CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Anti-China lawmakers in the West collude to construct 'Cold War' mentality: experts
Published: Jun 09, 2020 09:03 PM Updated: Jun 09, 2020 09:32 PM
The newly-founded Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) has showed a "cold war" mentality by gathering the most radical anti-China lawmakers in Western countries, and by advocating against China, they sacrifice their own countries' interests to seek their personal political gains, said Chinese experts.

The formation of IPAC was announced on Friday with more than 20 high-profile lawmakers in several countries, all skeptical of China joining in. In addition to anti-China icons such as Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez, the alliance includes some of the key legislators in different countries or organizations who never saved their efforts in criticizing China on economy, sovereignty or human rights issues; the list includes politicians such as the European Parliament's Reinhard Bütikofer and Iain Duncan Smith, a member of the British Parliament and former leader of the Conservative Party, the website showed.

IPAC reveals that some Western politicians are trying to establish a united front against China in the West because they see China's rise and development as a challenge to the Western political system and its rules. They embody a Cold War mentality, trying to weaken countries with governance systems that differ from those of the West on a global scale, Li Haidong, an expert from the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Anti-China veterans

The IPAC is consisted of lawmakers in Western countries who believe China's rise is a "challenge" to the world order. The members are veteran politicians that have been active in blaming China on different issues in their own countries.

US Senator Marco Rubio, dubbed as "anti-China pioneer" stood out, particularly, in pushing for IPAC's establishment. Chinese experts noted that Rubio's intention in forming the coalition is quite clear - to pursue a consensus among Western society, governments, and media to counter China socially and politically. 

Marco Rubio arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing. Photo: AFP


"Rubio took the lead in this alliance because he wants to seek more sustained support from the legislative and administrative organs in these countries to support US' rivalry against China," Li said.

Legislative organs in the Western countries have solid connections with the people; gathering anti-China lawmakers from these countries would facilitate the US in spreading the "China threat" theory and create an anti-China atmosphere among the people in the West, Li noted. 

Representatives of the British, German, Japanese and European lawmakers also marked their presence in the group's formation.

George Iain Duncan Smith, who served as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the government of former British Prime Minister David Cameron but resigned over cuts to benefit programs, has become the vanguard of anti-China politics in Britain.

In his article published in British newspaper Daily Mail, Smith smeared China by claiming it deliberately concealed the COVID-19 epidemic and caused delays in the UK's disease control. He questioned the British government's approval of Huawei to participate in the construction of 5G networks in the UK and the involvement of Chinese companies in the construction and operation of new nuclear power plants in the UK, and urged the government to review the relationship between the UK and China.

Alan MacFarlane, Cambridge University Emeritus Professor of Anthropological Science, called Smith a Brexiter and said Brexiters' attacks on China have a political purpose. "The Brexiters [who supported the UK's departure from the EU] have another motive in behaving like this, which is that they know that when we leave the European Union we will be very much dependent on America and therefore they are very keen to try to be as nice to Trump as possible," MacFarlane told China Central Television in April.

In 2019, infamous Australian right-wing politicians Andrew Hastie, James Paterson and Kimberley Kitching formed a bipartisan group called the "Wolverines" to speak out against China.Hastie and Kitching serve as the co-chair of IPAC.  Hastie is an Australian Liberal party politician who serves as Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security and as the Federal MP for Canning, WA in the Australian House of Representatives.

He once compared China's rise to Nazi Germany's in an opinion piece for Channel 9's newspaper, and the Australian attorney-general has slammed Andrew Hastie's views on China, saying his Liberal colleague is oversimplifying Australia's relationship with the country.

Andrew Hastie was denied a visa to visit China in late 2019. Chinese embassy in Australia said in a statement in November that the Chinese people do not welcome those who make unwarranted attacks, wantonly exert pressure on China, challenge China's sovereignty, disrespect China's dignity and undermine mutual trust between China and Australia. 

The IPAC member from EU, Reinhard Bütikofer, is also a representative figure promoting the "China threat" theory, taking advantage of his position. The 67-year-old German politician is a member of the European Parliament and the Co-Chair of the European Green Party, also the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the People's Republic of China.

The Yuanmingyuan Park in Beijing was burned down by the British and French troops in 1860, partially rebuilt, and then sacked again by allied forces of eight invading foreign powers in 1900. Photo: VCG 

Bütikofer, who did not finish his studies on sinology in university, rarely misses a chance to China. In a tweet in 2019, he called China "overbearing." He frequently badmouths China-EU cooperation and relationship, as well as China's development. 

Bütikofer is one of those overseas politicians behind the riots of Hong Kong and is active in interfering in Hong Kong affairs. He supported the illegal "Occupy Central" in 2014. In September 2019, Bütikofer visited Hong Kong to meet leading anti-China and separatist activists in Hong Kong such as Martin Lee Chu-ming and Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the Wen Wei Pao reported.

He is also among the EU group who visited the island of Taiwan in July 2018 to meet Tsai Ing-wen, according to Taiwan's "foreign affairs" authorities. In April, he signed to support Taiwan joining the WHO.

Gen Nakatani, member of the House of Representatives and former Japanese defense minister, is an anti-China hawk politician in Japan.

When he took over as defense minister in 2014, Gen Nakatani made China his first target, smearing China of "violating Japan's territorial waters." He played up the military threat of China.

He also smeared the PLA for its repeated practice of supposed "dangerous behavior" as an extremely dangerous state of affairs.

Gen Nakatani has advocated for increasing Japan's defense budget to build a strong Self-Defense Force and accelerate the pace of military expansion. His ambition of amending the constitution andboosting military capacity has also aroused the alarm of the international community.

Germany's Bundestag member Michael Brand was refused entry into China in 2016 for his criticism of China's policies in its southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region, according to German media. He has also criticized issues related to China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

"Lawmakers from some countries create anti-China public opinion and mobilize against China in the international arena. This is to seek their own political interests regardless of the fundamental interests of their own people," Li said.

Unlikely success

Such anti-China political plots are unlikely to succeed. Many Western countries are allies but wary of each other. In addition, China is also developing and making progress. Most countries still hope to have friendly cooperation with China, Li said.

He told the Global Times that in the past, anti-China groups were dominated by civil society groups, but IPAC is comprised of lawmakers, who have a wide range of contacts with voters in their home countries, even more so than heads of state. The political opinions of lawmakers can easily influence people's understanding of China.

Hong Kong residents wave flags of China and its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in September 2019. Photo: Lu Wenao/GT

However, only a few lawmakers from each country participate, other lawmakers are not necessarily affected, and their behaviors and opinions cannot represent the mainstream in their governments, Li noted.

Geng Shuang, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at press conference on Friday that "We urge this handful of politicians to respect facts and basic norms of international relations, discard their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, and stop exploiting various issues to interfere in China's internal affairs and political manipulation for selfish gains. We hope that they will find ways to contribute constructively to international solidarity and cooperation."


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