The Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey held a reception at the Turkish Embassy in Beijing with the aim of boosting investment cooperation with China. The event, as a part of their “Turkish Century Investment Reception” series, saw more than 500 business people and investors from China’s leading companies to attend.
Turkish Ambassador to China Ismail Hakkı Musa, President of the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Ahmet Burak Daglioglu, and the Silk Road Fund Chairwoman Zhu Jun were also in attendance.
“This year, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey and the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Turkey and China. From e-commerce to telecommunications, from renewable energy to electric vehicles, from cloud technology to the defense industry, we have forged new partnerships with China in a wide range of areas,” the ambassador said.
In addition, the guests sampled sumptuous Turkish cuisine and discussed cooperation and investment opportunities.
Lai Ching-te, deputy leader of the island of Taiwan and the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate for the 2024 regional elections, reportedly plans to stop over in the US on Saturday on his way to Paraguay, a blatant provocative act against China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Lai is scheduled to meet some anti-China politicians during his stopover in the US, and discuss topics including US arms sales to the island, Taiwan media sources reported.
Meanwhile, the White House is actively pursuing arms sales to Taiwan, with the latest military aid package worth $345 million announced to be offered to the island, the Associated Press reported on July 29. Earlier in June, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee claimed to have established a specialized task force to speed up processes of the country’s military sales to its foreign clients including the island of Taiwan.
Setting aside VOA’s lie in a recent Chinese-language article that “the US has been selling its most advanced equipment to Taiwan,” military observers from both sides of Taiwan Straits have revealed to the Global Times that the equipment the US exported to the island of Taiwan are only single pieces of weaponry and a handful of weapon systems at least a generation behind those of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The establishment of the task force named TIGER (Technical, Industrial, and Governmental Engagement for Readiness), as well as the frequent military sales and forms of aid extended to Taiwan, have completely exposed the US’ hypocrisy on the Taiwan question, said experts on military and Taiwan studies from the Chinese mainland.
The US employs multifaceted policies toward the Taiwan Straits, which all serve its own interests in the region, said Ni Yongjie, director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies.
“On one hand, several senior US officials visited the mainland this summer in a hope to ease the relations between Beijing and Washington; on the other hand, the US makes provocations toward China’s bottom line on the Taiwan question,” Ni told the Global Times. “These moves are a part of the Biden administration’s public campaign feeding into next year’s presidential elections.”
In an article published by the Wall Street Journal in early June, Lai hyped an alleged military threat from the mainland and emphasized the supposed need for Taiwan to beef up its so-called military dependences with the aid of the US.
However, what may disappoint Taiwan secessionists like Lai is that evidence has shown the TIGER task force, as well as continued arms sales to the island of Taiwan, are more akin to lip-service that the US pays to the island’s independence forces and a public stunt by the US government against China.
Michael McCaul, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, announced the setup of the TIGER Task Force on June 27.
The bipartisan move was headed by Congressmen Mike Waltz and Seth Moulton. It is built to “modernize US foreign military sales processes in several key areas,” so that it is “responsive to US national security needs and those of our partners and allies,” according a press release published on the committee’s website.
The TIGER task force has never hidden its main goal of completing arms sales to the island of Taiwan. “Our partners, like Taiwan, order American military equipment because they need it,” Moulton said. “They should receive that hardware as quickly as possible.”
According to a VOA Chinese-language article published on June 28, a big reason behind the establishment of TIGER was that many Congressmen were dissatisfied with the US administration’s delay in delivering the weapons that authorities in Taiwan had purchased. “Some of the weapons were even bought as early as 2019.”
The Taiwan DPP authority has bought numerous “weapons-on-paper” with tax payers’ money from the US. It had faced delays in arms shipments from the US of up to $19 billion by 2022, The Defense Post reported in December 2022. Although Tsai Ing-wen is reported to have repeatedly urged US lawmakers to hasten the delivery of the purchased weapons during the latter’s visit to the island, the US simply didn’t keep its cheap promise.
Of a batch of 66 F-16V fighter jets that Tsai authorities purchased in 2020, for instance, two were scheduled to deliver by 2023. But the DDP authority won’t get the two fighter jets this year as the delivery was delayed, said VOA.
Aside from weapon deliveries being delayed, authorities in Taiwan are also far from attaining equipment and technological advantages over the Chinese mainland through weapons bought from the US. “There is a generational gap between weapons the island of Taiwan receives from the US and those used by the PLA,” said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator.
“Moreover, the US has only provided authorities in Taiwan with single pieces of weaponry and a handful of weapon systems, which are not enough to support the latter in building an independent military combat system,” Song told the Global Times.
The US’ frequent delays in weapon delivery has embarrassed the island’s secessionist authorities and enraged tax payers. On Taiwan’s social media platforms, many residents have lampooned the Tsai administration for volunteering to be a cash dispenser for the US.
“The US obtains money [from Tsai authorities] fraudulently. It’s a money game between two crooks,” wrote a netizen who left the message on the island’s media China Times. “The US doesn’t have to keep its promises to its flunkey,” scoffed another netizen.
And the public seldom knows what the TIGER task force has done in the days since it was set up. Its major effort is probably “to hold weekly video conferences” with Tsai authority troops, the China Times reported.
Obviously, TIGER won’t enable separatists on the island to acquire weapons from the US any sooner, considering the US’ scornful attitude toward Taiwan and its own inadequacy in weapon production, said Song.
The establishment of the task force is merely a superficial conciliation of Taiwan authorities by the US, he said.
“Taiwan authorities have no bargaining power in purchasing US weapons, nor do they dare to pursue claims for the delayed or defaulted orders,” Song told the Global Times. “To the US, Tsai authorities are born suckers being taken for a ride.”
TIGER is not the first task force the US has set up to promote its overseas arms sales.
In August 2022, the Pentagon established a similar “Tiger Team” to streamline foreign military sales mechanic, so as to “harness the speed and urgency of US efforts to equip Ukraine,” Defense News quoted Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl as saying in September 2022.
Nonetheless, these hastily formed task forces can hardly change the US’ current delays of weapon deliveries due to long-standing problems in its defense industry.
“The ills are rooted in the US system and labor market issues,” The EurAsian Times also reported in September 2022, mentioning the country’s lengthy contract signing and arms delivery processes, and its labor shortage in the arms industry.
The number of employees working in the US defense industry plummeted by two thirds over the last 40 years, showed a report released by the US National Defense Industrial Association in February.
In 1985, the US had 3 million workers in the defense industry; by 2021, it had 1.1 million workers in the sector, the report said. The US defense ecosystem has suffered a net loss of 17,045 companies in the last five years, it added.
“Key industrial readiness indicators for great power competition are going in the wrong direction,” commented the report.
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is exhausting available weapon stocks in the US and Europe, has brought about new problems for US arms exporters, as manufacturers have to spare more time and resources in sending weapons to Ukraine, observers found.
The conflict has caused numerous delivery delays to US weapon purchasers. “In many cases accelerated delivery is not possible,” stated a report delivered by the US State Department to Congress in April, according to a National Review article in June. While the Pentagon is prioritizing Taiwan arms sales to the fullest extent possible, “limited resources cause ongoing strain,” the report added.
Task forces like TIGER can therefore hardly change the status quo, as Russia-Ukraine tensions keep consuming weapons, and moreover, “it’s difficult to change the US’ current arms sales mechanism,” Song said.
A good excuse
The US House and Senate drafts authorized a record $886 billion in defense spending for the fiscal year 2024. China, frequently seen in various US budget application reports, has long been a good excuse for the US government and military to inflate budgets.
Even members of the TIGER task force repeatedly mention China. Many have found that they, along with some US media sources, together, portray China as the biggest rival to the US military industry.
TIGER’s founding was predicated upon the intention to “better compete with China” and to “counter Chinese influence” in the arms sales sector. In a September 2022 article, The EurAsian Times cited a report by a Washington-based think tank as stating that “China exported conventional weapons worth around $17 billion between 2010 and 2020,” attempting to exaggerate the threat of China’s military industry to its US peers.
They ignore the fact that the US, as the world’s largest arms exporter, earns no less than $45 billion in annual weapon sales.
The sensationalization of China’s military industry threat obviously favors US arms manufacturers and other interested parties, experts said. “By hyping up the threat, the US wants to put increasing pressure on China’s weapon exports, and heighten a sense of crisis among its allies,” said Song.
“The US unscrupulously exports offensive weapons to maximize its economic profit, and even offers its allies [destructive] weapons that can change the situation and balance of forces in a region,” Song told the Global Times.
The arms sales to Taiwan are no more than a card played by anti-China politicians and Taiwan separatist forces, said observers, noting that it enriches US weapon manufacturers while the ordinary people of Taiwan and numerous taxpayers suffer from the dirty deal.
On August 30, 2021, with celebratory fireworks lighting up the Kabul night sky, the US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending its 20-year presence in the country after its October 2001 invasion. Afghanistan has had two years to explore its own path for development. How has the Afghan interim government performed in solving the problems in Afghanistan? And how have China-Afghanistan relations developed? Global Times reporters Liu Xin and Xing Xiaojing (GT) interviewed Zhao Haihan (Zhao), Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan, to get his views on these and other questions, for an exclusive report.
GT: How do you view the performance of the Afghan interim government, which has been in power for two years? How do you feel about being in Afghanistan?
Zhao: Since the establishment of the Afghan interim government two years ago, it has been committed to promoting national peace reconstruction and independent development, actively engaging in foreign exchanges and cooperation, and has taken a series of practical measures in areas such as economic development, corruption eradication, drug prohibition, improvement of people’s livelihoods, and social security, achieving certain results. The international community should give an objective and fair assessment.
The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan staff has been stationed in Kabul. Over the last two years, especially this year, in our daily lives, we can feel that this country is gradually recovering. Economic and social development is slowly improving, prices and exchange rates are stable, and some infrastructure construction and large-scale energy and water projects are actively progressing, with trade with neighboring countries continuously developing.
In the reports by some Western media outlets, Afghanistan seems to be on the verge of economic collapse with starving bodies everywhere. But you will see completely different scenes if you visit major cities in Afghanistan: Daily necessities and supplies are basically available; there is a wide variety of food and vegetables, and the supply of electricity, communication, and fuel is also stable, with social order being well-maintained; the price of the staple food, naan, is less than 10 Afghanis (equivalent to 7 cents yuan), or even cheaper.
It is worth mentioning that the majority of the people and foreign diplomats believe that compared with two years ago, the overall security situation in Afghanistan has seen positive improvements, and people can now freely travel throughout the country, with an increase in foreign tourists. According to the Afghan Foreign Minister, there were about 70,000 foreign tourists visiting Afghanistan, including 10,000 from Europe, in 2022.
Afghanistan still faces many challenges at present. However, let’s not forget that this country has just experienced 20 years of war, is starting from scratch, and is a fragmented state. Its economic development heavily relies on foreign aid, and its per capita GDP has always been the lowest in the world.
The interim government of Afghanistan took over a mess and faced external economic blockades, financial sanctions, asset freezes, and other difficulties. Achieving these development results in just two years and maintaining national unity and overall stability is not easy.
GT: On May 6, during the 5th China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue held in Pakistan, a joint statement was issued, clearly stating that terrorism and terrorist organizations including the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” (ETIM), will not be tolerated. It was also the first time that the Afghan Taliban made a written commitment to not allow the “ETIM” and other forces to engage in terrorist activities. What is the current situation regarding the activities of ETIM members in Afghanistan, and what is the significance of this written commitment by the Afghan Taliban for the promotion of regional counter-terrorism and security cooperation?
Zhao: The “ETIM” is a terrorist organization listed by the United Nations Security Council and recognized by the Chinese government in accordance with the law. The forces of the “ETIM” based in Afghanistan still pose a serious threat to the security of China, Afghanistan, and the region. The “three forces” – terrorism, separatism and extremism, based in Afghanistan are also still major security threats to the region and even the world.
The Afghan interim government’s written commitment to not allow the “ETIM” and other forces to engage in terrorist activities is of great significance for the future development of China-Afghanistan relations and the promotion of regional counter-terrorism and security cooperation. China supports Afghanistan’s efforts to combat all forms of terrorism and violence and maintain national security and stability.
We hope that the Afghan side will effectively fulfill its commitments, take more effective measures, and resolutely combat all terrorist forces, including the “ETIM.”
China calls on the international community to firmly support Afghanistan in combating the “three forces,” support Afghanistan in taking active measures to cut off the financial channels of terrorism and combat the recruitment and cross-border movement of terrorists, and the dissemination of violent and terrorist audiovisual materials, curb extremism, youth radicalization, and the spread of terrorist ideology, and eradicate hidden terrorists and their hiding places.
China will also actively encourage the international community to strengthen bilateral and multilateral counter-terrorism and security cooperation, provide anti-terrorism materials, equipment, and technical assistance to Afghanistan, support Afghanistan in implementing comprehensive counterterrorism measures, address both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism, and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven, breeding ground, and source of terrorism again. GT: China has always emphasized its support for peace, development, and a political solution to the Afghan issue. Could you please introduce China’s specific measures and future plans in assisting Afghanistan?
Zhao: The friendly bilateral cooperation between China and Afghanistan has always been a key factor in China’s unique role in the Afghan issue. The Afghan government and society have widely recognized that China is the only major country and neighboring country in history that has never bullied Afghanistan, and China has always pursued cooperation, assistance, and friendship with Afghanistan.
In the last two years, in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis, China has provided timely humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, including the provision of vaccines, medicines, and winter supplies, totaling 300 million yuan. In March 2022, China also provided 1 billion yuan in unconditional assistance to Afghanistan for humanitarian, educational, medical, and rural construction projects.
China has also provided a large amount of assistance to Afghanistan in the form of food, emergency supplies, earthquake relief, and through other means using channels such as the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, the Red Cross, local governments, and civil society, helping the Afghan people to cope with various crises.
At the same time, China’s assistance projects in Afghanistan, such as the building of Kabul University, vocational and technical education colleges, low-cost housing, and a hospital, have been successfully handed over or are about to resume construction. Personnel training and student exchange programs are also progressing in an orderly manner, cultivating a large number of talents in various fields in Afghanistan.
In terms of economic and trade cooperation, we have opened the “Pine Nuts Air Corridor,” granting Afghanistan 98 percent tariff-free treatment for products, restoring direct flights between China and Afghanistan, and promoting practical cooperation in major projects.
Currently, China and Afghanistan are actively exploring enhanced connectivity construction under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and negotiating to promote the export of more Afghan specialty agricultural products such as pomegranates, almonds, and apricots to China. All these practical measures are being taken to support the Afghan people’s economic development, income generation, and improvement of livelihoods through concrete actions.
GT: The Global Times launched a petition in February 2022 calling for the unconditional return of life-saving money to the Afghan people by the US, which has received a lot of attention. How do you view the Chinese public’s concern for the livelihood of the Afghan people? How do you think China and Afghanistan can further strengthen people-to-people exchanges and promote friendly cooperation?
Zhao: China and Afghanistan are traditional friendly neighbors, and the ancient Silk Road has closely connected the people of the two countries, with a long history of friendly exchanges. Both China and Afghanistan believe in the cultural concept of “a close neighbor is better than a distant relative” and have a fine tradition of mutual assistance.
Since significant changes have occurred in Afghanistan, the safety and wellbeing of the Afghan people have always concerned the Chinese people. Having grown and risen from hardship, the Chinese people deeply empathize with the suffering of the Afghan people and have always provided assistance and steadfast support in various ways to help them overcome their hardships. This is a continuation of the traditional spirit of solidarity and cooperation between the two peoples and a reflection of Chinese people’s pursuit of justice and the well-being of the world.
The relationship between countries lies in the affinity between their people. Today, with the overall situation in Afghanistan transitioning from chaos to stability and the complete dispersal of the shadow of the COVID-19 epidemic, people-to-people exchanges between China and Afghanistan are ushering in new opportunities.
China will continue to uphold the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness in its neighborhood diplomacy, and carry out more pragmatic cooperation with Afghanistan in various fields. Together with the Afghan people, China will continuously consolidate the foundation of popular support for friendly relations between the two countries and work hand in hand to build a China-Afghanistan community of shared future.
GT: Can you give more examples of the close and friendly cooperation between China and Afghanistan?
Zhao: The friendly cooperation between China and Afghanistan is reflected in various aspects, for example, in the smooth communication and cooperation between our foreign ministries.
I remember one time when we wanted to have face-to-face exchanges with senior officials from various departments of the Afghan interim government regarding some cooperation issues. After receiving our request, the Afghan side quickly arranged for our ambassador to Afghanistan to meet with the acting prime minister and six cabinet ministers within a week. All the protocol arrangements were seamless, efficient, and smooth. Some foreign embassy colleagues heard about this and couldn’t help but admire that only Chinese diplomats could receive such treatment.
Furthermore, the Afghan people have great enthusiasm for learning Chinese. We often encounter fluent Chinese speakers among the Afghan people at airports and other public places. This includes not only students from Confucius Institutes and those who have studied in China, but also many ordinary people who have self-studied Chinese and hope to engage in trade and tourism in China in the future.
GT: At the Central Asia Summit in May, Chinese leaders emphasized the role of platforms such as the Afghanistan Neighboring Countries Coordination Mechanism in promoting Afghanistan’s path to reconstruction. In terms of promoting peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, what specific diplomatic efforts and cooperation methods will China adopt?
Zhao: As a close neighbor and sincere friend to Afghanistan, China hopes for peace and stability in Afghanistan more than any other country. China has built platforms, created conditions, and contributed Chinese wisdom and solutions to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, earning unanimous praise from the Afghan people and the international community.
Especially after significant changes in the Afghan situation, China advocated for the establishment of the Afghanistan neighboring countries coordination mechanism, leveraging the advantages of neighboring countries to consolidate regional consensus and cooperation, and played a constructive role in ensuring a smooth transition in the Afghan situation.
Currently, Afghanistan is at a critical juncture of transitioning from chaos to stability, with challenges and opportunities, and difficulties and hopes all coexisting. As a builder of world peace, contributor to global development, preserver of international order, and a friendly neighbor to Afghanistan, China will continue to provide assistance within its capabilities for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.
China will fulfill its aid commitments to Afghanistan, steadily promote economic and trade investment cooperation, actively engage in cooperation in areas such as healthcare, poverty alleviation, agriculture, and disaster prevention and reduction, deepen cooperation in jointly building the BRI, support Afghanistan in leveraging its geographical advantages to integrate into regional economic cooperation and connectivity, transform from a landlocked country to a land-linked country, and help Afghanistan emerge from the shadows of war and regain its ancient Silk Road glory.
At the same time, we will continue to uphold justice and advocate for the Afghan people in the international community, urging relevant countries, as the initiators of the Afghan issue, to learn from their mistakes, face the severe humanitarian, economic, and security risks and challenges in Afghanistan, immediately lift sanctions on Afghanistan, return Afghan overseas assets, and fulfill their commitments to humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
GT: What are your expectations for the future of Afghanistan?
Zhao: Afghanistan is a brilliant pearl on the ancient Silk Road, which has created a splendid and glorious culture and made unique contributions to the exchanges and mutual learning of different civilizations between the East and the West, as well as the progress and development of human civilization.
However, due to its important geographical location, known as the “heart of Asia,” it has always been a strategic place for the great powers to compete, and its fate has been tumultuous. For a long time, Afghanistan has suffered from the ravages of war and turmoil, and its people have experienced hardships, causing this pearl to be repeatedly covered in dust.
Afghan people are diligent and kind, just like we the Chinese, and they are constantly striving for self-improvement. Afghans often mention that they have defeated three superpowers in a hundred years, which makes its nickname, the graveyard of empires, well deserved.
Nowadays, with the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Afghan people have ushered in an opportunity to truly control their own destiny and enter into a new era of independence, peace, and development.
In our contacts with Afghan officials, we can clearly feel their strong sense of national pride and their desire to change the fate of their country through development. They often say that today’s Afghanistan is very similar to the new China of more than 70 years ago. They have driven away foreign aggressors and opened a new chapter in national construction.
However, there is still much to be done, and the road ahead is long. They lack experience and capabilities, so they strongly hope to deepen cooperation with China, their thousand-year neighbor, learn from China’s governance experience, and achieve lasting peace and prosperity with China’s help.
As an unwavering friendly neighbor, China will continue to support Afghanistan’s independent and self-reliant development and make positive contributions to its prosperity and the promotion of regional peace and stability.
If the interim government of Afghanistan can seize the opportunity, further open up and engage in inclusive governance, pursue moderate and stable policies, and actively explore a modern development model that suits the Afghan national conditions, it is entirely possible to lead the Afghan people onto the path of peaceful reconstruction and prosperous development. I personally have confidence in this.
Editor’s Note: Some observers believe that China-UK relations are at its lowest point, but Alistair Michie, secretary general of the British East Asia Council and winner of the Chinese Friendship Award Medal in 2013, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview that he does not agree with this assessment. Instead, it would be highly desirable for all nations to have golden eras of understanding with China, Michie said, noting that one of the key issues is that a significant number of UK politicians are heavily influenced by the US. He also said that the UK should consider joining the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as other initiatives that can move both countries in a more positive direction. Global Times reporters Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi (GT) talked with Michie to get his insightful opinions on China-UK relations, the BRI and more.
GT: The Chinese version of the book Consensus or Conflict? China and Globalization in the 21st Century co-edited by you has been published recently and distributed in China. Could you tell us why you wanted to compile such a book? What feedback have you received?
Michie: I was motivated to do the book in 2020. What I felt was that at that time, there was an opportunity for the world to gather together and deal with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the same way that the world dealt with the global financial crisis in 2008. Back in 2008, the G20 played a particularly crucial role in stabilizing what was a very serious global financial crisis. The way the economic crisis unfolded in 2008 posed extreme danger for the world. So, at the start of 2020, I hoped that the world and nations would gather together in a way that could lead to the development of solutions, where the world would unite toward a common destiny.
I was also greatly influenced by the Chinese leader’s repeated calls over many years for the world to move forward with mutual understanding and mutual respect toward a community of common destiny. I believed that the only way to effectively and efficiently address global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, was through collective action and a shared purpose.
This motivation laid the foundations for the book. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to gather over 30 distinguished writers from around the world, who provided their perspectives on why it is crucial for the world to address issues like pandemics through consensus rather than conflict in terms of global matters. This served as the motivation and genesis of the book.
Regarding the feedback, I was particularly pleased that we gathered 10 recommendations from distinguished global leaders, printed in the front of the book. They emphasized the importance of reading this book as it promotes consensus over conflict. These high-level individuals from around the world recognized the crucial theme and message of the book. However, the outcome has been disappointing. Since the English version was published in September 2021, the world has significantly shifted toward conflict and away from consensus.
GT: Are you disappointed with the direction in which the world is progressing?
Michie: I am deeply frustrated because, since publishing the book with hopes of achieving consensus, the world has instead been steadily moving toward conflict. This is a critical issue for humanity, as there are numerous threats such as climate change, future pandemics, nuclear concerns, challenges in biosciences, and artificial intelligence. These issues require nations to act together in the interest of all humanity, but unfortunately, consensus is lacking. The lack of cooperation is deeply concerning as it can lead to misunderstandings, miscalculations, and catastrophic conflicts. It is a dangerous world. While I find some satisfaction in expressing these views and highlighting the dangers, I am still deeply frustrated by the world’s trajectory toward conflict rather than consensus.
By nature, I have always been positive that humanity will find a solution. However, it is also crucial to be realistic. One issue I addressed in my book is the communication crisis our world is facing. Different nations struggle to explain their perspectives, largely due to the fact that we think differently. For instance, China, with nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, has a distinct way of thinking compared to America and Europe.
Therefore, the lack of effective communication is causing a crisis in understanding different perspectives and points of view.
GT: Not long ago, you mentioned that there are many Americans who have closed their minds and turned a blind eye to significant global changes, which is “extremely dangerous” for the world. What specific “significant global changes” do you mean? Could you elaborate on the potential dangers it poses to the world if Americans turned a blind eye to these changes?
Michie: One of the major dangers that the world faces is the way many Americans are thinking today. The US holds a very dominant position in global governance despite only representing 4 percent of the world’s population. This massive influence held by a small number of people is frustrating for the rest of the world. Additionally, it is also frustrating that many Americans tend to look inward.
For example, many Americans do not accept that there is a threat and danger from climate change. They are not actively dealing with other serious global threats like nuclear issues, artificial intelligence, or biosciences. This turning inward is extremely dangerous because these are issues that affect all humanity and the world.
Additionally, we have a situation where the US political system is deeply fractured, and this creates great dangers for the world going forward.
GT: UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly recently paid a visit to China and he said that it would not be “credible” to disengage with China. However, the British parliament referred to Taiwan as an “independent country” in an official document for the first time, coinciding with Cleverly’s visit. What’s your perspective on it? In recent years, the UK’s attitude toward China has undergone major changes. What do you think are the reasons behind this?
Michie: I think what we need to do is to be very careful about making statements that can cause anger between countries like this one. As I mentioned earlier, we are currently facing a communication crisis, and what we truly need is more dialogue and discussion to foster an intelligent conversation among nations. Fortunately, there are many people in the UK who are working toward creating that environment. However, there are also individuals in the UK who are not interested in engaging in an intelligent dialogue; they have their own agendas.
One of the issues we face is that a significant number of UK politicians are heavily influenced by the US, which aims to hinder China’s progress. On the other hand, there are US politicians who are also striving to build an intelligent dialogue. Nonetheless, this situation is extremely dangerous, particularly given the current communication crisis and social media. It is so easy to have many comments that can be misunderstood and create conflicts and misunderstandings on social media. Therefore, it is crucial to engage in as much dialogue as possible to foster an intelligent conversation among nations.
GT: Do you think the current UK policy toward China is too influenced by Washington?
Michie: I believe that one of the root problems is that the US still wishes to be the hegemonic leader of the world, despite comprising only 4 percent of the global population. It has convinced itself that this is the right path to follow. However, due to many Americans focusing inward and ignoring critical global issues such as climate change and other threats, a significant problem arises for the world.
GT: Some observers have said that China-UK relations are at the lowest point. Do you agree with this? Do you think the bilateral relations can get back to a golden era?
Michie: No, I don’t think we’re at the lowest point at all because one of the most important trends in the last two decades is the tens of thousands of Chinese students who have come to the UK to study. I think that we rank second or third in the world in terms of attracting Chinese nationals to come and study in our education system. That is the kind of foundation-laying for intelligent dialogue that I have argued is so important in creating the kind of understanding that will lead to consensus.
I am very hopeful that this student exchange will help to create a more peaceful and sustainable world in the future.
It would be highly desirable for all nations to have golden eras of understanding with China. Unfortunately, at the moment, we are not moving in that direction, but we must do everything in our power to engage in intelligent dialogue and create understanding, so that we can move toward what you describe as a golden era of relationships. This will enable us to address the significant challenges facing humanity.
GT: Many Western politicians have recently been talking about so-called decoupling from China. What’s your take on it? Is it possible for the West to decouple from China?
Michie: I believe that decoupling and de-risking are not the right direction. What we must do is focus much more on creating an intelligent dialogue so that we can understand each other better and avoid moving toward conflict. It is absolutely crucial to move away from de-risking and decoupling, as I argue that the fundamental need is to create a much deeper and better understanding. The only way we can solve the crises facing all of humanity is by coming together in consensus and creating mutual understanding and respect, in order to move toward a community of common destiny. That is the only way, but it poses a huge challenge for the world.
GT: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). How do you view the development of the BRI over the past decade and its future prospects?
Michie: I think the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a hugely important initiative by China because it serves as a channel for creating human connection. Communication can take various forms, such as infrastructure development including roads, airports, and harbors, which facilitate the exchange of ideas and foster understanding. This initiative also promotes intelligent dialogue, and China possesses the expertise to extend these infrastructure developments worldwide.
So, I believe it is a hugely important contribution toward improving global governance. At the moment, global governance faces a challenge as it is dominated by just 14 percent of the global population, which includes 4 percent in the US and under 10 percent in Europe. It is understandable that the rest of the world becomes frustrated when such a small percentage of the world’s population holds such a dominant influence. Initiatives like the BRI are a way of striving toward creating a broader form of global governance that can lead us toward international consensus.
I hope that the BRI will continue to evolve, fostering exchanges and understanding that can truly guide us toward a more peaceful and sustainable world.
GT: Do you think that the UK should consider joining the BRI?
Michie: I believe that everything should be considered in any way forward that we can create in dialogue and understanding, in order to create a world that is moving toward a common destiny. We can only solve the incredibly serious and dangerous challenges that the world faces if we move toward consensus. Initiatives like the BRI should be considered, as well as anything that can move us in a more positive direction.
The “Cognitive warfare” has become a new form of confrontation between states, and a new security threat. With new technological means, it sets issues and spreads disinformation so as to change people’s perceptions and thus alter their self-identity. Launching cognitive warfare against China is an important means for Western anti-China forces to attack and discredit the country. Under the manipulation of the US-led West, the “China threat theory” has continued to ferment. Some politicians and media outlets have publicly smearing China’s image by propagating the tones like “China’s economy collapse theory” and “China’s virus threat theory,” in an attempt to incite and provoke dissatisfaction of people in some countries with China. These means all serve the peaceful evolution strategy of the US to contain China’s rise and to maintain its hegemony.
The Global Times is publishing a series of articles to systematically reveal the intrigues of the US-led West’s cognitive warfare targeting China, expose its lies and vicious intentions, in an attempt to show international readers a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic view of China.
This is the first installment in the series.
Anyone who has been to Lujiazui is likely to be charmed by its dense skyscrapers and bustling roads. The area offers a gorgeous view of the illuminated night skyline and reflects the dreams of people who are striving for a better life.
The Lujiazui Financial City in downtown Shanghai, a famous Chinese financial hub that is home to more than 6,000 Chinese and foreign financial institutions and the location of over 140 transnational corporations’ regional headquarters, was recently portrayed as run-down as part of reporting to expose the alleged “deep trouble” in which the Chinese economy finds itself, by US media.
With a couple of photos showing the “empty” streets and shops of Lujiazui, which were obviously taken from certain selective angles, a few US media outlets and opinion leaders absurdly stated that Shanghai – a metropolis of 25 million people – is a “ghost town.” Furthermore, they claimed that “China is in trouble.”
This absurd smear is just the latest example of the cognitive and psychological warfare launched by the US-led West against China, which intends to defame the Chinese financial market and the country’s international image with vicious labels and ridiculous lies, noted observers reached by the Global Times.
But the fact that China’s economy is thriving and moving forward vigorously serves as the most powerful refutation against them, they said.
A blatant trickery
US media outlet Newsweek published a story complete with a sensationalized headline on September 9, suggesting that Shanghai had been transformed into “a ghost town.”
The story quoted a misleading tweet by a self-claimed US writer Michael Yon, who posted three pictures that seemingly show empty streets, an empty café, and a footbridge with only five pedestrians in Lujiazui. In the September 4 post, Yon said the photos were taken on a Monday, and the “empty” and “quiet” Lujiazui depicted in the photos signals that the Chinese economy is in “deep trouble.”
The form of blatant trickery employed by Newsweek and the tweet’s author can be easily exposed by anyone who has actually been there. A Global Times reporter has since visited the exact same locations where the three photos were taken, and found that Yon’s empty-street photo, for instance, was taken near a road blocked off for maintenance works.
The café showed in the photo was also filled with customers when the Global Times reporter arrived there on a weekday afternoon.
Nancy (pseudonym), a Shanghai resident who works at a trading company in Lujiazui, is a regular customer at the café. She ventured that Yon’s empty-café photo was most likely taken in the early morning, when most customers, including her, prefer to place takeaway orders.
“We Lujiazui white-collar workers have very busy meeting-filled mornings. Who has time to sit in the café and enjoy their coffee then?” she asked rhetorically.
As for the empty-footbridge photo, Nancy said the footbridge is not the only pedestrian footpath access in Lujiazui, and workers at local companies usually choose more convenient underground access paths, especially on hot summer days. The footbridge is usually very crowded at weekends, flooded with people who want to enjoy the beautiful city view, she added.
“It’s not easy to get the ’empty’ photos of Lujiazui. They had to have picked a certain time and find special angles,” Nancy commented. “They must have put a lot of effort into discrediting the city.”
The three photos have led to widespread criticism on X (formerly known as Twitter). Ben Adegoriola, who introduced himself as a Nigerian living in China, posted a video of a lively Chinese city under the photos. “This was last weekend,” he wrote. “All these West-paid propagandists can write anything to defame China’s rising glory.”
As a main business hub in Shanghai, Lujiazui is always bustling with people, said Shanghai-based economist Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. The “empty” photos deliberately taken from certain angles do not show the real Lujiazui, he said.
“Newsweek’s ‘ghost town’ story’s coverage of China is undoubtedly hostile,” Xi told the Global Times. “By distorting the image of Shanghai, it intends to make this international financial center less attractive to global investors.”
Apart from Lujiazui, some suburban areas in Shanghai have also been the targets of the Western media’s “ghost town” slander. They call the Thames Town in suburban Songjiang district a deserted, decaying “ghost town,” turning a blind eye to the fact that Thames Town has become a popular local destination for the weekend, as well as a famous industrial park for cultural and creative companies.
The increasing house prices in Thames Town prove its popularity. The town’s average house price is 77,013 yuan ($10,553) per square meter as of September, a 13.18-percent increase from August rates, showed real estate information platform zhuge.com.
Chinese experts believe that the cognitive warfare waged by some US media outlets and think tanks against Shanghai won’t make much different, as ridiculous lies are unlikely to weaken Shanghai’s attractiveness to global investors.
“The situation in Shanghai is generally optimistic this year. We are continuing a robust post-pandemic recovery,” said Xi.
Similar media reports calling Chinese cities “ghost towns” have become more frequent in recent months. Cities like Kunming, the capital of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and Changzhou in East China’s Jiangsu Province, have also involved in this kind of disinformation campaign, the Global Times found.
The “ghost town” narrative is a typical part of the US media’s cognitive warfare against China, which tries to influence international audience’s perception of China and its cities by portraying the latter as deserted, unpopular, and unpromising places.
Looking back through the first nine months of this year, observant eyes may find that some US media outlets and think tanks have launched several rounds of cognitive warfare against China.
According to data provided by online media monitoring platform Meltwater, so far this year, dozens of mainstream US media outlets and think tanks have published some 114,000 China-related articles. Among them, the numbers of the articles containing neutral, positive, and negative sentiments respectively are 71,700, 19,500, and 23,100, accounting for 62.7 percent, 17 percent, and 20.2 percent.
The most frequently mentioned words in the articles with negative sentiments include “economy,” “markets,” “investors,” “interest rates,” and “yuan,” showed Meltwater figures. That suggests the Chinese economy and Chinese financial market are the most covered topics by US media outlets and opinion leaders, as well as their main targets of vilification.
In the middle of each month, the National Bureau of Statistics of China releases key Chinese economic data for the previous month. Interestingly, Meltwater’s curve graph shows that the middle of almost every month happens to be a month peak in the number of China-related stories containing negative sentiments. China’s monthly economic data has seemingly become a good opportunity for naysayers, who may comb through the data report to pick out any points they believe are “pessimistic,” and hype them up with eye-grabbing headlines, such as claiming China’s reopening trade after the pandemic “is fizzling out,” and lambasting the Chinese economy with sensational sentences like “investors start to fret China.”
Badmouthing the Chinese economy is a trick used by the US Federal Reserve to drive global private capital back to the US, said economic analyst Tian Yun. “In order to suppress China, the US is resorting to extreme measures,” Tian told the Global Times.
Apart from attacking the Chinese economy, in the first nine months of 2023, the US’ China-related media coverage with negative sentiment also focused on topics including the pandemic, China’s population, China’s role in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the “debt trap” narrative, and the “spy balloon” allegations, according to Meltwater statistics.
Chinese experts said that most of the topics are nothing new to the readers, merely defamation cliches by the US against China from its economic performance to its international image.
“Through the various rounds of cognitive warfare, the US attempts to labeling China as a hopeless and disruptive bully, and a threat to the current international order,” a Shanghai-based scholar in American Studies told the Global Times.
The “debt trap” rumor that targets the BRI is a typical disinformation campaign by the US-led West to sow suspicion in China’s cooperation with other countries, the scholar exampled. “All these accusations and slanders serve the US’ strategic goal of curbing the expansion of China’s geopolitical and geo-economic influences,” he told the Global Times.
Ironically, behind this “ambitious goal” are usually clumsy tricks attempted by US media outlets and think tanks that make their smear campaign against China less than unconvincing. Audiences have found that much of this China-related coverage cites disreputable sources, who, most of the time simply, drops a bombshell without giving any solid evidence to prove its authenticity.
A fresh round of rumors hyped up by US media sources early this year that accused Chinese companies of “selling Russia weapons” is a typical example. An NBC article on February 19 said, “China may be providing non-lethal military assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine,” by citing “four US officials familiar with the matter” and “sources familiar with the matter.” The Global Times later proved the accusation to be completely groundless.
The so-called “military aid” being transported from Central China’s Henan Province to Moscow in late 2022 was in fact some ordinary commodities including clothes that Russian importers purchased from China.
Some US media outlets also like to bolster false narratives with misleading photos that far from reflect the truth. Like Newsweek’s “ghost town” story and the “empty Lujiazui” photos it cited, such stories are filled with laughably ridiculous lies that may only fool those who are blind, deaf, or mentally impaired, said observers.
These clumsy cognitive warfare tricks will not hurt China, but do harm the credibility and reputation of US media outlets and think tanks, said the Shanghai-based scholar.
“China and Shanghai are open, and it’s easy for the world to get the truth,” he said. “The fact that China is moving forward to higher level of development will punch rumormongers in their faces.”
President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, presented an ambitious vision for Kazakhstan’s technological future and advanced the deadline for the introduction of the 5G network from 2027 to 2025 during his speech at the recently concluded Digital Bridge 2023 forum in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Chinese technology companies are welcomed and expected to actively participate in the blueprint designed to support Kazakhstan in its journey to become a regional digital hub.
Tokayev emphasized the need to attract international players to the country’s venture market, leveraging their expertise and project quality assessment, as Kazakhstan is poised to enter a new era of connectivity and technological advancement with its ambitious plans for the accelerated launch of 5G wireless services.
As tech companies that actively support the construction of Kazakhstan’s digital economy, Chinese tech giant Huawei and TikTok, the popular short-video content app owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, have attracted much attention at the forum.
Bagdat Mussin, the Kazakhstani Minister of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry told the Global Times that the country trusts the quality and safety of Chinese technology. In front of Huawei’s booth at the two-day forum, many guests gathered around the display case of its digital communications equipment and all-scenario products hoping to learn how the company’s technology could further help boost local 5G networks.
As Central Asia’s largest IT forum, the Digital Bridge this year brought together over 20,000 participants, including representatives from more than 300 IT companies and delegations from 30 countries, far exceeding previous years’ participation. This strong turnout demonstrates Kazakhstan’s leading position as a digital and fintech hub in Eurasia.
President Tokayev cited expert estimates which indicate that the potential contribution of AI to the global economy is comparable to a quarter of global GDP.
In the last decade, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China, as Kazakhstan’s neighbor, has shared its digital experience with Kazakhstan, where the Silk Road Economic Belt was first initiated, in becoming the digital center of Central Asia. China has also achieved more practical results in areas such as 5G, big data, cross-border e-commerce, and artificial intelligence.
Huawei, a prominent supplier of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, has backed Kazakhstan’s national initiatives and its 2050 Strategy in order to position the country as a digital center in the region. This support involves introducing innovative technologies, implementing best practices, and exchanging knowledge in areas such as intelligent cloud networks, 5G, and storage technologies.
The company has been serving the ICT industry in Kazakhstan since 1998 following the “in Kazakhstan, for Kazakhstan” vision.
The Global Times learned from Huawei that it is a strategic partner to all telecom operators in Kazakhstan, serving a population of over 18 million.
On June 1, 2023, Huawei and Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Digital Development jointly released the Digital Hub White Paper, which explores how to make Kazakhstan a digital hub in the Eurasian region. This includes the construction of connectivity hubs, cloud hubs, ICT talent hubs, and ecosystem hubs, opening up a new future for Kazakhstan’s digital economy.
The arbitrary bans imposed by some countries of Huawei’s technology have not shaken the Kazakhstani government’s trust in Chinese technology. In a press conference on October 13, Bagdat Mussin, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Digital Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry, told the Global Times that Kazakhstan welcomes Huawei and that approximately 200 educational centers in local universities have been set up to promote Huawei’s technology to the young generation.
Mussin stressed the reliability and safety of Chinese technology while noting that Huawei’s technology is included in the implementation phase of Kazakhstan’s 5G network building. He said that the country has followed the strict examination and certification processes necessary for the use of such tech to be used in the country.
Alina Abdrakhmanova, the managing director of the Astana Hub, the organizer of the forum, told the Global Times that Huawei has been a long-term partner to their technological research centers, and underscored that Huawei is establishing more infrastructure to ease access for local startups.
Huawei Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed an MOU at the International 2022 Digital Bridge Forum to cooperate with Kazakhstan’s leading universities and educational organizations to open the Huawei ICT Academy, providing more than 3,000 students with ICT-related information and courses.
During a visit to China in mid-May, President Tokayev held a meeting with Huawei Chairman Liang Hua, and welcomed the implementation of the project aimed at training highly skilled Kazakhstani specialists in the IT sphere at the Huawei ICT Academy. The president also supported Huawei’s initiatives for cultivating ICT talent in Kazakhstan and nurturing local talent, as reported by media sources.
This year, Huawei Technologies and the national Kazakhstan Temir Zholy company signed a letter of intent on the digitalization of the railway network in Kazakhstan using new technologies. On the sidelines of the Digital Bridge forum, President Tokayev held a productive meeting with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, with a focus on strengthening the partnership between Kazakhstan and the popular social media platform.
Chew also delivered a keynote address at the plenary session, saying that TikTok has been accessible in Kazakh starting from this year.
He emphasized that the mission of TikTok is to “inspire creativity and bring people joy,” and amid the rapid development of AI, the mission will remain the same.
“More than 1 billion people from 150 countries can express themselves, and with TikTok, one can explore the world. This is a kind of canvas where you can paint anything and a bridge that unites communities all around the world,” he said.
The US-led political witch hunt against TikTok hasn’t stopped the app’s rise in popularity in Kazakhstan as it has attracted over 10 million registered users in the country.
Chew discussed the TikTok StartUp Academy project, an exclusive educational program for Kazakhstani startups launched in collaboration with the Astana Hub International Technopark of IT Startups. As part of this collaboration, the TikTok Startup Valley competition has provided training to over 200 startups on leveraging TikTok for product promotion.
Foreign investors gathered at round tables at the forum to discuss global challenges related to the digital area such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and Big Data.
The Global Times also truly experienced the digitization of the city – ranging from the convenience of calling a car online within five minutes from one’s own residence to the adoption of cashless payments, from intelligent ticket purchase system of tourist attraction to the AI technology at forum venues. All of these seem to indicate that this young city is actively pursuing a more interconnected path, to create a citizen-friendly digital ecosystem.
The forum, which spans two days, offers a wide range of activities and attractions, such as more than 30 panel discussions featuring speakers from around the world, as well as special events. This showcases Kazakhstan’s dedication to innovation, digital transformation, and the integration of technology with human progress.
Coming amid the third China-Central Eastern European Countries Culture and Arts Carnival, traditional dances from all over Greece, such as ipirotikos, tsamiko, kalamatiano, sirtaki and ikariotiko, were performed on October 22 in Chaoyang Park, Beijing, by the Cultural Association “Peiros” dance troop from the municipality of Western Achaia.
The performance was aimed at preserving and transmitting cultural traditions and various aspects of Greek cultural heritage from generation to generation.
Along with the performances, videos showcased the beauty of Western Peloponnese, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and informational materials were made available.
The eight-member dance group of the cultural association “Peiros” performed in Beijing as part of the third China-Central Eastern European Countries Culture and Arts Carnival, hosted by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Chaoyang District People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, and organized by the Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchange Center, Chaoyang District Bureau of Culture and Tourism of Beijing Municipality.
Despite US President Joe Biden’s well-calculated absence from the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings held in Jakarta, Indonesia, some US media outlets wasted no chance to push for US agendas in the region.
On Thursday, VOA Chinese published an article entitled “China showing off its map before ASEAN Summit forces ASEAN and India to get closer.” The article cited so-called observers and claimed that China’s deliberate issue of a controversial new edition of the national map would enhance security and economic ties between India and ASEAN.
Some Chinese analysts reached by the Global Times believe that the US media intentionally stirred up tensions by exploiting the ASEAN Summit and China’s launch of the new map. On August 28, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources released the 2023 edition of the standard national map. China’s claims haven’t changed, and its stance on the South China Sea issue with certain ASEAN member states has been consistent, which is “putting aside disputes and seeking joint development.” It makes no sense to claim that China’s new map is a timed move to provoke ASEAN or other South China Sea claimants.
Nonetheless, the US media took it as a chance to link the issue with the ASEAN Summit, in a bid to stir up the currently peaceful South China Sea situation and incite regional countries to provoke and take a tough stance against China. This was done with the intention of pulling ASEAN into the orbit of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain China.
Ma Bo, an associate professor at the School of International Studies and the assistant director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies at Nanjing University, told the Global Times that this is not the first time that the US has taken advantage of regional summits to bring up the South China Sea issue and exploit the disputes between China and its neighboring countries to worsen China’s development environment.
Prior to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in July, the US began to smear China’s law-enforcement activities, which were aimed at safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime order, after Philippine coast guard vessels intruded into the waters off the Ren’ai Reef without Chinese permission on June 30. During the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed unity with Southeast Asian nations against “coercion,” in a thinly veiled reference to China. Nonetheless, ASEAN nations maintained a lukewarm attitude.
What ASEAN countries are dissatisfied with the most is the constant absence of US presidents at ASEAN summits, be it Biden or former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama. This time, Biden has skipped Indonesia but will visit Vietnam. “This will make ASEAN believe that the US is actually dividing ASEAN and viewing the Philippines and Vietnam as its agents to contain China,” said Ma.
While the US hopes to woo any country possible to achieve this goal, India could be an easy pick. The US often touts its relations with India, and India is a member of the US-led Quad. But will India have the US’ wish fulfilled?
Long Xingchun, a professor at the School of International Relations at Sichuan International Studies University and president of the Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, told the Global Times that compared to China, ASEAN’s economic cooperation with India is very limited in scale, so is India’s influence on ASEAN. India has even withdrawn from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which ASEAN has high hopes for. Long added that ASEAN has taken a negative and even opposing attitude toward Quad, as it believes Quad will not only divide Asia and create confrontation, but also weaken the ASEAN centrality during the process of East Asian integration.
The US media reports are filled with vicious calculations aimed at making countries in the Indo-Pacific region cannon fodder of the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy. The US has long been trying to involve these countries in its agenda, and it continues to do so by exploiting various opportunities. This shows that the US’ previous efforts were not successful. The fundamental reason is that the US only considers its own interests without taking into account the interests of regional countries and their pursuit of strategic autonomy. There is a huge misalignment or even contradiction between US’ goals and the interests of these countries.
US President Joe Biden said at a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sunday after upgrading the US-Vietnam relationship, “I don’t want to contain China. I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up squared away.” He added, “I am sincere about getting the relationship right.”
Ma Bo, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at Nanjing University, believes that this is Biden’s tailored strategy toward China.
The “China threat” theory peddled by the US and its attempt to win over regional countries to contain China are not supported by these countries. ASEAN countries are unwilling to choose sides between China and the US, but they hope that both sides can manage differences and maintain regional peace and stability. Against this backdrop, Biden realized that it would be better for him to emphasize “the US does not want to contain China” when he was there. His target audience was not only China, but also ASEAN countries, so as to establish a positive image of the US. But once he goes to Europe, Japan or South Korea, he will make no reservation to label China as a threat.
“Be it in technology or trade, the US has not eased its containment of China. The US wants to leave an impression on the region that it does not want to contain China, which is hypocritical,” Ma told the Global Times.
For Vietnam, being involved in great power competition is not in its interests. Even if the relationship between the US and Vietnam upgrades, Vietnam will continue to adopt a balanced strategy. Vietnam does not trust the US and is worried about the US’ interference in its political system. Meanwhile, the US has limited support for Vietnam’s security, and Vietnam still needs to purchase weapons from Russia.
Wang Jiangyu, a professor at the City University of Hong Kong School of Law, told the Global Times that in the eyes of the US, Vietnam is an ideological rival, but now the US is courting Vietnam with a realist attitude because it believes that Vietnam could be part of its efforts to set up a global united front against China. Wang said this is the logic behind the upgraded ties between the US and Vietnam.
Since taking office, the Biden administration on the one hand boasts of “guardrails” in China-US relations, but on the other hand hypes up “decoupling” and the so-called de-risking. Now it talks about “not containing China” and “getting the relationship right.” It can be seen that the China policy within the Biden administration is messy and divisive.
Wang told the Global Times the current China-US relations make the US feel a sense of uncertainty, and such a sense of uncertainty does not help the US craft and implement its China policy, therefore the US wants a relationship that is “on the up and up, squared away.” But partisan consensus and domestic political atmosphere determine that containing China has become unquestionable and irreversible. This is why the US is unlikely to make any compromises in its China strategy.
The US has no plan to let go of its wild ambitions, be it about the trade war, technological blockade, sanctions, the Taiwan question and the various cliques it has formed in China’s surrounding areas to check China’s rise. It should not expect China to sit still. The strength gap between China and the US is narrowing. China is not what it used to be when the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 or when the Chinese ship Yinhe was detained by the US Navy in international waters in 1993, allegedly containing chemical components headed for Iran, but was eventually cleared after months of inspection.
If the US sincerely wants a right relationship with China, it should learn to respect China’s core interests and view China from an equal footing. However, so far, there is no sign of US sincerity except rhetoric.
Diao Daming, a professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, considers such rhetoric “deceptive” and a clap on the US’ own face, as it actually serves the US’ hegemonic agenda and aims to maximize US interests, but at the same time requires China not to respond.
“No mutual respect and ‘only the US benefits’ are not what a right relationship is supposed to be,” Diao said.
The China-US bilateral relationship is one of the most important in the world. The trajectory of this relationship has attracted international attention. Still, the US is stepping up its efforts to suppress China on various fronts such as politics and diplomacy, economy, trade, technology, and military security, showing the true meaning of a cold war. The Global Times invites Chinese and foreign experts to expose the US’ manipulation of the “new cold war” and reveal the damage it may potentially cause to the world.
This is the fifth installment of the series.
The recent visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Russia has raised concerns in South Korea, particularly the worry that a new cold war dynamic may be emerging in Northeast Asia, namely the northern triangle of Beijing-Moscow-Pyongyang vs. the southern triangle of Washington-Tokyo-Seoul. The reason why Western media are sparing no effort in hyping up the so-called northern triangle is because the southern triangle is taking shape. Yet it must be pointed out that South Korea still plays a crucial role in preventing the formation of a new cold war in Northeast Asia.
The deconstruction of the Cold War in Northeast Asia is undoubtedly a secondary effect of the end of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. However, South Korea had made significant contributions to this process. For instance, in June 1990, then South Korean President Roh Tae-woo held his first summit with then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in San Francisco, and diplomatic relations between the two countries officially began on September 30, 1990. In 1992, China and South Korea established diplomatic ties. It was at this time when negotiations were held between South and North Korea, and the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between South and North Korea, as well as the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula were signed.
Since then, the relationship between the two countries has gone through fluctuations with both sides even viewing each other as the “archenemy” at one point. However, South Korea’s efforts toward realizing reconciliation with China, Soviet Union and North Korea have contributed to the gradual melting of the Cold War ice in Northeast Asia. These positive changes have been made possible through the joint efforts of China, Soviet Union, and other parties, including the Roh administration’s “Northern Diplomacy.” Roh laid the foundation for South Korea to enjoy more than 30 years of peace dividends and created conditions for further regional integration in Northeast Asia.
Today, the US is once again sounding the horn of a new cold war on the Eurasian continent, seeking to maintain its hegemonic position through strengthening bilateral alliances and building small cliques. However, whether a new cold war dynamic will reemerge in Northeast Asia, and whether there will be a counterflow against regional integration, is not solely determined by the US. It is also influenced to a considerable extent by the choices made by major regional countries, including South Korea. Unfortunately, the current administration of South Korea seems to be going against the tide of peace. Since coming to power, the Yoon Suk-yeol government has pursued a values-based diplomacy, adopting a so-called “strategic clarity” policy that leans toward the US.
The Yoon government has shown it has no principle when it comes to improving ties with Japan, consolidating alliance with the US, and responding to the trilateral military cooperation with the US and Japan. One of its starting points is the belief that a new cold war between China and the US has already begun, and Yoon administration believes that the US, representing so-called freedom and democracy, is bound to win.
Although the ruling power in South Korea refuses to admit it, opposition forces in South Korea and rational elites have long warned that the emerging signs of a new cold war in Northeast Asia are to a considerable extent the result of Seoul’s response to the US’ push for the new cold war. However, some ruling elites in South Korea resolutely refuse to acknowledge that they are accomplices in escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and instead attempt to use the improved relations between North Korea and Russia as an excuse for their country’s accelerating pace down the path of the new cold war paved by the US and Japan.
The new cold war has not yet taken shape in Northeast Asia, the vast majority of the region’s population does not want to see it coming either. Judging from various concerns within South Korea, it is not in South Korea’s interest to rush to the forefront of confronting China and Russia on behalf of the US, regardless of what kind of subjective intentions and objective reasons. Once a new cold war is ignited in the region, it could not only inflict further damage on South Korea’s economy but also potentially drag the country into an avoidable “hot war.” At that point, South Korea’s destiny will become increasingly beyond its control.
Having gone through the Korean War and the Cold War, the South Korean people understand that a new cold war will only lead to boundless suffering. South Korea should strive for strategic autonomy, work to prevent the emergence of a new cold war in the region, engage and cooperate with China, Russia and North Korea, and avoid following the US and Japan in military and ideological confrontations.
The author is the director and professor of the Center for Korean Peninsula Studies at the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics.