Pompeo’s bid to launch new ‘Cold War’ to hurt US – Opinion –


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Yorba Linda, California. [Photo/Agencies]

The US administration is trying to trigger a new “Cold War”-this time against China. A series of talks on China by top US officials concluded with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California on July 23.

Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations and a prominent voice of US foreign policy, has pointed out the ignorance, hubris and self-contradiction of the surreal “Pompeo doctrine”. It may be easy to dismiss the new Cold War warriors, such as National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, FBI director Chris Wray, Attorney General William Barr, and Pompeo, saying they are detached from reality, and claim they are “doomed to failure”, but many other opinions-of more moderate and professional officials from the Barack Obama administration and the current administration-indicate there is widespread misreading of China’s strategic intentions.

If a doctor’s diagnosis is wrong, whether because of wrong test results or the doctor’s bias, then the prescription will not fix the problem.

Take former US director of National Intelligence Dan Coats for example. If anyone should have a clear-eyed understanding of China’s international strategy, it would be him. In a recent article in The Washington Times, Coats rightly pointed out Pompeo’s conceptual error and said that “there’s no Cold War with China-and if there were, we couldn’t win”. And yet he misrepresented many aspects of China’s international strategy.

First, Coats’ claim that the Belt and Road Initiative is aimed at “shifting the center of the world economy to Eurasia” is a misrepresentation of China’s initiative. In no document has China said anything even close to such a thing. In fact, from the very beginning, the Belt and Road Initiative has been misinterpreted by many US scholars and politicians as a geopolitical tool for China to “dominate the world”. In reality, countries along the Belt and Road routes are relatively less developed, and therefore need infrastructure, investment, and technology to better participate in globalization.

Second, Coats repeated the consensus in Washington that China “is pursuing increasingly aggressive territorial ambitions”. The fact is, in the past three decades, China has settled land borders with all its neighbors, except India. And it has not made any new territorial claims, or started a war to take exclusive control of a disputed territory.

By contrast, there are plenty of threads showing that certain agents of the US have plotted, funded, coordinated, assisted and/or propagated interferences in China’s internal affairs, which is an affront to China’s sovereignty-although the country has thwarted all such attempts.

Coats also said that China’s strategy “aims to encircle the West technologically, dominating all the advanced systems of data collection”. This is the point-the fear of a global “big brother”-on which most Western elites could unite. Pompeo has been visiting countries around the world preaching the dangers of such a “dystopia” and pressuring them to ban all Chinese technologies. This divisive call-to build an “information wall” between China and the “free world”-is essentially an ideological “Cold War”.

China does not see technological advancement as a zero-sum game. The consequences of US sanctions against Chinese high-tech companies, including telecom giant Huawei, may suggest China does not have the capability to threaten the US, but the opposite is true, and history has shown it is the US that is the real “big brother”, which conducts surveillance against other countries, including its allies, in blatant violation of international law, posing a grave threat to those countries’ national security.

Some US politicians and scholars have been deliberately misinterpreting China’s “long-term goals”. Some of these are the result of a general lack of knowledge of Chinese history and culture, owing to over-exaggeration of a few cases, or gross misrepresentation of or quoting out of context certain Chinese documents and blowing it out of proportion.

In recent years, many US policy experts and politicians have distorted China’s strategic intentions, misrepresenting them to the American people, and the current US administration has used such misrepresentations and misinterpretations to also claim the novel coronavirus pandemic is a Chinese conspiracy. The US administration wants to cut off all communication channels and refuses to continue bilateral dialogue with, and demands unilateral “results” from China. In other words, it wants to replace diplomacy with pressure, negotiation with intimidation, and cooperation with capitulation.

Without addressing these deeply misplaced narratives, China cannot stop the downward spiral of China-US ties. At this critical moment, peace-loving and truth-seeking US citizens must speak out and act to counter such false and malicious propaganda against China.

But it is also important that China clearly explain its intentions to the world so neo-McCarthyites cannot misinterpret its good intentions as evil designs.

The author is director of International Political Studies, National Institute for Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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