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US ploy to maintain hegemony

By Guo Chushan | China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-24 08:40


The Joe Biden administration has been reiterating "America is back" ever since assuming office to show the United States is ready to reclaim its global leadership. As such, multilateralism, which previous US president Donald Trump was vehemently against, has become a linchpin of US diplomacy.

To show the world that it is committed to multilateralism, the US administration has taken some swift actions including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, seeking a return to the Human Rights Council and joining COVAX, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access. Biden even hosted the Leaders Summit on Climate in April to show the US is serious about its global commitments.

The US knows it cannot contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, boost the economic recovery, and fight climate change-three of the Biden administration's top-four priorities-without multilateral cooperation.

So is the US really back?

Just by claiming to have brought multilateralism back to the front of US diplomacy, the Biden administration has thrilled the US allies. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Japan, among others, have welcomed the US' "return" in the hope it will promote a "rules-based international order". And yet they are using NATO, G7, the Five Eyes, the Quad and other organizations and platforms to smear China on issues such as the origin of the virus, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and building ideological (essentially anti-China) groups in the name of promoting multilateralism and global cooperation.

It appears the US allies are more comfortable with a US that wears the mask of multilateralism than with a US that withdraws from international organizations and agreements.

The US agenda, be it unilateralism or multilateralism, has always been driven by self-interest, and aimed at containing other countries' rise and maintaining its global hegemony. The US believes in only one ism, and that is hegemonism.

It is not difficult to see the hypocrisy of US-style multilateralism. The US may have returned to the WHO, joined COVAX, and asked Big Pharma to waive the patents on COVID-19 vaccines, but it has also ordered about 2 billion vaccines, more than a quarter of the total global production, although its population accounts for only 4 percent of the world's total.

Are these Biden-style multilateralism and global cooperation?

In the global fight against climate change, the US is a self-proclaimed leader. But while it forces other countries to take on more responsibilities, it has never admitted that it is the largest carbon emitter in cumulative terms, and refuses to shoulder proportionate responsibilities in the global fight against climate change.

Ideology is another driving force of US-style multilateralism. NATO, the Five Eyes, G7 and D10 (the world's 10 largest "democracies") are all exclusionary circles with the US at the core, and forged along the fault lines of histories, cultures and social systems. They use "democracy, freedom, and human rights" as tools to bully other countries, and employ every possible means to subvert, contain and suppress them.

The US fueled the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East, and used the region as a testing ground for "American democracy". But even after a decade, the only "success" it has to show is social turmoil, political chaos, economic woes, and human tragedy. The humanitarian tragedy of the Syrian civil war is heart-wrenching. As for the Afghanistan peace and reconciliation process, it faces a bumpy road ahead. And in more ways than one "American multilateralism" is to blame for all that.

Yet the US is trying to rally like-minded countries to sling mud at China under the pretext of human rights.

Besides, US-style multilateralism is based on geopolitics. The US' Indo-Pacific strategy and NATO's eastward expansion are just two examples of how the US intends to fulfill its geopolitical goals. Least concerned about the worsening global security environment, the US still clings to Cold War thinking and never hesitates to manipulate hot spot issues to its advantage.

As a result, regional conflicts keep flaring up, and religious extremism and terrorism cannot be contained, or political, security and military risks reduced.

More importantly, self-interest is central to US-style multilateralism. No wonder the US doesn't want developing countries to gain more rule-making powers in multilateral institutions. To maintain its hold over global rule-making and thus the power to serve its own interests, the US has been using multilateral and global organizations to amass wealth and power, which is against the spirit and principle of true multilateralism.

True multilateralism is defined by openness, inclusiveness, rule of law, dialogue and cooperation, and evolves with the times. It respects the international system with the United Nations at its core, helps maintain the world order based on international law, and follows and safeguards the UN Charter. None of which applies to US-style multilateralism.

So the slogan "America is back" is just that, a slogan. It is bandied about in the name of multilateralism using democracy, freedom, and human rights. The US is using them to acquire political benefits and maintain its global hegemony. And with more countries refusing to fall into its democracy-freedom-human rights trap, the US is now faking to uphold multilateralism, in a desperate bid to maintain its hegemony.

"America is back", but only to hold on to its global hegemony. Fake multilateralism has no market, and therefore it cannot help the US maintain its hegemony. The international community has seen through the US' ploys.

The author is an observer on international affairs. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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