Why US democratic system can’t prevent extreme China policy

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By Li Qingqing Source: Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US’ internal divisions are intensifying, but American politicians have at least reached a high degree of consensus on one thing – to act tough against China.

The Financial Times on Wednesday published an opinion piece titled “America’s eerie lack of debate about China.” The US has the advantage of “raucousness of its public discourse,” the article read, but “on the China question, it is troublingly civilized.”

There seems to be a serious malfunction in the US democratic system. One advantage of the US democratic system is supposed to be the full debate of policies to avoid any extreme strategy. Pros and cons are carefully weighed. But this is not the case when it comes to the China question. Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the two 2020 presidential candidates, are fiercely competing on who is tougher on China. As the election approaches, American politicians’ frequent and reckless criticism of China has reached an unprecedented level.

The US’ China policy has deteriorated rapidly after Trump took office. Attacking China seems to be the only work that US politicians and senior officials engage in every day. Toughness against Beijing has already become political correctness in Washington. Such an extreme mind-set has almost hijacked the US, squeezing out the rational and objective voices toward China. The atmosphere of the US’ China policy is distorted.

Such a distorted atmosphere has deprived US voters of their right to choose – after all, the US democratic system should have provided voters with a choice as the country claims. But the voters have to face two presidential candidates accusing the other of being weaker on China. The space for internal debates on the US’ China policy is disappointingly shrinking.

US policy on China lacks debate, and some US politicians cannot even bear any rational voice. Isn’t that a kind of tyranny? Every day, the White House would come up with some new policies targeting China, or sanctions against China. Yet, the US political system is unable to curb this vicious trend. Many Chinese scholars and students are purged by US authorities – including some Chinese Americans – under the sweeping anti-China strategy of Washington.

China hopes to build a win-win relationship with the US, but Washington rejects the idea. It is pursuing decoupling at the risk of bringing huge losses to both sides and great uncertainty to global strategic stability.

Such an extreme and abnormal mind-set has dragged China-US relations to the worst stage since the two countries established diplomatic relations. As a superpower, can the US only try to maintain its leading position through demonizing and suppressing its rivals? If the US cannot face China objectively and adopt a more inclusive mentality, US democratic system will hardly help the country avoid making the worst strategy.

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