US to become ‘furious tyrant’ as it pursues unilateralism
Published: Jun 08, 2022 08:45 PM
US Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

US Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

During the forthcoming 19th Shangri-la Dialogue, defence leaders and senior military officers from many countries will exchange ideas on security issues in the Asia-Pacific and the globe as a whole. Recently, some senior US officials again criticized Beijing as the key challenger to the existing international system. Such perception, unfortunately, is a misperception of China. As a matter of fact, today China is an increasingly active contributor and protector of the international system. Meanwhile, it is Washington that undermines the international security order, bringing growing risks and challenges to global peace and regional stability.

I. China-US cooperation in the hard-won international system

Since the end of the World War II, the global strategic situation has been generally peaceful and stable without any wars amongst major powers. Such achievement, undoubtedly, is hard-earned. 

During the last world war, the US fought side by side with other major countries including the former Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom and France, and finally won the war against Fascism. 

With the light of victory shining in the sky, Washington actively participated in establishing the United Nations, which has been the core of the international collective security mechanism. Other major countries contributed significantly to the building of the multilateral security architecture, too. Such an institution has been the vital pillar of world peace thereafter, as it helps manage crises, build trust and foster a stable international environment for development and prosperity. 

Besides, the US played a prominent role for decades, pushing forward economic globalization where China and America engaged in fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation. Simultaneously, as a major power, the US was a key supplier of public goods for the international community. 

Hence, from establishing the international security system to promoting globalization and providing international public goods, the US played a critical role, although it was not immune from wrongdoings. Also, China normalized its relationship with the US and opened itself up to the outside world in the late 1970s, firmly contributing to the maintenance of the existing international system. 

Today, China continues upholding the international system through collaboration and cooperation with other countries. On the contrary, from Beijing's perspective, it is Washington's foreign policy that poses an imminent and severe challenge to the international system.

II. Unilateralism on the rise

The end of the Cold War kicked off the era of unipolar world, which has seen the US increasingly follow unilateralism. Since the beginning of this century, in particular, the US has launched wars on the pretext of "anti-terrorism" against Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, causing over 800,000 deaths. 

In the past few years, such unilateralism has been reflected by Washington's exit from established international institutions, largely in three ways. 

The first is exiting from global agreements and institutions, including the Iran nuclear deal, UNESCO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, etc.

The second is exiting from regional institutions, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Open Skies Treaty.

The third is exiting from bilateral treaties, for instance the ABM Treaty and the INF treaty. 

Consequently, the international security order that has guaranteed world peace during the past seven decades is dissolving. If Washington continues adhering to unilateralism to pursue its interests, instead of maintaining the collective security mechanism, world peace and stability could be in danger. 

III. The sinister design of US Indo-Pacific Strategy

Nowadays, the US spares no efforts in implementing its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which contains sinister motives. 

The first is taking moral high ground through alarming regional countries of the so-called "China threat," and playing China and the rest of Asia against one another. 

The second is dividing Asian countries and undermining the central role of ASEAN in the region. For instance, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework includes only seven out of the ten ASEAN members. Such efforts are designed to induce and press Asian states to take sides between China and the US.

The third is stirring up sensitive security issues including the Taiwan question, the South China Sea issue, etc., creating tensions in the region, so as to establish the "NATO for the Asia-Pacific." 

Notably, Asia has been the most peaceful and stable region in the world during the past four decades. In contrast, the US and NATO have caused turbulence, war and disaster in Europe and the Middle East. Today, the US is trying to push NATO to step into the Asia-Pacific, building an anti-China encirclement. Such movements will harm peace and stability in Asia and jeopardize the regional prosperity.

IV. US soft power waning

The rising unilateralism in US foreign policy could in turn affect US own interests, as Uncle Sam is getting lonely in the world. 

The US-led NATO expansion has intensified conflicts between Russia and Europe, bringing Europe under the shadow of war. Looking at European trouble with indifference and even adding fuel to the flames, the US will see a further decrease of its soft power and reputation worldwide. 

To some extent and on some issues, today an increasing number of countries including some US allies and partners tend to keep "social distance" from the US. In particular, they don't want to be forced to take sides between Washington and Beijing. Moreover, European powers like Germany and France are accelerating their efforts to embrace strategic autonomy. Such a tendency might indicate the gradual waning of US soft power globally. 

If Washington's foreign policy continues moving along this track, perhaps Uncle Sam will be more and more lonely and upset, and even become a "furious tyrant" that keeps allies and friends away further. 

V. China keeps its door open for China-US cooperation

At present, a severe challenge to peace and stability of the world is the insufficient supply of international public goods, as shown in the global response to COVID-19. Actually, the problem is largely caused by the lack of willingness of Washington to efficiently provide public goods to the international community and effectively cooperate with other countries. 

In face of the pandemic which is perhaps the most damaging one during the past century, no single nation can manage alone or stand aloof, and no single power is capable of providing all international public goods. Thus, the collaboration and cooperation among major powers are critical. 

China always keeps its door open for cooperation with the US to uphold the hard-won international order. During the process, of course, China needs to protect its core national interests as well.

In this sense, the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the US, because China wants to coexist and cooperate with the US, having common friends and partners, rather than pushing Asia-Pacific countries to choose between the two. After all, Sino-US cooperation is in the expectation of the international society as well as the fundamental interests of both peoples.

The author is Senior Colonel and Associate Professor at the National Defense University, China. The views expressed here are those of the author's and do not represent the position of the PLA or the NDU. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn