By Global Times
In a cotton-producing village in Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, large-scale machines operate at full capacity to seize the harvest season on September 28, 2020. The total cotton plantation area in Xinjiang reached 24.19 million mu (1.6 million hectares) and around 16.90 million mu were harvested by machines in 2020, accounting for 70 percent of the plantation area. Photo: VCG
China’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday announced sanctions on certain individuals and entities in the US and Canada over Xinjiang-related issues, including Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Gayle Manchin and Member of Parliament of Canada Michael Chong.
This is a logical response to the US and Canadian decisions to impose sanctions on Chinese individuals and entities over the same issues. Before that, China had already sanctioned relevant individuals and entities in the EU and UK.
The conflict over Xinjiang-related issues was provoked entirely by the US-led West. What the West has said and done is a gross interference in China’s internal affairs. Thus, China has no alternative but to resolutely counteract it to guard its national sovereignty and defend its dignity. If the West continues to act unreasonably and aggressively, China will surely go on countering it again. We will have to bear the price for the spiral escalation of conflicts with those who have created it.
At the same time, China’s basic position remains unchanged. China does not want the world to be divided. It does not want the conflict between China and the West to intensify; instead, it wants both sides to manage differences properly with each other.
What is important is that counter-terrorism and de-extremism in Xinjiang involves stability and the well-being of 25 million people of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region. They are also important for China’s long-term stability. The West should not conduct destructive intervention in the situation in Xinjiang from their values and positions. There is no room for negotiation on this matter. The West must give up the idea of trying to change China’s policy in Xinjiang.
We notice that the tit-for-tat sanctions by China and the West are more symbolic than powerful, and the actions the two sides took did not target economic and trade cooperation or escalate into this area. We hope this subtle boundary will remain amid this fierce ideological competition between China and the West and that no one will easily cross the line.
Both China and Europe must stay alert and remind themselves not to fall into the US’ predetermined battlefield. The US is assuming a high-profile posture to strengthen ties with its allies, and this move aims to push the entire West to confront with China. It has chosen Xinjiang as a flash point so as to coerce the EU and China at the same time. The EU has no retreat in the much-hyped human rights agenda, and China has no retreat in its sovereignty and national stability. The fierce conflict between China and Europe ranging from ideology to economic cooperation is a battlefield predetermined by Washington to consolidate its hegemony.
If the story evolves as the US has designed, the world will further divide or even become two camps again, and the decoupling that the US’ extreme political elites want to see would be realized. If so, China will lose the big strategic environment to open up and Europe will lose its objective of being strategically independent and lose much of the Chinese market and will have to follow the US lead. That will be a scenario in which the US is the sole winner while both China and Europe lose.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that it was important for the EU itself to have a common identity on China, after a video summit with the EU’s 27 leaders and US President Joe Biden, according to Deutsche Welle. She stressed that the EU had much in common with the US but this did not mean the US and EU agreed on everything. It is hoped that this rational consideration of EU to pursue strategic autonomy can be reflected in Europe’s attitude toward the Xinjiang-related issues and that Europe will not be hampered by the anti-China policy of the US or follow the US to impose sanctions on China.
Domestically, we need to recognize the complexity of the Xinjiang-related issues after it had been hyped up by the US and the West. It is no longer simply a dispute over human rights and sovereignty. It affects the logic of global governance and fundamental attitudes toward the global system. It is also further defining the power of discourse in an era of conflicts among great powers.
China’s social forces still lack experience in participating in international struggles, and the government lacks experience in how to use the power of public opinion to play games with foreign countries. But the criteria for building such cooperation should be clear: China’s mainstream attitude should be more explicit in its declaration, and its show of strength should be clearer. At the same time, we should have more and more flexibility in our strategy, and the coerciveness generated by the struggle should be directed at foreign parties, not at ourselves.
The game between China and the US is one of strength, will, strategy and patience. China should become stronger and more united, and form more open and unspoken rules with the outside world, so the clues and focus of the struggle will be intensified, the deep moral understanding will become wider, and the real areas of conflict will gradually be resolved. Then we’ll have the last laugh.