Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Opinion / Chen Weihua

We are talking about the US' 'relative' decline, Mr Blinken

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-12 07:19
Share - WeChat

It's no secret that US politicians like to use inflammatory rhetoric against China in their effort to fulfill their domestic agendas given the bipartisan support for anti-China policies and the huge partisan divide on virtually every other issue. That's exactly what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did when he spoke on the renewed prioritization of foreign policy in domestic politics at the University of Maryland on Monday.

When Blinken mentioned China's huge investment in infrastructure and innovation, he wasn't praising China but fear-mongering that China wants to take over the United States.

Blinken quoted US President Joe Biden that "it's never a good bet to bet against America-never has been, never will be". He said "it's no secret to any of us that the Chinese and Russian governments, among others, are making the argument in public and in private that the United States is in decline, so it's better to cast your lot with their authoritarian visions for the world than with our democratic one".

These are baseless accusations and, needless to say, Blinken cannot provide evidence to prove what he said is true.

What is true and what Blinken failed to say is a recent Ipsos survey in which 55 percent of the American respondents said their country is in decline. Another Ipsos survey released on July 29, too, showed that 55 percent of Americans think things in their country are heading in the wrong direction. So, rather than the Chinese or Russians, it's the majority of Americans' feelings that Blinken described.

The talks about the US' decline I have heard in China, Europe and elsewhere have mostly been about the US' relative decline. Which is true because the US' share of global GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) was 21 percent in 1980, 20 percent in 2000 and 16 percent in 2020. And it will be less than 15 percent according to Aaron O'Neill, a researcher at Statista.

The fact that Blinken admitted that China is fast catching up with the US in economy, infrastructure and innovation is an acknowledgement of the US' relative decline. It is not just about China, but also about the rise of India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, which will all be among the top 10 world economies in terms of GDP(PPP) by 2050, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

Most economists agree that China's economy will exceed the US' in the coming decade or so, although the International Monetary Fund said in 2014 that the Chinese economy was already bigger than the US' in terms of GDP (PPP).

With a population of 1.4 billion, China will still be far behind the US and many other rich countries in per capita GDP terms and other development criteria. That is true for the other emerging economies as well.

US politicians such as Blinken should welcome the achievements China and other emerging economies have made in narrowing the GDP gap with the developed world.

But what we see instead is US officials and lawmakers adopting all sorts of bullying tactics to undermine China's development, especially in the field of technology including in the solar energy sector that is critical to mitigating the effects of climate change.

Many experts say the Biden administration's reluctance to lift the tariffs imposed by the Donald Trump administration on Chinese exports, while aimed at hurting China, is in fact harming the domestic economy. No wonder on Aug 5 more than 30 US business groups, from retailers, and chip makers to farmers wrote a joint letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and demanded that the tariffs be scrapped because they were harming the interests of US workers.

China is not betting on the US' absolute decline nor does it aspire to replace the US, so the US should not bet on halting China's rise in the hope that that would slow down its inevitable relative decline.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.


Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349