Western media turn a blind eye to Washington’s belligerence

The Western media spread unblushing falsehoods once again. Shortly before and after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, some of the leading Western editorials contained several outrageous slurs against China. For example, an editorial of The Economist recently lambasted China for being “more isolated, inward looking, … and could become even more belligerently nationalistic”. 

Likewise, the Financial Times has contended that the major reshuffle of China’s top leadership will “entail a stronger military buildup and more assertiveness towards Taiwan. … It will mean more divergence from the West and the US in particular”. Such notions from the Western media dovetail with the idea stated in the Biden administration’s new National Security Strategy that the People’s Republic of China “presents America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge”.

Both the Biden administration and the Western media are obviously indulging in recrimination and misrepresentation. If they were really unbiased and dispassionate, they would not have concluded that China is more hostile to the West and the United States in particular. Reiterating in a congratulatory message to

the National Committee on US-China

Relations last week, President Xi Jinping actually made it clear that “China stands ready to work with the United States to find the right way to get along with each other in the new era, on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation”. If the Western media were really impartial and objective, they would not have argued that China is now more belligerent to Taiwan. In fact, the language of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s work report to the Party Congress on Taiwan is conciliatory, restating the Party’s preference for resolving the Taiwan question peacefully while the forces of history grind inexorably toward the inevitability of reunification and while the use of military force is probably a last resort. If The Economist and the Financial Times really published editorials without favor or fear, they would show their true grit to point out that the US is the real creator of global unrest and chaos.

To be sure, it is not China but the US that is more belligerent and reckless. Prior to the 20th Party Congress of the CPC, the US launched a full-blown economic war on China, imposing sweeping chip-technology export controls against China. In response to Washington’s absurd restrictions, China has showed admirable restraint and refrained from retaliatory measures. In his keynote speech at the Party Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping did not specifically mention the US and its chip curbs, but his message was crystal clear: China must seek self-reliance in key technologies such as chips.

History is likely to record the US efforts to cripple China’s semiconductor sector as the moment when Washington aggression against China came out in the open. The US is now bent on doing everything other than an actual military war to stop China’s rise. If China were not nuclear-armed, Washington would have already threatened to bomb it. The US’ technological decoupling represents real departures from decades of American sensible foreign policy that assumed China’s global integration would be desirable to the world in general, and the US in particular.

The collateral damage caused by Washington’s impetuous move to the global economy cannot be overstated. It is not clear that corporate America, or foreign counterparts, have fully comprehended the dangers of the US chip curbs. It is noteworthy that the new restrictions are not confined to the export of the most advanced American semiconductor chips, but also extend to any high-end ones made with US equipment. This involves dragging almost every non-Chinese-mainland high-end exporter, whether based in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan or the Netherlands, into this high-tech blockage, which could finally boomerang on the US.

The ban also extends to chip executives with American permanent legal status or citizenship who are working in China’s chip industry. It is common knowledge that most of the chip experts and executives around the globe received education and gained work experience in the US. A study of published profiles by listed Chinese firms reveals that dozens of executives in China’s chip industry hold American citizenship. That presents a binary choice between America and China. While there can be no such thing as divided loyalty, these chip executives will certainly find themselves torn between the two great powers.

It is lamentable that the concept of “globalization” or “the world is flat” seems to be a thing of the past. National security is once again the lens through which Washington sees the world. In its efforts to win what US President Joe Biden calls a “contest for the future of our world” with China, the US is increasingly looking to an international network of allies. However, there are also presentational problems facing the US and its allies. While the US and its allies argue that they are banding together to defend “universal” values, underpinning a “liberal international order”, China and its allies instead compellingly present the American aggressive strategy as an attempt to consolidate a hierarchy with its roots in imperialism and white supremacy. Opinion polls in the non-Western world suggest that this Chinese rebuke often finds a receptive audience.

The containment strategy against China will certainly backfire on the US: The more it races to choke off China’s semiconductor sector, the more difficult it will be for the US to get its allies on board. The chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, has recently highlighted his espousal of globalization — of what felt like a disapproval of US chip curbs.

The US is unquestionably guilty of creating global unrest and chaos when it comes to its foreign and economic policy. Sadly, the Western media like the Financial Times and The Economist have turned a blind eye to Washington’s belligerence and aggressiveness while dancing to its China-bashing tune.

The author is a lecturer at the College of Professional and Continuing Education at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and a former Scouloudi fellow at the Institute of Historical Research at London University.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.