Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
After whistleblower of the National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden chose Hong Kong as a refuge, China has naturally been associated with the case. And this has created a couple of speculations, like that "Snowden used to cooperate with China's intelligence organizations" and "he is a Chinese spy."
Conspiracy theories on both sides have always been part of the Sino-US relationship.
Some Chinese believe that China should be wary of any adjustment of US strategies. And the typical US warning is that "If China is treated like an enemy it will begin to act like one."
A common phenomenon in the 30 years of Sino-US relations is that one side is always afraid of being plotted against by the other. Besides the structural contradictions in political systems and ideologies, conspiracy theories have aggravated the problem.
The idea of Snowden as a Chinese spy has been fabricated by some Americans out of nothing. This will surely deepen the Chinese public's doubts over US sincerity toward pushing forward the relationship with China.
The conspiracy theories come out of mistrust. Some US politicians discredit China by speculating about the Snowden case, showing that they are in the habit of viewing China as a US enemy.
They think that as Snowden fled to Hong Kong, how can he not be associated with China and China's intelligence agencies? Even it wasn't the fact, it will be in the future.
As China and the US communicate more, such speculations have become the main psychological obstacle that restrains the two walking toward the same direction. After rounds of engagement, one has to wonder about the real intention behind the other's smiling face.
In the opinion sphere of both China and the US, there are psychological expectations that the other country may really be an opponent. That's why conspiracy theories still work today.
However, some Washington politicians deliberately associate Snowden with China, which shows a more dangerous tendency and deepens mutual mistrust.
If the big strategy of the Sino-US relations is aimed at cooperation, but the two imagine each other as enemies when dealing with concrete issues such as the Snowden case, this will bound to influence the consistency of policies and strategies.
Washington to change its Cold War mentality when making policies needs coordination of all departments. More importantly, some politicians should abandon their habitual Cold War thinking, learn to view China from a cooperative perspective and acknowledge the status changes of China and the US in a comprehensive and objective manner.
Beijing should understand the China strategy of the US by taking into account the effect of the Sino-US relationship over the last 30 years, without being distracted by some US politicians.
The process of China and the US establishing a new type of great power relations is one of strengthening mutual trust, which needs to be shown by concrete policies and a reduction of hostile thinking on both sides.
This needs political insight and a broad mind. There's a proverb in China, "The world is as big as your mind." Regrettably, the Snowden case makes us see its antithesis: The world can be as small as one's mind. The author is a senior editor with People's Daily. He's now stationed in Brazil. firstname.lastname@example.org