The ribbon-cutting ceremony that the US is “returning to the center of the world stage” has been staged this week. The third ministerial meeting among Quad, an informal security grouping of the US, Japan, Australia and India, as well as the meeting of foreign ministers of France, Germany, the UK with the US secretary of state, were held on Thursday, US time. A virtual G7 summit and a virtual edition of the annual Munich Security Conference convene on Friday. Both US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are too busy.
It’s reported that the Biden administration is set to announce $4 billion in contributions to the WHO-led COVAX scheme. If this is true, it will be a good thing. It can be regarded as Washington’s pledge to return to multilateralism. It is also welcome if the US can show flexibility over the Iran nuclear issue. No matter how far the US will go to fix itself, it sends a signal that Washington wants to “learn to behave well” in the next four years.
However, messages conveyed in the abovementioned multiple meetings all point to the US calling on allies to jointly “tackle the China challenge.” This reminds people of the fact that the US is returning to the international community with its fundamental mistakes of the past four years. The US hasn’t changed its course, but wants to draw more countries to board its ship, turning the paranoid US China policy into a common line of the entire West and even more countries. It will run into snags.
The world has changed. If the US, which is highly strategically selfish, doesn’t adjust itself to the situation, it will increasingly feel its loneliness. The US remains powerful, and it’s not difficult for Washington to organize some big events to show “solidarity” among allies. But this cannot eliminate the differences in interests between various allies and the US, nor can it prevent those countries from participating in international affairs based on their own interests. Washington does not have the absolute strength to build a new Cold War alliance any more, and there also lacks an international strategic environment for it to do so.
The US had a common enemy, common interests and common value system with major Western countries during the Cold War. Its economy was in an overwhelmingly strong position that allowed it to protect its allies and bring them security and prosperity. But all those conditions no longer exist, or have been severely weakened.
China is not an enemy of the US, but is in complicated competition with the US. China became the EU’s biggest trading partner in 2020. It is also the biggest trading partner of almost all US allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Between China and the US, there is also the world’s largest bilateral trade. Differing views prevail in the US over the country’s China policy. It is only wishful thinking that Washington wants its allies to give up their huge economic benefits in relations with China.
There is a fundamental deviation in Washington’s political definition of China and its relations with China. Some US elites are too sensitive about geopolitics, and are detached from reality.
Washington has always emphasized the common values between the US and other Western countries and claimed China as an “alien.” It is true China and the West have different political systems and ideologies. But the diversity of human society is eternal and inclusiveness will occupy the prominent position of common human values for a long time. The US cannot go as far as it wishes on its way against such inclusiveness.
If the US wants to exert greater leadership, it will have to conform to the needs of other countries. Development is the common aspiration of the world, and it also has become the top connotation of national security. China is a development cooperator and facilitator to all countries, including the US. If Washington cannot overcome its zero-sum major power competition mentality and stubbornly takes carrying out vicious competition to crash China as its long-term strategy, it is doomed to suffer setbacks in mobilizing the Western world against China.
For China, the US is powerful, but not powerful enough to contain China wantonly. Therefore, China will not confront the US, but will dedicate itself to its own things and expand friendly cooperation with foreign countries as much as possible. This is a reliable and feasible strategy. The US finding trouble with China geopolitically will increase our development cost, but we definitely can withstand it.