After living in U.S. for a long time, I am still surprised by the ignorance of Americans toward China. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised giving they did elect a semiliterate ignoramus Trump as president and most of them are ignorant of American history, not to mention Chinese history. Yet those CIA analysts and those from academia continue to display arrogance and predicting China’s demise or threat, What cause this blindness as China is vaulting ahead of U.S. in economy and science? There were many people predicting China’s rise correctly. I will enumerate those as examples, Joseph Needham ( Science and Civilization in China ), Martin Jacques ( When China Rules the World ), Edgar Snow ( Red Star over China ), and William Hinton (Fanshen ).
What differs these people from the so called China experts and even those reporters stationed in China for a while are the understanding of Chinese history and the value system. For those reporters took away from what President Xi of China spoke on the 19th Party Congress was mostly the length than the content of his speech. For those educated in the West the most important value are “Rights”, “Freedom”, and “Individual”. For Chinese they are “Obligation”, “Harmony”, and “Society”. They view China from their own perspective and thus unable to understand China. For them human rights in abstract such as superficial view of voting and slogan of democracy are paramount, while belittling the real human right to food, shelter, and health. They disregard the meritocracy of China as exemplified by Xi’s biography compared with the rise of Trump which reveals the bankruptcy of liberal democracy. So called freedom and individualism isolate people in their struggle for survival with opioid epidemic to ameliorate their physical and mental pains. The rights are meaningless when structural blocks such as gerrymandering and electoral college belies 1 man, 1 vote mantra. China has abandoned slavery 2,500 years ago and evolved social relations as obligation to society and each other. Xi’s lifting all Chinese out of poverty by 2020 is achievable comparing with Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty which is receding in U.S..
As China’s 1 Belt, 1 Road initiative gathers steam and shows the world a better path to prosperity than the failed Washington Consensus, I think we should recognize China is not a threat but necessary ingredient for world peace. I would like to make certain predictions on China’s relation to her neighbors which is exaggerated as threats by Western Press.
- If India is willing to overcome feeling of humiliation and settle border on the basis of line of control, China will oblige and accept McMahon line.
- China will negotiate with Vietnam and Philippine on South China Sea on status quo and joint development.
- Forget about any change in Tibet or Xinjiang. With climate changes making water more important than oil, China will continue water diversion south to north, from Tibetan plateau to irrigate desserts in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Migration will continue from East to West, and separatism sentiment will disappear as in U.S..
- China is not interested in lands or resources of her neighbors. China never has, but setting her sights to moon and outer space.
As Xi said, China is building toward socialism which is certainly a threat to western Capitalism, but on peaceful competition. West sees China as a threat because they can’t imagine China not using her power as West has been doing for the last 200 years. Thus U.S. is both over estimating China’s military threat and under estimating China’s peaceful ambitions.