Opinion / Chen Weihua

Blame game a sign of US relative decline

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-21 08:20

Blame game a sign of US relative decline

Strategic and Economic Dialogue principals, including Vice-Premier Wang Yang (first left), Vice-Premier Liu Yandong (second left) and State Councilor Yang Jiechi (third left), meet with US President Barack Obama and members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]

On Wednesday morning at the Hudson Institute, pundits and former government officials were discussing how China's missile and space capability would threaten the United States. On Wednesday afternoon at the Atlantic Council, panelists were speculating how to respond to alleged Chinese cyber espionage.

These talks were held despite the fact that the US missile and space weaponry technology is unparalleled in the world. Using the American logic, it should really be the Chinese who get scared about US threat.

No one touched much on the wide-ranging cyber espionage conducted by the US National Security Agency after the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

These are two of the many seminars in Washington every week where US officials and pundits play up the "China threat," clearly forgetting that China has never engaged in armed conflict with any other nations for at least three decades and it was truly not China which has turned the Middle East into total chaos.

With the unfolding of US presidential election season, many candidates have again believed that making China a bogeyman will help them win votes, just like Republican candidate Mitt Romney tried in the 2012 race with his many Day-One vows on China.

For example, the sarcastically amusing celebrity Republican candidate Donald Trump said last week that China's recent devaluation of its currency would be "devastating" for the US. "They're just destroying us," he said as if he were an economist.

Most economists, including those at IMF, believe Beijing's move is to make the yuan exchange rate more market-oriented. Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, described the Chinese move as exactly what the US has asked for a long time.

None of the US politicians could explain why the US economy has not boomed after the yuan appreciated dramatically in the past decade.

In announcing his presidential bid on June 16, Trump said: "I'll bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I will bring back our jobs, and I'll bring back our money.

He did not say, however, what kind of jobs he will bring back. If he goes to Macy's and other department stores in the US, he will find that most clothing there are no longer made in China, but Vietnam, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where wages are lower.

If Trump wants to make American workers weave cloth and sew garments again, China will be more than happy to move up the supply chain as its new economic strategy aspires to be.

For US politicians, naming China is almost habitual to show that they are tough and have the guts to be a leader regardless how irrelevant such comment is.

"We borrow money from China for our daily expenses. That would be like borrowing money for groceries. Needs to stop!" tweeted Rand Paul, a Senator from Kentucky, on Aug 12. "We are borrowing money from China today," said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal during the Aug 6 Republican presidential debate.

They both have missed the key issue, which is the US national debt is in excess of $18 trillion.

The real question for Paul and Jindal would be if it's not good to borrow from China, would it be okay for US to borrow money from US allies to further expand the national debt? And China certainly has not forced the US to borrow its money.

If a US president can lead his nation by blaming China and others, it must be the easiest job in this world.

Despite their annoyance at the US political blame game, many Chinese have also seen it as a reflection of growing importance and success of China and even a "relative decline" of the United States.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.

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