Opinion / Chen Weihua

Confrontational and zero-sum mindset harms relations

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-18 07:43

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the US presidential election, has been busy talking about national security by mostly mocking her Republican rival Donald Trump in a manner akin to late-night talk show hosts.

Like all politicians who like to take credit but not the blame, she said early this month: "I wrestled with the Chinese over a climate deal in Copenhagen." Yet this is a credit she certainly doesn't deserve.

China's strong resolve to fight pollution and climate change is not a result of outside pressure, but the desire of its people. In Washington last week, Nick Stern, chair of Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, praised China for being a global leader in the fight against climate change and for its ambitious goals in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).

Clinton loves to tout her experience. This time she said: "I have sat in the Situation Room and advised the president (Barack Obama) on some of the toughest choices he faced." What she did not say is that she was directly responsible for some of the worst decisions, such as the regime change in Libya in 2011. Libya is in total chaos today and has become a haven for Islamic State terrorists largely because of US intervention. And the IS group is largely a by-product of the US' invasion of Iraq, which Clinton endorsed as a New York senator.

Confrontational and zero-sum mindset harms relations

It is worth noting that China, despite being accused of all sorts of things by US politicians like Clinton, has never done anything even remotely as damaging to peace and stability in a country or region.

Her rhetoric reflects Cold War and zero-sum mentality. She claims Moscow and Beijing are "deeply envious of our alliances around the world, because they have nothing to match them". But she conveniently avoids saying that China by principle is a non-aligned country and the US alliances are a legacy of the Cold War.

A group of scholars at a program in Washington on Wednesday rightly condemned such alliances, saying they had emboldened the US allies to take provocative actions in the belief that Washington would always come to their help regardless of what they have done.

Clinton also claims that if the US doesn't lead the world, there will either be chaos or other countries will rush in to fill the void, and the choices they make will not be to the benefit of the US.

Does she really believe the world will come to an end without US supremacy? Or does that suggest her "presidency" will be one of total US global dominance, leaving no room for the rise of countries such as China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia?

Such mentality is the most likely reason why the US has been engaged in constant wars. Scholars say the US has been at war 93 percent of the time since its founding in 1776. That is literally 222 out of 239 years, meaning the US has been at peace for only 17 years.

It is true that most researchers on China-US relations are worried by the lack of strategic trust between China, a rising power, and the US, the only superpower. But is China to blame for that?

Confrontational speeches by Clinton are well known. But she dived deeper into the rhetoric abyss when she screamed, "countries like Russia and China often work against us". Such rhetoric does not suit someone who aspires to be the US president, especially because she knows full well China is not the villain and which country is. Or, is she trying to reinforce Americans' misunderstanding about China with a definite purpose?

No one knows exactly how the US presidential election will play out, but whoever gets elected in November should do better to abandon the Cold War and zero-sum mentality and pursue a path of win-win cooperation with China.

The author is deputy editor of China Daily USA.

(China Daily 06/18/2016 page5)

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