­dressed to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, call­ing on the US gov­ern­ment to ad­here to a tough pol­icy against China. Ear­lier in July, over 100 US ex­perts signed an open let­ter ad­dressed to Trump and mem­bers of the Congress ti­tled “China is not an en­emy.”

The pre­vi­ous open let­ter was drafted mainly by Ezra Vo­gel, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Har­vard Univer­sity who has long stud­ied China. The sec­ond let­ter was writ­ten by re­tired Navy Cap­tain James E. Fanell, a for­mer di­rec­tor of In­tel­li­gence and In­for­ma­tion Op­er­a­tions for the US Pa­cific Fleet. Among the sig­na­to­ries of the sec­ond let­ter are vet­er­ans and for­mer US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, think tank mem­bers, and a few in­di­vid­u­als who have been ar­gu­ing for years that China is about to col­lapse. It can be ar­gued that the group which signed the sec­ond let­ter can be called a “mis­cel­la­neous troop.”

The “mis­cel­la­neous troop” ar­tic­u­lated that China is not and will not change as the US wishes it to be and called on Trump “to stay the course on your path of coun­ter­ing Com­mu­nist China.”

The mes­sages em­a­nat­ing from both letters are that there is still no con­sen­sus on how the US should re­spond to China's rise.

The two letters have some­thing in com­mon – the US wants to shape China and hopes for the changes that it ex­pects from the coun­try. The let­ter by Fanell said with con­vic­tion that “China is not as we wish it to be.”

That's why the sig­na­to­ries are call­ing on Washington to stick to a tough US pol­icy on China. The sig­na­to­ries to the first let­ter by Vo­gel ar­guably fol­lowed the logic – If you re­gard China as an

en­emy, China will def­i­nitely be­come your en­emy. In today's pub­lic opin­ion mi­lieu in the US, these two views as a whole have piv­oted to­ward a hard-line ap­proach.

Since the US ad­justed its re­la­tions with China in re­sponse to the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks 18 years ago, ma­jor changes have taken place in its strate­gic po­si­tion­ing of China. The orig­i­nal pol­icy of con­tain­ment and en­gage­ment has been set aside to lean more and more to vig­i­lance and con­tain­ment.

Given diver­gent pub­lic opin­ions in China and the US, we should not have much ex­pec­ta­tion for the ef­fects the first open let­ter can have on Washington's China pol­icy. Like­wise, it is un­nec­es­sary to worry that the “mis­cel­la­neous troop” can take cen­ter stage to dom­i­nate Washington's pol­icy to­ward Beijing.

In fact, China and the US are not des­tined to be friends or foes. Times have changed. China is not the for­mer Soviet Union. The US is no longer what it was.

It must be clear to the US that it is not im­pos­si­ble for it to in­flu­ence China. But China's na­tional path has been shaped by its unique his­tory and re­al­ity. It played a de­ci­sive role in build­ing a bet­ter life for the Chi­nese peo­ple. If the US wants to re­shape China's de­vel­op­ment path through en­gage­ment, it is out of the ques­tion. The re­align­ment of China's na­tional ap­proach will only be achieved in ac­cor­dance with the in­ter­ests and prac­ti­cal needs of the Chi­nese peo­ple.

How big coun­tries with dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal sys­tems should get along is the most press­ing in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal propo­si­tion in the 21st cen­tury.

It re­quires a joint an­swer from China and the US, which is clearly lead­ing the way. We hope it is not the “mis­cel­la­neous troop” which is al­ways mak­ing waves. The US needs politi­cians and aca­demics with a broader strate­gic vi­sion and greater in­sight and re­spon­si­bil­ity. The ar­ti­cle is an ed­i­to­rial of the Global Times. opin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Illustrati­on: Liu RUI/GT

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