Mindset Clashes
Lan Xinzhen
By Lan Xinzhen  ·  2019-06-03  ·   Source: NO.23 JUNE 6, 2019
Many people regard the current Sino-U.S. trade friction as an economic event. But in fact, it is economic on the surface and ideological in essence. It arises mainly from the collision between the following three pairs of ideas.

First, China's concept of the building of a community with a shared future for humanity is at odds with the America First policy of the Donald Trump administration.

The idea was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. In February 2017, the UN incorporated the concept of the building of a community with a shared future for humanity into an official resolution.

According to Xi, the idea has five main aspects: One, we should stay committed to building a world of lasting peace through dialogue and consultation; two, we should build a world of common security for all through joint efforts; three, we should build a world of common prosperity through win-win cooperation; four, we should build an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning; and five, we should make our world clean and beautiful by pursuing green and low-carbon development.

The America First policy came out of Trump's presidential campaign bid and has now become the guidance of U.S. foreign policy.

Under this policy, the U.S. has withdrawn from international agreements and organizations such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and UNESCO. It has imposed additional tariffs on major economies in the world, including its allies, and waged a trade war that undermines the stable development of the world economy.

The idea of the building of a community with a shared future for humanity is based on cooperation, win-win results, and the prosperity of all human beings. The America First policy, however, is predominantly about confrontation and the pursuit of self-interests while shirking basic international responsibilities. The two ideas run completely contrary to each other.

Second, multilateralism, which China upholds, clashes with unilateralism, which the Trump administration embraces.

In recent years, China has played an important role in safeguarding trade multilateralism.

At the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Xi reiterated, "The Belt and Road is not an exclusive club; it aims to promote green development. We can launch green infrastructure projects, make green investment and provide green financing to protect the Earth which we all call home."

His words reflect China's view of multilateralism and were applauded by the international community.

The Trump administration's policies and actions, including withdrawal from international treaties and organizations and tariff hikes, reveal a clear unilateral trend. U.S. behaviors that completely disregard the reasonable interests of other countries and the criticism and condemnation from the international community are destructive to international peace, development and progress.

Third, the U.S. policy to contain China's rise clashes with China's effort to promote win-win cooperation.

A very important reason for the Trump administration's escalation of trade friction is to contain China. With the progress of China's economy, society and science and technology, there are fears in the U.S. that a rising China will replace it as a superpower.

The U.S. regards China through the lens of the Thucydides Trap theory, which states that when a rising power threatens to replace a declining power, the two are destined to go to war.

America First and unilateralism are two remedies prescribed by the Trump administration for problems hampering U.S. social and economic development. These solutions are incorrect because its domestic problems should be tackled through domestic reform rather than by wielding the tariff stick against trading partners.

The U.S. attempt to contain China is the biggest obstacle to good Sino-U.S. relations. Because of the U.S. containment mindset, bilateral trade friction will not end in the near future even with the signing of a bilateral trade agreement.

Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com

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