Is China ready to face direct competition with US?

By Ai Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/20 23:18:40

When the last US National Security Strategy was issued in 2015, China was a partner of Washington. Only two years later, however, it has become a competitor in US President Donald Trump's latest national security plan. When it comes to all the tremendous efforts Beijing has dedicated to promoting a constructive partnership between the two sides during this period, Washington seems to have been casting a cold eye. All it sees is white-hot Sino-US competition. It is time for China to start deliberating how to face up to direct competition with the US.

China never thought that the era of Beijing-Washington competition would come so soon. Frankly speaking, China is not ready, since all it has been doing is focusing on its own development and its own growth. Chinese people believe that although the country has become the world's second-largest economy, a great gap still exists in regard to technology, military, education etc.

Yet Americans do not see it that way. They see no progress, or even a recession in their national strength over the past few years, while China is rising sharply. Especially since the Made in China 2025 strategy was announced by China, the US has been sensing Beijing may take over the global value chain in no time.

Washington, which used to be confident, is now disappointed with itself and what Trump is attempting to do is to promote US competence through competing with Beijing and prevent China from gaining core techniques so as to maintain US superiority.

Many Chinese think that as long as Beijing keeps concentrating on improving itself, there is no need to worry about the competition. However, Washington's Cold War mindset has increased difficulties for that approach. For instance, if Beijing wants to become self-sufficient in core technologies like artificial intelligence and electric automobiles and compete with Washington, it must first of all learn from the US. Hence China has some hard thinking to do over how to get stronger when the US deems it a major competitor.

Such an antagonistic atmosphere can hardly be relaxed unilaterally. Trump stresses America First doctrine and will not sacrifice US competence when interacting with China. The same goes for Beijing. From this perspective, the Sino-US relationship is sometimes indeed a zero-sum game. So when China improves itself, it must also consider how to deal with the US response.

China has always valued collaboration, but that does not mean it is reluctant to confront competition. Beijing has no interest in seeking global hegemony, and yet it will realize its goal of development. Such a process cannot be blocked by any force. 

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