China-US relations will no longer be the same

China-US relations will 1

By Hu Xijin

It is beyond the Chinese people’s imagination that China-US relations have become what they are today. The epidemic outbreak brings new shocks, and the turbulence in relations between the two countries is likely to be more severe. No one in China wants that. Some held the view that China brought this on itself. Those people said China should fully demonstrate its goodwill toward the US and make major concessions in the hope of regaining the trust of the US and putting the relationship back on track.

Those people are so naïve to believe that it is China that has ruined the China-US relationship and as long as China fundamentally changes its attitude, bilateral ties can improve significantly. There are profound and complex reasons for the deterioration of China-US relations. The biggest driving force behind the change in US attitude toward China is the constant change of the strength pattern between China and the US. The US does not accept the possibility of China becoming a parallel and equal force. This is the fundamental reason.

Many people say that in the 1980s, the relationship between China and the US was so good. Why can’t that atmosphere be recovered? In the 1980s the Soviet Union was the No.1 enemy of the US, and a weak China at that time was the one the US was trying to win over. China’s strategic position was as comfortable as India’s is today, and the US adopted a broadly supportive policy towards China. Today, the situation is quite different. A stronger China is seen by Washington as its top strategic rival, and some US politicians are even thinking of roping in Russia to contain China.

If, as they imagine, the US were to return to its old attitude towards China, the first thing China needs to do is to turn back the clock of development by more than 20 years, and go further to reassure the US. This means that China must first stop its high-tech progress and let the US take the lead in all-round scientific and technological development. China has to focus only on low-end industries, unable to compete with the US and the West in high-end manufacturing.

These are not enough. It also means that China needs to fully accept US dominance over the Taiwan question. China should also accept international arbitration on the South China Sea issue and dismantle its new facilities on Nansha Islands. Beijing will have to accept the arrangement of Washington over questions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong of China. Ultimately, the US would also demand that China impose significant self-limits on its development of nuclear weapons and strategic strike capabilities.

Do you think China can back down on these issues? And where does this end? Did the US let Russia off the hook after the collapse of the Soviet Union? No. Russia inherited the Soviet nuclear weapons, which did not reassure the US. The US has spared no effort to further weaken Russia and squeeze its strategic space. What the US really wants to do is weaken China so that it completely loses its strategic competitiveness against the US. The US won’t stop until China is brought to its knees and crippled.

Unfortunately, US strategic vigilance against China is fully activated and the reality is that we can’t go back. It’s meaningless to look back at the old China-US relations. We have to look forward with the strength of realism, accept the challenges we will face as a great power, and meet the challenges of the future with new will and wisdom.

China’s endurance is no longer the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. We have a unique Chinese philosophy of resistance to pressure. We will not become a second Soviet Union, nor will we provoke the antagonism and confrontation between China and the US from our side. China’s way of safeguarding its core interests will be brand new, and we need to surprise history.

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.

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