Time when US can brainwash others by ideology is over
Published: Aug 24, 2022 09:21 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The view of China as a systemic rival is becoming a dominant stance among EU decision-makers, yet "this view is not fully shared even within the EU, and it is certainly not universal at the global level." This is one of key takeaways in a recent report published by German think tank Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS). Some observers summarized the conclusion as: the anti-China forces are no more than just a small group of Western countries. It may be a simplistic summary, but to some extent, it tells the trend, which the Western countries are growingly feeling incapable to influence. The time which they can brainwash other countries through ideologies has passed. 

At the beginning, the report pointed out that "China's ambitions and international behavior are increasingly felt as challenges to European interests and security" to lead to the cliché - systemic rivalry between China and Europe. 

Europe has had more than 2 million confirmed deaths from COVID-19 as early as May, in the same month, the US officially surpassed 1 million COVID-19 deaths. Against the backdrop, the tone of the report unveils Europe's depression and sense of crisis. 

Yet, instead of reflecting on what went wrong on their own systems for failing in the public health crisis and economic recession, they ridiculously insist that China poses threat to them. 

Yet, when discussing how the EU should respond to an "emerging two-bloc world," MERICS suggests that "there still is room for Europe to strengthen its relationships with partners around the globe, moving beyond the dichotomy of democracies versus authoritarian states."

It is believed that many European countries are unwilling to take sides, but it is a different story when we look at the hype from the media. For example, some German media reports have been busy discussing a possible economic decoupling from China. 

This mirrors a trend that it is challenging for Europe to find its own way, or a three-way balance, as MERICS analyses in the report. First, EU's political structure is immature. Second, the interests of various European countries are different. Third, the US still has a strong ability to influence Europe. It seizes the differences between European countries and uses them in lots of major affairs to strengthen US control. Hence, Europe is not entirely independent in terms of politics.

From the German standpoint, it should be encouraged when it suggests that Europe should not be led by the nose by the US and maintain strategic independence. However, Germany's current perception of China is to a large extent based on a long-term false idea. It regards China's rise as a threat to its capabilities. 

But on the other hand, it is very interesting that when this report claims the US and several European countries see China as systemic rival, it also soberly points out that vast majority of developing countries look at relations with China as an opportunity. Because China provides these countries with the best opportunities for cooperation in commodity, investment, and trade markets.

Developing countries will be more straightforward in expressing their unwillingness to take sides between the two great powers, China and the US. They prefer to see great powers' capability to offer them more help and chances. This is a rational and natural choice. It tells that the time for roping in countries on one's bloc by ideology is over. Africans used to say, "When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land." Developing countries can no longer be fooled. 

And developing countries will permanently avoid taking sides. As long as China maintains the momentum of development, most countries in the world, including European countries, will not take sides. At least they are not willing to do so.

The US, suffering from crises at home, wants to stir things up for China, US House speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit to Taiwan is an example. This is very similar to the feeling reflected in the MERICS' report - with a wish to make some waves. But even if the US tries hard to drive a wedge between China and Europe, it cannot stop more and more countries seeing the cooperation with China as an opportunity. In the end, it will only expose its own depression and sense of loss.

The article is compiled by Global Times reporter based on an interview with Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn