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Opinion | UN Standards, US Standards, Double-Standards

By Philip Yeung, university teacher


From day one of the UN's existence, it has come under the giant shadow of the US. After an unbroken period of overbearing American dominance, people are beginning to ask: Is the UN an irrelevance?

The UN Charter is a noble document that seeks to preserve peace after the devastation of the Second World War. With UN headquarters physically located in New York, Americans somehow have come to see this world body as an instrument of American power. This is unhealthy. America's relationship with the UN is largely a marriage of convenience, whose rules can be flouted with impunity depending on its moods as a superpower. In many instances, the UN is a toothless agency, whose impotence is exposed every time the US chooses to disregard its rules, as in the illegal Iraqi war that took a million innocent lives. And what did the world body do about it? Nothing. Without the levers of power to enforce its law, the UN is but a paper tiger.

What's more, anytime America is displeased about the UN's action, it can unilaterally withhold its membership fees. No other member has stooped to such in-the-face insult. How can you have an international organization in which a bullying member can choose to pay or not pay its membership dues? Shouldn't there be a penalty for late payment or non-payment? That shows you how little regard the US has for UN rules.

As bad as begrudging payment is, it can't compare with the destructive power of flagrant violations of other members' rights and territorial integrity. After all, the UN's role is to curb or contain behavioral excesses by powerful states. American exceptionalism is a slap on the face of the UN, putting itself above the law, because it has the power to be above the law. What good is an international organization when domineering members can pick and choose which rules to obey or disobey?

Now more than ever, the UN needs a new heart. The UN Charter has set out to preserve peace and dissolve animosity between members. But the US has for the past several decades begun an aggressive behavior pattern that undermines this very mission. I am referring to the evil American habit of using its economic and military clout to cajole other members into alliances of animosity against perceived rivals such as China, pushing the world towards one needless conflict after another. Its strategies are dictated by ill will and calculated to destroy adversaries. With a rising China, its favorite tool is encirclement, an American invention that has become an American monopoly. How come we have never heard of China encircling America? And what exactly has China done to deserve encirclement?

If you go by the record, of the five Security Council members, China stands out with a squeaky-clean record in never engaging in foreign wars. The Taiwan issue is a US-manufactured crisis; there was a long period of peace cross-strait, especially post- 1992 Consensus. But the US has shattered it by stirring up unrest in Hong Kong, a city that has enjoyed unfettered freedom for 23 years and has never been decolonized. Its unrest was used as a foil in Taiwan, by discrediting One Country Two Systems after US-fomented 9-month-long riots. Prior to this, Taiwan's leader was teetering on the brink of electoral defeat with just 12% voter support. When street violence broke out in Hong Kong, Beijing was forced to restore order by enacting a long overdue National Security Law. But this simple act of sovereignty was painted by the US as trampling rights in Hong Kong, while pointing another accusing finger at China for alleged "genocide" in Xinjiang—a clever killing of three birds with one stone. Sadly, America's allies have swallowed its wholesale lies, straining their ties with China, a rule-governed UN boy scout now maligned as a monster.

The UN Charter needs a new muscle to stop this evil alliance-building against a peaceful country. Malicious economic and military alliances are a prelude to armed conflict. China is simultaneously targeted by Five Eyes, the Quad, and AUKUS, not to mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership. On top of this, there is round after round of US sanctions, technology embargo and punitive trade tariffs. None of this can be good for the world economy or stability. These provocative actions put China in the crosshairs. How can there be peace when America is going all-out to isolate and emasculate a rising China? If the US continues this persecution of China unchecked, the next conflict will be over the Taiwan Strait. This time, the consequences will be a hundred times more catastrophic than the Ukraine war. Can the UN afford to sit on its hands and let America the mischief-maker screw up the world order? The US wants the world to believe that China is another Russia with territorial ambitions. Gullible small states in Europe such as Lithuania and the Czech Republic, suffering from Russo-phobia, are falling for this psychological transference.

After a history of 77 years, it's time the UN headquarters be relocated to a neutral country. It makes no sense to have it situated in a belligerent and sanctions-crazy country like the US. America has so many enemies that it has barred entry to representatives of UN members who are on its sanctions list.

American exceptionalism is a malignancy especially after Trump. Can you imagine if China were to claim Chinese exceptionalism? Why let a country trafficking in lies and denial of minority voting rights dictate its distorted values to the world? Exceptionalism is just another name for imperialism.

I wish America would stop telling China to respect the rule-based global order. The US should heed its own advice. The way out of this mess is for the UN to assemble all its members to pass new standards for international behavior, requiring all member countries to submit their actions to UN scrutiny by UN standards. At the very least, the UN should act as a moral counterweight to US disinformation and demonization. After Trumpian lawlessness, how can the world accept America's warped values and twisted double standards? That's a recipe for endless turmoil in the world, not a rule-based global order.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | Which is the world's best political party?

Opinion | What an unforgivable insult to China and its civilization!

Opinion | America’s incurable China complex

Opinion | "China is not Our Enemy"


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