OPINION / COLUMNISTS
Handling of trade war, pandemic consolidates Chinese people’s political confidence
Published: Nov 09, 2021 12:33 PM
Tourists visited Tiananmen Square to relive the exciting moment of the CPC centennial Photo:Li Hao/GT

Tourists visited Tiananmen Square to relive the exciting moment of the CPC centennial. Photo:Li Hao/GT

China is holding the sixth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The outside world is very concerned about China's self-evaluation of the past nine years. I have read the relevant interpretation from the Chinese state media, and found them to be very comprehensive. I would like to complement a bit the important changes that have taken place in the past four to five years.

Over the past years, two things have hit China the most. One is the strategic conflict between China and the US triggered by the sharp escalation of the trade war launched by the US against China. The other is the novel coronavirus epidemic. Both of the two incidents brought some panic to Chinese society in the early stage and the confidence of Chinese society was tested.

Objectively speaking, many Chinese people were frightened by the posture of the US to comprehensively suppress China in the early stage of the China-US trade war. They were extremely pessimistic and worried that China's good days were coming to an end. They feared our economic development might be gravely restricted by US sanctions. 

At that time, there was a well-known speech suggesting that if China-US relations deteriorated further, the prospects of the Chinese young people will turn dim for the rest of their lives. This reflected the typical mentality of some Chinese people at that time: fear of the US, and anxiety. I must say that China is fortunate to have a strong central government. It has provided the backbone for society and led the country through that turbulent period.

Some people think that the conflict between China and the US might have been avoided. But their evidence is flimsy. The US suppression of China's rise has been considered inevitable by a fair number of scholars. One of the great achievements of the past few years is that China has successfully met this contest. The moderate Chinese society has overcome the uneasiness. It faced top international political conflicts and practiced a prudent strategy. This entailed "not wanting a war, not being afraid of one, and having to fight one when necessary." China has forcefully responded to the attacks from the US by doing its own things well. This has broken down US arrogance.

A few years has passed. Are Chinese people still afraid of the US? In my take, such facts have encouraged the Chinese people. Our economy has grown stronger as our struggle with the US goes on, further narrowing the strength gap with the US. Meanwhile, psychologically we have also got rid of "fear of America." This means China not only has the ability to develop but also becomes more resilient of tides and storms. For a big country, the strategic significance of such changes means more than a lot.

Does everybody still remember the panic in our society in late January and early February last year? Many were disappointed with the situation at that time. It was again the central government's steady efforts that turned the tide at the most critical moments. In just two to three months, the world's COVID-19 fight reversed the situation. China managed to secure the heights of its strategic initiatives. China's fight against the pandemic has fully demonstrated the advantages of the Chinese system. It has reshaped many Chinese people's perceptions of comparisons between China and Western countries. Chinese society's political confidence has again been fundamentally consolidated. 

The trade war between the US and China and the fight against COVID-19 are two super examples that have reset the Chinese people's political understanding. We have not only had better perception of ourselves, but also gained new knowledge of the US that no one could have imagined. The US has been arrogant in the trade war. It lacks a basic humanitarian spirit in the face of the raging pandemic. It has engaged in chaotic national policies with numerous flaws in governance. In this age of globalization, our self-knowledge is more mature because of the abundance of comparative examples.  

In the past few years, China has experienced its "coming-of-age" as a great power. Our material is richer. We have built a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Our poverty alleviation achievements are remarkable. We have grown stronger both materially and mentally. No one can intimidate us anymore, and no impact can overwhelm us. China's overall national strength has added a key element of psychological strength. As a result, China will be more resilient and credible in the future international competition with an aura of dignity.

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn
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