China ties fall victim to US political infighting
Published: Nov 15, 2017 06:18 PM

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Despite the more than $253 billion in deals US President Donald Trump signed when he visited China, nevertheless some US lawmakers have painted it as a failure to its major rival. 

"You can almost hear the leadership of the Chinese government laughing, from China to America. Maybe you can feel it coming through the ground, because if you dig a hole here, you will reach China. But the reverberation is so appalling," said Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives.

Such views are echoed by major US media outlets, which accused Trump of putting business deals above trade rules in his China trip as he pointed fingers at his predecessors, rather than China, for the huge Sino-US trade deficit. 

This reminds Chinese of the famous quotation of Chairman Mao Zedong, "We should support whatever the enemy opposes and oppose whatever the enemy supports."

Nevertheless, he made the remarks in the early times of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) to call on Chinese people to unite and fight against the Japanese invaders.

But are China and the US at war? Apparently not. Then why do people like Pelosi deem China as an enemy? Maybe because of US politics.

In her criticism of Trump, Pelosi has already taken China as a US enemy. But this is not what China really is. Making China an imaginary enemy is easily acceptable in current US politics.

In this sense, US politics is understandable since its basic standard is to always go against whoever is in office.

Hence the China-US relationship, which is consequential in today's world, is used as a tool in US partisan strife to attack each other, and China is often implicated. This is the tragic part of US politics.

Although Washington hasn't vwhich may be the actual strategy, during Trump's visit to China, his behavior and talks with China's top leaders demonstrate that the two sides can and will figure out ways to avoid a trade war or other conflicts, so they can address some thorny issues and find common ground.

This pragmatic attitude has laid the foundation for the two countries to continue their stable relationship.

What's disturbing is that the attitude can be affected by the intensive political in-fighting in Washington. Some US media has accused Trump of having ties with China in addition to allegations over his ties with Russia. To say the least, Trump has to spare some of his time to deal with this internal strife instead of making important foreign policy decisions.

Diplomacy is an extension of domestic affairs. Since Trump took office in January this year, there have often been dramatic changes in US politics. The scathing opposition of Democrats and Republicans, and the fighting between anti-establishment Republicans and others in the party have affected a raft of US foreign policies and their overall arrangement.

Some of the Democrats' accusations against Trump are indeed considering US interests and are constructive in some sense, which deserve the attention of Trump and his team. But in the climate of partisan rivalry, there is smaller space for the Democratic and Republican parties to coordinate, and accusing Trump has become part of attacking the other side. There has been a clear boundary in the political arena in Washington - whatever you oppose is worth supporting.

As China grows stronger and more influential, US relations with China have become an important topic in the two parties' struggle. US policy on China is hence a tool for one side to attack the other.

Mainstream US media that doesn't favor Trump will continue to find fault with Trump's foreign policy using China as an excuse. The reverberations in public opinion in China and the US will continue to be impacted by the fractures in US domestic politics. 

The author is a senior editor with the People's Daily and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn. Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina