US needs a correct mindset to compete with China: Global Times editorial
Published: Apr 29, 2021 08:13 PM
Joe Biden Photo: AFP

Joe Biden Photo: AFP

On the eve of his 100th day in office, US President Joe Biden on Wednesday delivered his first address to Congress. He said the US was "in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century." Competition with China almost became the key word of his speech. For example, Biden said China and "other autocrats" think that "democracy can't compete in the 21st century with autocracies because it takes too long to get consensus." Biden warned that proving the Chinese leader wrong is key to the survival of the US. Biden also pushed for more investments in research and development to keep the US competitive with China in technology and science.

China is something that US politicians and political elites must mention whenever they make speeches. This is in sharp contrast to the fact that Chinese leaders never say anything about the US when talking about domestic affairs. In China's new five-year plan and the long-range goals through 2035, there is hardly any mention of the US. Both focus on China's own development and how to address China's own problems. Over the past four decades of reform and opening-up, when China could become the third or second largest economy has never been a goal in any of China's plans. When China's economic scale will surpass that of the US has never been a subject of China's governance. 

The US has not only taken China as a target, but also been obsessed with this mentality. There are probably two main reasons. First, the American elites have lost their confidence and become petty-minded. They cannot accept and feel nervous that other major power is gradually approaching the US in terms of strength. The momentum that China's economy is catching up with the US is beyond their tolerance.

Biden and his team claim every day that the China-US relationship is "a battle between democracies and autocracies," and warn the US will lose to China if it doesn't take action. Their purpose is to promote their agenda by frightening the US political arena and public. The US is politically polarized. Fierce bipartisan struggle in the US has been seriously obstructing agenda. Hyping the "China threat" has become the cheapest and most effective way to mobilize. Therefore, the US administration has increasingly resorted to this old trick.

Such domestic mobilization has been frequently used and proven effective, but it has poisoned American society's perception of the world and international relations. The world is full of competition, but most of the competition could be benign, not zero-sum. What the Chinese people really pursue is to constantly create a better life. To this end, we need to constantly strive to transcend ourselves rather than mull how to surpass the US and the West. US leaders talk about China-US competition in a panicky and hostile manner, which is misleading to US society and the international community. 

Since the reform and opening-up, Chinese society has learned from the US and the West in many aspects. A considerable number of Western elements have been incorporated into our social governance system. Although we have seen many shortcomings of the Western system, we still believe it has its own merits as a comprehensive product of Western social development.

In other words, we don't think because of China's rapid development in recent years, the West should imitate China in terms of political system. We sincerely believe that every country should follow the development path which suits them best. The China-West relationship is not one about "my way or no way." 

We believe Washington also needs to open its mind and face up to the reality of the diverse development of the world today. There cannot be only the Western development model in the world. China's development has proven the strength and compatibility of its system. The US should discover and study China's advantages, proactively digest the information conveyed in China's experiences while continuing to follow its own path. It shouldn't regard China's success as a political "monster." 

 It needs to be pointed out that Chinese society in general has a greater inclusiveness to Western institutional elements than that the US has toward Chinese institutional elements. We are more open-minded than the US side. We are not afraid that other countries perform better than us, and we are willing to learn advanced experiences. But the US elites only think about vicious competition, confrontation, and decoupling.

It must be emphasized that it's the sacred right of all 1.4 billion Chinese people to have a better living standard through the country's development. The US elites fear and try to contain China's development, and turn the normal competition between the two countries into a zero-sum game. This is immoral and runs counter to human rights that they trumpet. Washington cannot say one thing but do another. Blocking the economic and technological progress of developing countries is the biggest sin of the 21st century. They need to bear in mind that it's not the privilege of the Americans and Westerners to live a decent life.