Rising tensions spark more China-US clash speculation

By Chen Qingqing and Cao Siqi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/20 0:03:40 Last Updated: 2020/7/20 0:33:40

China US

 As China-US relations continue fraying amid escalating tensions on a series of topics including Hong Kong, the South China Sea, Huawei and Xinjiang, there have been speculations on  whether a hot war between the two major powers is looming. Viewing China as a Cold War-styled rival and hyping extreme anti-China rhetoric are tactics of certain American policy hawks aiming to manipulate public opinion and pursuing elections result, some Chinese observers said. 

In his latest phone interview, US Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said his top priority since he became secretary was to implement the National Defense Strategy, and China is major problem for the US, according to an official statement released on the website of the US Department of Defense. 

. "We're in an era of great power competition … and that means that our top strategic competitors are China, then Russia," Esper said, noting that China is becoming a bigger problem as it has the population and economic power to displace the US. 

The US official also described the Communist Party of China (CPC), not a rising China itself, as a concern to US politicians, claiming it comprises of a long-term challenge and threat to the Western world. 

The two countries, first engaged in trade disputes two years ago, have been witnessing growing confrontations on more aspects including high-tech, diplomacy, people-to-people ties and ideology. 

When both sides are pondering whether the two countries are edging closer to a new cold war, or even a complete decoupling, such thinking is dangerous and makes the world nervous, as other countries can't easily choose a side between two different power blocs in a highly integrated world, like what they had been forced to do during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, according to some Chinese observers. 

Hong Kong residents hold banners opposing the US and foreign meddling in China's internal affairs in front of the US Consulate General in Hong Kong on July 2.

An all-time low

Facing constant verbal attacks, reckless smear campaigns and even rumors on China-related topics, from some senior US politicians and major US media outlets, Chinese officials and observers agreed that China-US relations are at an all-time low. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized the US' America First policy, pushing egoism, unilateralism, bullying to the extreme, which is not how a big power is supposed to behave, in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Friday. 

The US has lost its mind, moral ground and credibility as it constantly shifts responsibility to others, launches smear campaigns amid the coronavirus outbreak and incites trouble leading to  confrontations in international relations, Wang was quoted as saying in a statement on the ministry's website on Saturday. 

The possible ban considered by the White House on CPC members and their families from traveling to the US is seen as a paranoid and McCarthyist move driven by ideological bias, which reminds the public of ideological confrontation that split the world in the Cold War era. 

A growing number of negative views among some politicians towards China, which are essentially expressed regarding security concerns about China, actually constitute a serious regression in its mentality, Martin Jacques, a senior fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University, told the Global Times on Friday. 

"It reminds me very much of the Cold War. In fact, such thinking is Cold War thinking: China is the evil enemy and it has to be rejected," Jacques said, noting that they reduced China only to a communist regime but the whole of Chinese history gets lost in the process, so they have no understanding whatsoever of China. 

Still, such political and ideological bias doesn't represent the overall Western view of China, especially when the White House is now packed with anti-China American hawks such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is notorious to the Chinese public for his relentless and disgraceful attacks on topics ranging from the South China Sea to Xinjiang and Hong Kong. 

"The harsh anti-China rhetoric of some US politicians, which is trying to instigate a new cold war, won't be accepted by rest of the world... and the world won't go back to the old days," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University,

In addition, social inequality and related divergences have been deepened in the US due to its completely chaotic response to the coronavirus outbreak, and such a America in decline is becoming too fragile to initiate a new cold war against other countries, which is just unrealistic, the professor noted. "But some politicians, particularly those in GOP facing elections, have gone too far in this game, as they won't give up on hijacking public opinion for the upcoming election," he said. 

New cold war 'unlikely'

 "These key US government departments jointly voicing their opinions shows that the US treats China as its primary opponent and is launching a comprehensive containment strategy against it with the signs becoming increasingly obvious, the tactics becoming more and more diverse, and the force becoming stronger and stronger," Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

However, Xin believes that a new cold war will not emerge between China and the US because China has never intended to challenge or replace the US, and has no intention of confronting the US in a comprehensive manner.

Recently, some Western media outlets have been dedicated to hyping up China-US competition, suggesting that a new cold war between the two powers is looming, and even a hot war is possible as the US has thrown down the gauntlet to China on several occasions. 

"Such suggestions are misleading," Xin said, noting that the cold war refers to the fierce rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union and participation was mutual.

Unlike the US, China has never wanted a repeat of the Cold War and always showed clear restraint in its attitude and cautiousness in strategy. Meanwhile, during the Cold War, the two camps had been formed and were antagonistic to each other. The situation is different from today's global context, Xin pointed out. 

"Some people in the US are still immersed in the memories of the Cold War and seek to win it again. However, they fail to realize that their fantasies will not fool the people in the world and the tide of the globalization will not allow them to push the humanity back into the Cold War era," Xin said.  

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