By Jianli Yang
With each passing day, the US-China rivalry intensifies as Beijing struggles to compete against Washington’s power and influence. America’s regard for democracy and advocacy of liberal ideals are major impediments for China’s aspiration to drive global politics and the economy. They also hinder the Chinese Communist Party’s rule within Chinese territory. Therefore, political leaders in China have long portrayed the United States as a villain who intends to end the spirit of China. This propaganda causes the Chinese people to believe that the US is nothing less than a malignant force, and China’s diplomatic strategy, economic policy, and military planning in the post-Cold War era demonstrate this perspective. Although this competition between the two nations always existed, it intensified under the rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose regime has committed several transgressions. A report that was recently presented to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC)—a congressionally established association with a mandate “to review the national security implications of trade and economic ties between the United States and the People’s Republic of China”—gives examples of China’s transgressions.
The first chapter of the report delineates the growing competition between the US and China and how the latter is not backing away from playing dirty. China may not be quite at the center stage of global influencers, but its economic capabilities are constantly increasing. The PRC also looks forward to displacing the United States through diplomacy, such as with underdeveloped nations that are trapped in China’s debt.
Simultaneously, China complicates its relations with the European Union, Japan, India, and other significant US allies, and Beijing has shown a growing eagerness to manipulate those ties. Since General Secretary Xi’s rise to prominence, China has consistently pressured Japan and India, militarily or otherwise, thus prompting a critical crumbling in Sino-Japanese and Sino-Indian ties. China also influences decisions at the United Nations in a way that best suits its interests; the PRC is probably the only nation to exercise its veto power to such a great extent.
China’s strategy also mobilizes support for its interests by building influence among both G77 countries, which comprises 70 percent of UN member states, and nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This work to situate itself as a hero of developing nations has for some time been a critical component of its international strategy.
For China, the CCP’s relevance is of paramount importance; or to phrase it another way, for the CCP, its relevance is of paramount importance. In such a case, the ideology of the US and Western notions of governance are a major threat to the CCP’s validity. Where the US believes in the efficacy of peaceful transformation, China puts its faith in a contrary ideology, one that disregards religious liberty for its citizens, including Uighurs. It fears that the US will, in bits and pieces, obliterate the importance of the CCP. Hence, China resorts to force and strict policies, at the cost of being draconian in many cases, to keep itself relevant in a world that is embracing the idea of liberty. So under General Secretary Xi, Chinese leaders’ perspectives on US philosophical antagonism toward them and America’s perceived threats have solidified further. Their views have enveloped essentially every aspect of China’s interactions with the United States.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s in-depth report details these and other PRC transgressions and can help decide the future course of US action. And the US must act because China is threatening the sovereignty of other states that might not share its ideology. Big nations now have a responsibility to devise a plan to check and balance China.
This article first appeared in Providence on February 25, 2021