In recent years, against its own volition the world has witnessed a rapid deterioration in US-Chinese relations, which have already landed on a low level that has not been seen throughout the entire history of their official contacts since 1979. As Fox News reports, even US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admits that current relations between the US and China can, to a certain degree, be compared with a new cold war. The only difference is that, unlike the situation with the USSR, China is actively involved in the modern Western economy.
At the same time, it is noteworthy that, with the November elections approaching and a tightening domestic time crunch facing American President Donald Trump owing to the coronavirus pandemic and race riots in the country, he is clearly not in the mood to ramp up the confrontation with China. Therefore, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, took the whole initiative and an active role in whipping up the hysteria of anti-Chinese policy and propagating Sinophobia. And Pompeo is the one who, with stubborn persistency, continues to ratchet up tension everywhere, bringing to light more and more new plots and, for at least a few weeks now, making statements whose overtones the world has not heard since the Cold War.
For example, having severely criticized the decision made by Beijing and Brussels to work harder on reaching a new bilateral investment agreement, Mike Pompeo attacked China due to a national security law in Hong Kong (Xianggang) that entered into force, completely disregarding in his rhetoric the nuances of the American and European (predominantly British) interference in the autonomy’s affairs on the side of those who organized unrest and destabilization, and who have been caught red-handed doing this more than once. The situation in the South China Sea, where the Celestial Empire has disputes with its neighbors over a number of islands, and the deposits of natural resources located around them, became a reason for Sinophobic propaganda on the part of America’s chief diplomat. On 30 July, at a hearing in the US Senate on putting together the State Department’s budget for next year, that same Pompeo said that the Chinese Communist Party is “the central threat of our times.”
He relied on the over 100-year-old principle of “absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas” from the Fourteen Points Speech (1918) given by President Woodrow Wilson right after the end of WWI, and so exacerbated the situation in the South China Sea to such an extent that the region has become an area of direct confrontation – including military confrontation – between China and the United States. As a response to Washington, Beijing, even during the last exercises of the PLA, demonstratively launched a ballistic missile, including the so-called “aircraft carrier killer”, into the waters of the South China Sea to simulate a strike on American warships. The Japanese newspaper The Japan Times stated that by doing so it sent a clear warning to the United States.
Involving countries from various regions around the world in its confrontation with China, Washington is nonetheless trying to keep its focus on Europe while doing this by using Pompeo’s contacts with the European political elite for this purpose, and persistently injecting into their minds the propagandistic assertion about the allegedly acute danger posed by China in current conditions for Europe and the whole world, and the need to withdraw American and European production facilities from the PRC because of this. However, this assertion has not yet received the general support that Washington expected, since in recent years European and Chinese companies have substantially integrated their production cycles. For example, a survey conducted by Bank of America experts showed that American and European companies would have to spend about USD 1 trillion to withdraw their production facilities from China, which, amid losses from the coronavirus pandemic, would represent an unbearable burden for many companies and countries.
That is why many experts and even American media outlets recommend that Washington avoid Cold War-style conflict with Beijing, since this kind of foreign policy course is associated with high risks: economic losses, infringement of freedoms for Americans themselves, and even nuclear war. Today, no one doubts that a new cold war will lead to a sharp increase in military spending, and even spark a new arms race, against the backdrop of a record-high deficit for the US defense and federal executive budgets, and this would certainly cause serious damage to America, which is already struggling with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, despite all these risks, a new cold war with China does not guarantee a result that is similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union at all, or even success on a lesser scale in the confrontation with China, which today is actively supported by Russia and many other countries around the world.
Therefore, Washington’s attempts to create an anti-Chinese coalition in Europe are doomed to failure, since China and Europe are now united by a common problem – the aggressive policy put forth by the United States. Both China and Europe are tired of US hegemony, and although they have different views on quite a few issues there is a certain similarity between Chinese and European policy. And it is precisely this similarity in the positions taken by Europe and China to protect multilateralism and free trade that is fostering their alliance, and joint efforts and further cooperation will only strengthen their ties, and help China and Europe get out from under the US yoke.
And this view was confirmed by the critical reaction from the European public after the recent visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where the White House emissary tried to turn Europe against China with more resounding statements.
In parallel with Pompeo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also visited Europe, and expressed his hope for long-term joint cooperation efforts, including in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Responding to the main points in the agenda to stir up conflict that is being imposed on China by the United States, the Chinese minister made unprecedented efforts to clarify his country’s stance on the range of issues involved in this to the leaders and foreign ministers of the countries he visited, with whom he has held more than a dozen rounds of talks. He devoted one meeting with European experts to these goals, which four hundred members of IFRI, the French Institute of International Relations, took part in.
Today, many US allies in Europe maintain friendly relations with China. This fact, on one hand, and Washington’s overt Sinophobic pressure and its habit of unceremoniously interfering in the affairs of other countries, on the other hand, put them in a difficult position, since they now have entered a stage when it has become necessary to make a choice.
However, it is quite obvious that no one needs another cold war. In addition, recent events clearly show that Europe is not inclined to put up any opposition to China, as Mike Pompeo wants. It thus turns out that all US attempts to create an anti-Chinese alliance in Europe are ending in failure, and against this background there is a continued, noticeable deterioration in relations between the Old World and the United States, through the obvious fault of the latter.
Vladimir Danilov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.