Project Syndicate (USA): confrontation with China

New York- Instead of directing all the forces of the US Federal government to limit the destructive consequences Covid-19, the administration of President Donald trump is wasting precious time and energy blaming China for the spread of the virus. Experts speak of a new cold war. But if the United States really want to counter China in the fight for global leadership, trump is doing it very clumsily.

The Chinese government generously showered the world with materials and products necessary to combat the pandemic — and even sends a team of physicians and trump blocked air connections with Europe, even without bothering to notify in advance the European allies of America. Since March, the Chinese government has provided to the world health organization (who) has $50 million, and trump has frozen us funding, saying that the who is “citizenries”.

When the foreign Ministers of the “Big seven” held a video conference to discuss a common strategy against Covid-19, U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo began to insist that this pathogen was named “Wuhan virus”, the name of the Chinese city where he is supposed to be, first appeared. Sated this trompowsky antics, the Ministers ended the conference, and not taking any decision.

Chinese largesse, of course, do not come without certain conditions. Who cowardly refused to recognize the successes of Taiwan in containing the HIV epidemic, and takes Taiwan in the organization, for fear of offending mainland China. And the European Union, while the U.S. government has spread conspiracy theories about China, softened the criticism a deliberate misinformation on the part of China — after he threatened to retaliate.

The efficacy of Chinese intimidation is a sign of its growing economic power. We can assume that this tactic would be less effective if the Western allies and other stakeholders (e.g., Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia) are kept together. In the past, support for any such a United front would be the leadership of America. But self-centered stupidity of the current administration exclude this possibility. In the long term, this may allow China to become a leader — for lack of a better.

Moreover, Western countries are rarely carried out common policy towards China. The reasons for this have not changed much since the late eighteenth century when king George III sent Lord Macartney to establish diplomatic relations with the Chinese Empire. The irony of this failed mission is that the British tried to establish trade with China in other goods, not just opium. However, the Emperor Qianlong said that the Chinese from the British nothing.

Before that, McCartney has caused dissatisfaction among the Chinese took him, refusing to bow to the Emperor — such a show of obedience demanded of them, even their own king. Participants the same Dutch mission who have agreed to follow Chinese customs and worship of the Dragon throne, met more favourable attitude in the Imperial Palace. This infuriated the British, who blamed throughout a typical Dutch greed: all for the sake of quick bucks. However, the Dutch arrived, then, as representatives of the “Dutch East India company”, and not their monarch.

All this to the fact that China considered itself the center of the civilized world. The mission arriving from abroad, were viewed as representatives of the tributaries, and never as an equal. Macartney, confident in the fact that Britain is the first country in the world, on such grounds could not make any headway with China in principle. And the Dutch, quite like today, the EU was primarily interested in breaking into the Chinese market and were ready to play by Chinese rules.

Although the influence of Britain faded, the echo of collision of interests of great powers during the time of Macartney heard so far. For nearly a century, the U.S.’s claims to the possession of a model of civilization that has no equal, are not less ambitious than citizencane submission to the emperors of the Qing dynasty.

When China was poor and dependent on the mercy of the world’s great powers, the Americans had no trouble condescending to patronize the Chinese, expecting them to appeal to democracy, capitalism and Christianity. On the other hand, to deal with the formidable Japanese Empire in the early twentieth century was much more difficult. When Japan, as a member of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, asked to Supplement his amendment against racial discrimination among member countries of the League of Nations, the United States (and Australia) has blocked this initiative.

When Chairman Mao in China could hardly earn any money. But if Western countries were not able to agree on how to behave with cats. In 1950, just a year after the Chinese revolution, Britain recognized the people’s Republic of China, and America, are passionate about the crusade against world communism, was extremely indignant. Up to 1970-ies Washington recognized the nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek on a tiny Taiwan as the sole legitimate government of China.

Today, China is once again possible to earn a lot of money, and we’re back in the Macartney. The boundaries of the Median state is now about the same as in the era of the Qing Empire. His government was democratic, no more than when the Emperor Carlone. After a century of wars, invasions, mass poverty and bloodshed China once again becomes the model of civilization, which are expected to imitate the barbarians.

The prospect of Chinese global leadership is not very happy. But the US is quickly fading as an alternative. “American century” was marked with a lot of stupid wars, ideological inflexibility, shamelessly supporting some of the most heinous dictatorships. However, the global commitment to American leadership in General was based on respect for a form of government that — for all the shortcomings in its practical execution — appeal to human aspirations of freedom, including situationon the world.

With China today the situation is different. If China wants to lead the world, he will have to offer something more than money and intimidation. Freedom still matters. Did the protesting Chinese students another reason to erect a ten-meter statue of the Goddess of Democracy in Tiananmen square in 1989? China will not be able to promote such ideas on a global scale, if you don’t first do it at home.

Ian Buruma is the author of numerous books, including “Murder in Amsterdam: death of Theo van Gogh and limits of tolerance”, “Year Zero: history of 1945” and, most recently, “Tokyo novel: a memoir”.