‘America First’ versus ‘China First’


By Yu Jincui (Global Times, 12 August 2020) –  As prospects for international cooperation dwindle thanks to US President Donald Trump’s animosity toward multilateralism and shirking of international responsibilities under the slogans of “America First” and “Make America Great Again,” a hypothetical question is raised: What will happen if China adopts slogans like “China First” and “Make China Great Again”?

All countries pursue their own best national interests and every country wants to be great. This is the basis for cultural continuity. All citizens in every country keep their nation deep in their hearts. They support policies that prioritize their own country’s development. China is no exception. It has persisted to boost development for the betterment of its citizens.

The difference is: making America great is being done through a selfish “America First” approach that tramples on other countries’ interests.  China instead pursues a win-win approach and explores coexistence with different societies.

Take a look at what the US has done by sticking to the America First doctrine. It has launched trade wars with major economies around the world including China and Europe saying China and other trading partners have long taken advantage of the US. Washington withdrew from international multilateral mechanisms and pacts one after another. This is causing unprecedented chaos to the international order.

The US threatened allies to increase their military spending for US’ protection. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it blocked the shipments to and outbid other countries, mostly its allies, in the increasingly fraught global market for coronavirus protective equipment – thus being accused of modern pirate.

The “America First” approach Trump has adopted to “Make America Great Again” in fact reflects the US’ unprecedented selfishness. It basically translates into, “We don’t care about others or what happens as long as we are good.” It is hopelessly tied to a mix of unilateralism, bullying and blackmail – what China has long opposed and called upon the international community to fight against. China will never seek the country’s development through a US-styled egoistical approach.

China has found a suitable path to realize its development. By insisting on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, it has persistently deepened reforms and opening-up to adhere to a peaceful rise. China has achieved remarkable development. One important reason for China’s success can be attributed to how it integrated its development with international cooperation.

China seeks win-win results in realizing its development. The process of China’s development is a process of deep integration with the world and to maximize benefits for the international community.

It has interacted globally through the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. This has attracted over 100 countries. Under the initiative, cooperation has transcended differences of political systems and ideologies.

Washington has packaged its “America First” orientation as an attempt to make freedom and democracy flourish while it smeared China’s efforts to benefit from global cooperation as assertive.

However, “America First” hasn’t been able to make the US great again. The US is deeply mired with the coronavirus and profound economic woes. Its unilateralism has been denounced by many countries and regions around the world as allies gradually drift away from it. More and more countries will see through and condemn the selfish, unilateral nature of the “America First” doctrine and support China’s views of win-win cooperation.

It’s not wrong for the US to make slogans like “America First” and “Make America Great Again.” What’s wrong is the means it has adopted to realize these goals. “Make America Great Again” cannot be a one-man show. It cannot be separated from cooperative interactions with the world.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. [email protected]

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