Someone attempts to knock down another foundation of China-US relations: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 28, 2023 11:39 PM Updated: Jun 28, 2023 11:32 PM
China-US relationship. Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Several House Republicans recently wrote an open letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the government not to renew China-US Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, which is set to expire on August 27. Previously, there were reports of internal debates within the US government on whether to renew the agreement. As one of the foundational documents of China-US diplomatic relations, the US-China agreement on scientific cooperation is renewed about every five years and has never been interrupted for decades. The renewal has long been considered a matter of course. However, due to the heightened fear of the so-called "China stealing US technology," the fate of this agreement now faces significant uncertainty.

Anyone with basic common sense about China-US relations knows that the China-US Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement is not a "sensitive contract." It is not dedicated to "cutting-edge" advanced technology cooperation, but rather covers areas of cooperation primarily in basic research, including environmental sciences, agricultural sciences, physics, and chemistry. Under its framework, a series of mechanisms for bilateral cooperation on climate change, agriculture, biodiversity, and other areas have been established between China and the US. Even when bilateral relations were impacted by Taiwan Straits crisis or collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a US spy plane over the South China Sea, these cooperative efforts have remained largely unaffected. This agreement has served as a flexible framework, firmly guarding the bottom line of exchanges and cooperation between China and the US for decades. If we were to talk about the "guardrails" of China-US relations, this agreement is one of the most important ones.

Over the past several decades, the China-US Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement has not only promoted scientific research cooperation between the two countries but has also directly facilitated exchanges in fields such as business, education, and culture, bringing tremendous benefits to China, the US and the world. In critical areas like agriculture, the US has benefited substantially from this agreement. Those anti-China lawmakers cannot find any faults with it, so they resort to baseless "concerns" to hinder its continuation. Even the US media acknowledges that this agreement is "a powerful sign that the rivals could set aside their disputes and work together." If even such a moderate and inclusive agreement is deemed a "security loophole" or a "threat" and has to be suspended, it would be a historic mistake and extremely regrettable.

According to US media reports, the mainstream view in the country still leans toward renewing the agreement, indicating that they want to uphold several rational bottom lines in their relationship with China and understand the value of this agreement to the US. In other words, this agreement is by no means unilateral assistance or favor from the US to China. China-US scientific and technological cooperation is a win-win situation, and this is the reason why the cooperation agreement can be renewed until today. However, the distorted political atmosphere in Washington has facilitated radical anti-China politicians, and they often succeed in attacking their chosen targets even if it means "harming themselves to hurt the enemy." This science deal has faced more disruptions this year than in the past, and some people do want to sabotage it.

This, to some extent, reflects how unconfident these anti-China US politicians have become. They have completely ignored the fact that the US has an equal ability to set the agenda in this agreement. Whenever something is related to "China" and "technology," they instinctively feel fear as if it were a ferocious beast. In this demonized political atmosphere, even those who have knowledge about this agreement are more inclined to avoid trouble and follow the crowd, thereby accelerating the deterioration of bilateral relations.

Wherever Washington goes, it talks extensively about building "guardrails" for China-US relations, but what the world actually sees is that it is gradually undermining or even dismantling the very foundation of China-US relations, either actively or passively. The preservation of the US-China agreement on scientific cooperation will hold a significant symbolic meaning. If it is terminated, other crucial pillars of China-US relations are likely to crumble swiftly.

Therefore, we call on insightful individuals within both China and the US, especially those in the US, as well as the global forces of justice to stand up and unequivocally condemn the destructive actions of certain American politicians, exerting strong moral pressure on these politicians to prevent the interests of the Chinese and American peoples, as well as interests of the people worldwide, from being hijacked and sacrificed by a few American politicians.

In the history of mankind, no country has ever exclusively enjoyed the benefits of technological development. Some people in Washington want to hide "technological achievements," fearing that others will steal them, but in the end, it will be their own prospects of innovation that suffocate. In stark contrast to their narrow-mindedness, the value of all technological achievements is ultimately determined by the extent to which they are shared by all of humanity.