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Primal fear


Editor's note: The world has undergone many changes and shocks in recent years. Enhanced dialogue between scholars from China and overseas is needed to build mutual understanding on many problems the world faces. For this purpose, the China Watch Institute of China Daily and the National Institute for Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, jointly present this special column: The Global Strategy Dialogue, in which experts from China and abroad will offer insightful views, analysis and fresh perspectives on long-term strategic issues of global importance.

Washington pushing the world to brink of disaster with its anxiety at a changing world

As shown by the recently released US National Security Strategy and comments from several US officials, the United States views China and Russia as strategic opponents. Washington has no intention of brokering an early ceasefire in the protracted Russia-Ukraine conflict that has cost countless lives and brought major security and economic challenges to the world. Instead, it has become more deeply involved, supplying huge amounts of military assistance to Ukraine. It has also been increasing its military deployments around China. Its so-called values-based diplomacy on the international stage is nothing but a move to suppress China and Russia as much as possible, trying to take the opportunity to strengthen its global hegemony after the Cold War.

After Joe Biden took office as president, the US foreign policy has become more directional. The unilateralism of the Donald Trump era has been adjusted to selective multilateralism, and the US is striving to achieve its strategic goals in the short term with the help of the Western bloc. Under Biden's leadership, the US has continued to promote NATO's eastward expansion, with frequent moves on Russia's western border, and openly ignored Russia's strategic redlines on issues such as Ukraine's accession to NATO. Russia, being cornered, has been forced to launch a forceful pushback. As for China, the US replaces the wording "confrontation" with "competition" in bilateral relations. But in essence, it is still trying to contain China's rise to the greatest possible extent and destroy the external environment on which China relies for its development.

The latest version of the US National Security Strategy calls Russia "profoundly dangerous "and a "persistent threat to international peace and stability". For China-US relations, the new report takes a more dangerous step than the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance released by the administration last year. In the latest report, China is identified as "the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it".

But although the Biden administration seems to have gained the upper hand, having obtained the full support of the G7 and the US' revived leadership of NATO, as well as various newly established multilateral frameworks, there is a prospect that the US cannot always assert control over how things unfold. With the US continuing down the wrong path, it has brought the world back into a state of camp confrontation and hindered the post-pandemic recovery of the global economy. It will also plunge the European continent and even the wider geographical space into the most dangerous situation after World War II.

From the US perspective, China and Russia can be treated differently. It has tried to avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia. While achieving its stated goal of bringing Russia to the brink of collapse, the US has pushed Ukrainians into the battlefield, and is forcing Europe to make huge sacrifices, and imposing over 10-thousand sanctions against Russia. The Biden administration is also using information warfare to damage the image of Russia and its leader and manipulate public opinion.

In dealing with China, the US has to take the lead itself, shifting from its attempt in trade decoupling to using technological blockade and strengthening anti-China alliances. The US has launched its "Indo-Pacific strategy" in an attempt to contain China. Meanwhile, it has been the focus of the US' recent China policy to use the Russia-Ukraine conflict as an opportunity to put China and Russia in the same boat, muddy the waters across the Taiwan Straits, and hype up human rights issues in Xinjiang. While the US has expressed its understanding of the concerns expressed by many countries about its competition with Beijing, it refuses to give up its provocative China policy.

In the current trilateral relationship between China, the US and Russia, Washington, in its wishful thinking, sees Beijing and Moscow as an anti-Western force, and is ready to use its own strengths to repeat the old methods of dealing with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which reflects its stubborn adherence to the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game. In doing so, it has tried to establish an international system that is conducive to maintaining its hegemony. The US approach has not only intensified the existing differences and tensions in relations with China and Russia, but also brought greater uncertainty to global security and development.

It is the hope of China, Russia and other emerging market countries and developing countries that the world will be multipolar in the future, and that the international order will develop in a fair and reasonable direction and offer all countries equal opportunities. From the US perspective, the great powers are engaged in a struggle for the future. The US administration has tried to beautify its dirty deeds by portraying it as a so-called struggle between dictatorship and democracy. NATO, originally a product of the Cold War, has become a tool for the US to interfere in international affairs and the internal affairs of other countries.

The extensive application of information technology should be an important symbol of the significant progress of human society. It should better serve globalization, promote exchanges between countries and peoples, and strengthen economic and cultural ties. However, this technology is being employed by Washington for political and military purposes. In order to achieve the blockade of China in the sectors of semiconductor and chip technology, the US has repeatedly tried to establish rules that could serve as blockade as a means of punishment. The result can only be a hindrance to the progress of science and technology and global economic development.

The latest US National Security Strategy shows that the US pays more attention to the technical level in containing the development of China and Russia. From attacks focusing on systems and development paths in the past to now focusing more on technology and public opinion, the approach by Washington has not only posed obstacles to Beijing and Moscow in their just course of seeking national rejuvenation, but also brought challenges to its Western allies and their own people. This practice is unsustainable. No matter how colorfully it is painted by the administration, it is doomed to failure. In a world with converging and intertwined interests and in the face of the overarching trend for promoting peace and development through cooperation, as well as challenges including climate change, epidemic diseases, and food security, it is our hope that the US government can change its course and regain rationality in its policies toward China and Russia. Washington should seek peaceful coexistence, mutual benefits and win-win results, work toward mutual security, trust and strategic balance among major powers, and facilitate joint contributions to global stability.

The author is director of the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn