Opinion | The othering of China
By Philip Yeung, university teacher
Quite suddenly, since Trump, China has earned the label of being a threat, a threatening "other" to America. Actually, China's behavior hasn't changed one iota. It is America that has changed, using "us" versus "them" to shape its relationships, domestic and foreign.
The world is being bamboozled. It is now crystal-clear that lecturing China on respecting the "rule-based global order" is just a smear tactic. Even if China follows US dictates, it won't soften American hostility. China's sin is in outshining America with its mega-success.
Coercion, however, has the opposite effect on China. Emerging from a hundred-year humiliation, China cannot and will not look weak before its own people. That is cast in iron.
Biden is a big disappointment. People thought, wrongly, that he would restore US foreign policies to a semblance of sanity. After all, among US leaders, he is said to know President Xi best. It is rumored that the Chinese president once asked Biden to define America and Biden replied in one word: "Possibilities". What he didn't tell President Xi is that this word also includes the possibilities to disrupt the world order.
The world now knows that America stands for "hypocrisy". How do you square the fact that Trump is accused of rape, tax fraud, obstructing justice in the 2020 election, and even inciting an insurrection. And yet, he is able to profit from his avalanche of scandals, turning his criminal and civil lawsuits into fundraising tools to extract money from his supporters. Trump is right. He can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single voter. I just don't understand America anymore.
By contrast, China is a fairytale while America is becoming a nightmare. American politicians, left and right, have come to feed on the China trough, each taking the political nutrients it needs from its "common enemy". What a feeding frenzy! America is hell-bent on spoiling China's Cinderella story.
Biden is trying to out-Trump the Donald on China, doubling down on anti-PRC hysteria. Trade sanctions or technology embargo no longer satisfy America's appetite to bully and belittle China. Biden has now forbidden Chinese citizens to purchase US properties, and American companies to invest in Chinese businesses. America has provocatively dispatched 200 military personnel to train Taiwanese troops. It is all-out war in all but name.
Jeffrey Sachs, a voice crying in the wilderness, recently said, the China strategic threat exists only in the newspapers. The press in the West are supposed to be mavericks who can see through the fog of deception. But instead it has been dishing out one-sided reports against China. They behave like propagandists, not journalists. Where is their cool-eyed analysis? Where is geopolitical big picture that is the pride of their profession? They allow themselves to be used as a warmongering megaphone and expect to profit from the mess they help create.
But where is this "othering" of China leading us? Its spillover effects are everywhere. In the latest diplomatic spat, China's ambassador to France has called into the question the legitimate status of three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as sovereign states. Ouch! That must hurt. But, their feelings of outrage are matched only by the anger China feels when these nosey European marginal players question China's sovereign rights over Taiwan. The Chinese diplomat is only guilty of rhetorical retaliation. His message is clear: respect other countries' sovereignty if you want others to recognize yours. A tooth for a tooth.
Normally, these Baltic countries are too far removed from the geopolitical game being played out in Asia-Pacific. But unwisely, they decided to muddy the waters in a far-away foreign pond. They might feel cold fear about Russia, their next-door neighbor. But they are making the fatal error of transferring that fear of Russia to an imagined fear about a rising China. They fail to see that Russia is a military beast with imperial ambitions, whereas China is an economic animal who craves Confucian-inspired shared prosperity. Don't forget, China has a hands-off policy about other nations' sovereignty. The Taiwan tensions are entirely made-in-America. Left alone to sort out their domestic dispute, it will be just a family squabble.
They should not forget this western proverb either: "You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas." If you behave like a US pawn, you will pay the price of being a pawn. You might be a sovereign state, but a pawn is still a pawn.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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