US containment strategy full of fallacy

To contain China, Washington must rope in its allies, while the America First doctrine is pushing these allies away.

The ninth round of high-level China-US trade talks are scheduled for Wednesday in Washington. US side released optimistic signs, indicating further progress. It is likely that the two sides are coming to an agreement rather than economic decoupling. This trend is obviously inconsistent with certain radical views inside Washington to contain Beijing as a strategic rival.

Eased tensions in China-US trade is not the only thing that proves the US strategy of restraining China is unrealistic. Washington has taken a tough posture toward China on various fronts in the past year, having very little effect.

Washington has constantly smeared the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and slapped false accusations on Beijing, such as the so-called debt trap. Nonetheless, few developing countries buy the US’ argument. 

The BRI yields positive results in Asia, Africa and Latin America. With Italy joining BRI, other major European powers are changing attitudes. The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in late April will see about 40 foreign leaders participate – much more than in 2017.

The US has made every effort to crack down on Huawei, but Huawei’s rise is even more unstoppable. This case mirrors the reality that the US cannot act on its will.

There are growing doubts whether US military strength can help Washington achieve what it wishes in the Taiwan Straits and South China Sea by pressing China. People’s Liberation Army fighter jets’ crossing the “middle line” of the Straits has clearly caused more shock than the US warships’ moves in the region. 

US failure to contain China lies in its misjudgments on its own ability and China’s strength. Its strategies towards China are based on assumptions.

China has no ambition to overthrow the world order and seek spheres of influence in different regions. That China pursues mutual benefits and win-win is not lip service. The BRI has brought tangible benefits to participant countries. 

China does not seek to confront the US, but it holds a firm stance in safeguarding its core interests, which has produced effective results. China holds the edge in some areas as its military is focused on offshore areas. 

China’s foreign cooperation, including that with the US, is based on a win-win nature, which makes it harder for the US to obstruct China’s foreign relations. Even if the US is more powerful than China, China knows how to utilize its strength.

Some Washington elite want to contain China, which, however, is detrimental to the international system led by the US itself. To contain China, Washington must rope in its allies, while the America First doctrine is pushing these allies away.

Over the past few years, China has consolidated its comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with Russia. It has also improved ties with its neighbors that are US allies. However, the US has not strengthened ties with most of its allies, and has even distanced itself from them. It has withdrawn from several multilateral institutions. Its Indo-Pacific strategy is merely symbolic.

Since last year, the US has adopted a wrong approach toward China. China does not engage in a geopolitical rivalry with the US, and the root cause of their development lies in themselves. China stresses on its own affairs, and US President Donald Trump is also more inclined to dealing with domestic issues. 

But he is distracted by too many contentious issues within his country. The US should focus on solving those issues rather than containing China.

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