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Defining entire China-U.S. relationship as competition is serious misjudgment

Defining entire China-U.S. relationship as competition is serious misjudgment

By Zhong Sheng, People’s Daily

In recent years, the United States has always emphasized “competition” when discussing China-U.S. relations, as if competition has become the dominant theme and even the sole focus of the relationship.

From the “competitive, collaborative and adversarial” rhetoric to the “invest, align and compete” strategy, competition has become the main tone of U.S. policy towards China.

The various measures taken by the United States clearly demonstrate that the so-called “competition” has become synonymous with comprehensive containment, unrestricted suppression, and relentless pressure on China.

As two major countries, it is normal for China and the United States to compete in areas such as trade and technology. Such competition should be fair and reasonable, conducted in a benign and regulated manner, with boundaries and prohibited areas. It should not disregard the rules of the market economy and basic principles of international relations. Core interests should not be used as tools for competition or provocative means.

The United States, under the guise of competition, has used its national machinery to suppress other countries, attempting to sacrifice the interests of other nations and hinder their development and progress in order to seek its own competitive advantage. This approach completely deviates from the true essence of competition and only exposes a zero-sum mindset and Cold War mentality.

The United States shows no intention of engaging in fair competition. It recklessly wields the stick of sanctions, forcefully promotes “decoupling” and so-called “de-risking.” Driven by ideological bias, it generalizes the concept of national security, imposes excessive regulations and scrutiny, and builds “small yard, high fence” around its own interests. It fabricates a false narrative of “democracy versus authoritarianism,” creates an encirclement against China, coerces other countries to take sides, and incites confrontation, disruption, and undermines peace. It constantly provokes China on core issues such as the latter’s political system and territorial sovereignty, seriously violating the basic principles of international relations and damaging the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.

The United States employs all means to hinder China, essentially aiming to deprive the Chinese people of their right to choose their own development path, their right to pursue a better life, their right to achieve legitimate development, their right to build national unity, and their right to develop normal relations with other countries.

America’s perception of competition as the entirety of its relationship with China is fundamentally flawed, and this stems from a directional problem in its understanding of China.

The United States consistently portrays China as the “most serious competitor,” the “most significant long-term challenge,” the “most significant geopolitical challenge,” the “most significant systemic challenge,” and the “only competitor with both the intention and capability to reshape the international order.” It is using its own template of hegemony to mirror China and misjudging China based on the trajectory followed by traditional Western powers.

Viewing the world from a zero-sum perspective, one sees division, competition, and conflicts; viewing the world from a perspective of shared destiny, one sees openness, cooperation, and win-win outcomes. The erroneous perceptions and actions of the United States not only disregard the reality of interdependence between China and the United States, but also distort the history of cooperation and mutual benefit between the two countries, dangerously impacting China-U.S. relations.

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat recently warned that U.S. policy towards China is becoming a major issue for the world.

China and the United States bear a special responsibility for global peace, stability, and development. The world needs an overall stable China-US relationship.

The two countries should start from the perspective of shared interests and the future of humanity, and compete in such areas as who can govern their nations better and ensure the well-being of their own people, who can provide greater impetus for global post-pandemic recovery and growth, who can offer more public goods in addressing climate change, who can provide better solutions to regional hotspot issues, and who can make the planet safer, more peaceful, and more prosperous for the 8 billion people living on it, including both Chinese and American citizens.

The Earth is vast enough to accommodate the independent development and shared prosperity of both China and the United States. The United States should abandon zero-sum games and Cold War mentality, break free from the logic of competition and confrontation, and work with China in the same direction with a sense of responsibility towards history, the people, and the world, so as to realize mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation.

Only by doing so, both countries can learn from each other, make progress together, shoulder international responsibilities as major countries, and contribute their wisdom and strength to global peace and development.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)

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