Trump speech accused of showing Cold War mentality

By Li Ruohan and Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/31 13:13:39

Trump speech attracts 8m hits on Sina Weibo

US President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

The US should not perceive China as a rival and should stop hyping the rhetoric to gain military and political mileage, experts warned following US President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address.

"Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values," Trump said in his speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night local time.

It is alarming and provocative for Trump to call China a US rival again and especially to lump China together with rogue regimes and terrorist groups, Liu Yawei, director of the China Program of the Carter Center, told the Global Times.

After unveiling the US national security strategy in December 2017, Trump also named Russia and China as "rival powers."

Trump is using a negative sentiment toward China for more leverage in diplomatic relations, though he personally might not believe in it, Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the China Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, told the Global Times.

However, the rhetoric was not what both countries expected, especially after the leaders of both countries had close contact, and the countries engaged in fruitful economic cooperation, Liu Yawei added. 

"Since the Cold War, the US has been searching for a strategic rival but attempts by past administrations were derailed by other geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and East Europe … but based on recent reports and speeches, we see an increasingly clear strategy shift toward China," Teng Jianqun, director of the Department for American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said at a panel discussion at the Center for China and Globalization (CCG).

The common interests far outweigh the disagreements with the US and cooperation is the only right choice for both sides, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Wednesday.

China expects the US to drop the outdated Cold War and zero-sum game mentality and work for a shared goal with China, Hua said.

Following the rival theory, Trump asked Congress to end the "dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military," and to modernize and rebuild the US nuclear arsenal.

As the US is already the country with the highest military and defense budget, it will turn into an arms race, an unwanted development not only for China but for the world as well, Liu Yawei said.

The US rivalry philosophy will only lead to losses on both sides, and will not be wise to turn it into a test of who can afford the most suffering, Liu added.

It's worth trying to understand why there's growing concern and fear among Americans toward China when the two countries enjoy increasingly interdependent economic, trade and financial relations, he explained.

Playing safe

In his 80-minute speech, Trump reaffirmed the "fair and reciprocal" trading relations without mentioning China or accusing Beijing of trade abuses.

He also avoided asking China to "do more" when calling for a campaign of "maximum pressure" against North Korea.

The shrewd president aims to leave some leeway for his policy toward China, and there's no need to anger China in the speech that mainly targets the domestic audience, Liu Weidong said.

The hashtag "about Trump's address" attracted more than 8 million hits on China's Sina Weibo platform as of press time.


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