America Cannot Maintain its Contradictions Toward China
According to this editorial by the international forum editor of
the state-controlled Global Times, the central
contradictions at the heart of U.S. policy toward China are beginning to shift in
Beijing's favor: America is losing the capacity
to simultaneously seek better ties with China while holding positions that Beijing strongly
The Dalai Lama: The activities of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and renowned champion of non-violence continue to provoke histrionics on the part of Beijing that most people in the West find nearly inexplicable. But the West may soon have to pay more heed to Beijing's protestations.
President Obama's meeting with
the Dalai Lama has once again exposed the deep contradictions of U.S. foreign
policy toward China: both the need to move forward with relations with China, but
also the desire to contain or inhibit China's development. Experience tells us
that whatever changes occur in Sino-American relations, we shouldn't allow
ourselves to hold idealistic fantasies about Washington.
The Dalai Lama is a
secessionist. This is proven by plenty of evidence, but for Washington, that
isn't the important thing. In fielding the Dalai's invitation to play politics,
Washington's first concern is whether or not to play along, and then how to handle
the meeting so it satisfies the political needs of those who seek to restrain
China. All in the pursuit of achieving their twin-pronged strategic purpose
[pursuing relations while inhibiting China].
The profound contradictions
of U.S. policy toward China are the predictable result of Realpolitik [expediency
over principle]. At its core, the policy places national interest above
anything else and calls for the use of all forms of power to ensure continued
American leadership in the world.
For over thirty years, although
there's been little change in the way decisions about Sino-American relations
are made, the strength of China has gradually increased and relations with the
U.S. have deepened at every level, having an ever-greater impact on the world
at large. This puts Obama in an awkward position - he wants to meet with the
Dalai Lama, but he's worried about pushing China too far. Thus the place, time,
and form of the meeting must to be determined with great care.
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One can forecast that in the
long term, Washington will increasingly confront this contradiction: on the one
hand, it will have to act in accordance with domestic political logic; while on
the other hand, it will have to worry about offending China, which could lead
to a setback in bilateral ties.
In fact, as long as Chinese
power maintains an upward trend, problems like relations across the Taiwan
Strait, the Dalai Lama and Tibet, human rights, the exchange rate of the yuan,
climate change, and trade issues - will become increasingly paradoxical.
While Sino-American relations
have continued to move forward despite these disputes, the disputes themselves aren't
immutable and will shift based on the strength of the two parties. If the United
States can't contain China's development, as it has failed to do for the last three
decades, this contradictory U.S. policy toward China will become ever more
dysfunctional. The growing number of practical problems will force
Washington to make a choice.
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Over the past 30 years, Sino-American
relations haven't always been smooth - there have been some powerful storms.
When these occur, we should soberly recall that the steadier Chinese
development is, the more progress there will be in Sino-American relations, and
the more influence China will have on the United States.
*Wang Wen [王文] is the International Forum editor of the Global
Times. He studied at Lanzhou University, Hong Kong Baptist University, Nanjing
University, Johns Hopkins University and others. His major works include 'World
Governance: A Study of the History of Ideas', and 'Mind Powers: 66 Chinese and
Foreign Scholars on China and the World'.
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