Source: Global Times
China-US relations continue to worsen. All the new disputes are raised initially by the US. In other words, it is the US that wants to break the status quo of bilateral relations with China and fundamentally reshape it. This can be seen from the hawkish words uttered by senior US officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Generally speaking, China has exercised restraint. It carried out reciprocal measures against US actions after the US closed the Chinese consulate in Houston and expelled Chinese journalists working in the US. But China did not launch overall retaliatory countermeasures against the US’ provocations. China hopes to keep up its opening-up, including opening up to the US. It does not want to accelerate the pace of decoupling from the US via a series of countermeasures.
This is an overall picture of the current China-US disputes. China is not as powerful as the US, but it is a country with strength. The essence of restraint is its confidence instead of timidity.
If Washington wants to achieve its ultimate goal of reshaping China-US relations or launches a new cold war against China and opens an anti-China front to suppress China’s development, it simply is impossible to do so. But there is room for the US to make trouble for China’s development in multiple spheres.
China’s confidence and calmness is built on sound judgment of what the US can and cannot achieve. The US cannot actually harm China, as has been proved by events taking place in the past two to three years. It tests the wisdom of the Chinese people how to avoid China-US conflicts in more fields and to prevent the US from becoming addicted to causing troubles for China and decoupling from China.
Every time the US finds fault with China and harms China’s interests, the US also suffers losses. As Chinese and US interests are deeply intertwined, both will bear the consequences if they decouple.
If the US wants to push forward decoupling, it will pick relatively easier fields and carry out social mobilization at the same time. Washington has always wanted to crack down on Huawei but even now, it still exempts some dealings between US companies and Huawei. The US speaks loudly but acts slowly, and this is because the US companies and institutions have suffered the pain.
As China struggles more with the US, Chinese society is becoming mature. It knows it faces an odd US government which is full of anxiety. Despite being strong, the US government is not strong enough to support its own ambitions. Meanwhile, it faces election pressure, so its actions do not always make sense.
The US cannot bring China down. Against this backdrop, China should aim to prevent the US from having its way and decoupling from China, while being careful not to get trapped in struggles with the US or allow the process to be turned into a larger-scale domestic mobilization to decouple from China.
Decoupling is emotionally instigative but morally flawed. This provides room for China to take corresponding measures. China should firmly take countermeasures to make the US feel the pain in the face of some US actions. In face of others, China should expose the US’ ill intentions and add some political risks to the US. These will increase the costs to the US of decoupling.
The serious deterioration in China-US ties is a major issue for both countries. On China’s internet, there are many supportive voices for the measures taken by the government, but some objected to the restraint China has exercised and mocked China’s countermeasures. It is worth pointing out that the same group of people may voice two completely different opinions on different occasions.
In a nutshell, China’s responses are steady and effective. In the face of hysteria from some US hawks, the losses China suffers are far from the worst-case scenario as some had feared. The international mobilization of a new cold war by the US has met many chills. At the current juncture, China’s ability to diffuse any new cold war is more than the US’ ability to launch one.