By Hu Xijin Source: Global Times
Do Chinese people hate the US? I am often seen as a “hardliner” on the US, but I don’t hate it anyway. I agree with one thinking that the US is one of the powers that have relatively done the least bad things to China in history. In addition, it has done many good things to China.
For example, the US returned the Boxer Indemnity and used it for China’s education, which played a leading role in the returning of the indemnity of other powers such as UK and France. It’s much better than taking the money. From late 1941 to 1945, the US strongly supported China’s War of Resistance against Japanese aggression.
After the reform and opening up started, the US has been No.1 country to which China opened itself and clearly played a role in China’s modernization process. All these Chinese people never forget. They are deeply embedded in their collective perception toward the US. The Chinese society has accumulated certain goodwill toward the US through these events, which continuously helped shape the Chinese people’s attitudes toward the US in different periods.
Yet this is not the whole story of the China-US relations. Since the end of the World War II in 1945, the US has been obstructing Chinese people from choosing their own national path. In the early 1970s, China and the US approached quickly, and their strategic need to work together against the Soviet Union during the Cold War played a decisive role. Looking back over the past 70 years, China-US relations are very complex. From the bloody Korean War, the disruption of China’s reunification by the US, to the current strategic containment launched against China, and the massive interdepedence of the two largest economies,
it is difficult to make a simple generalization about the relationship between China and the US.
I tend to think that since modern times, the US has generally played a more positive role than a negative one in China’s development and progress. The US attitude toward China is based on American interests. When China was backward and weak, the US tended to use China in a positive way, such as using China to drag Japan in World War II, resisting the Soviet Union in the Cold War, opening Chinese markets in the early years of China’s reform and opening up, and so on. In those times, the common interests of China and the US became the dominant theme.
But as China grows stronger, the other side of the US is increasingly shown. In the 1950s, the US hit China as the eastern flank of the Soviet Bloc. Today, China has developed into the second largest power in the world, and the US has finally identified China as its top strategic competitor. At this time, the US attitude towards China has come to a fundamental turning point.
The US assumes that China has ambition to usurp its global hegemony, and Washington has adopted realistic policies to prevent that: To block China’s continuous peaceful development. In other words, China’s threat to the US is a worst-case scenario that Washington anticipates, but US suppression of China is what is happening today.
Opinions differ as to which side is justified. But the reality is that if the US does block China’s development, the real consequence will be that the Chinese people lose the right to further improve their living standards. This is about maintaining racial inequality and running counter to the ideal of human rights. So no matter how much the US crackdown can be strategically explained, it is bound to be resisted by the Chinese people. The US claims that it is targeting the Communist Party of China, but the Chinese people won’t believe this nonsense. When it comes to safeguarding the fundamental right to development, Chinese society will surely be a firm community of shared interests.
The suspicion that China is going to overtake the US can be resolved through strategic communication and institutional building of international relations. The Chinese are committed to peaceful development and have no interest in seeking world hegemony. The focus of Chinese politics from ancient times to the present has been to solve domestic problems of a large society. Even if this issue cannot be explained for a while, it is not morally justified for Washington to sacrifice the actual rights of the Chinese for the future security of the US.
The Chinese themselves have to figure out what we’re dealing with. Because the US is powerful, technologically more advanced and economically more modern, some people see the dispute between China and the US as a “contest between advanced forces (the US) and backward forces (China).” This is caused by the inferiority complex left from the semi-colonial era. In fact, from the beginning of China’s pursuit of rejuvenation as an independent country, our own national interests have entered into a complex interaction with those of the US, and the simplistic black-and-white thinking has become impossible to guide this country. How China, as a super-sized country, responds to American challenges is bound to be difficult.