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China bashing seen as empty partisanship

Politicians' finger-pointing talks on Beijing ascribed to 'the silly season'

By YIFAN XU in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-19 09:47


As politicians in the United States step up their finger-pointing at China as elections approach in November, one observer has ascribed the talk to "the silly season".

"People can say whatever they want during campaigns, but what they are able to accomplish when they are actually in a position to implement their claims is subject to a reality factor," William Jones, Washington bureau chief of Executive Intelligence Review, told China Daily.

In an article in Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, last month, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, described China as "the bigger long-term threat". The agency has "committed substantially more resources toward China-related intelligence collection, operations and analysis around the world — more than doubling the percentage of our overall budget focused on China over just the last two years", he said.

"Thank him for reminding us," Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said of the article, adding that Burns had revealed that its "spies are everywhere" and that, "China will take precautions as usual and will not allow the US to get its way through illegal moves".

People in the intelligence world and the US political elite generally adhere to the policy that the US is the world's policeman, Jones said, and that the "intelligence branch "has to provide the military arm with competent information.

The "fundamental fallacy underlying this policy" is that the US government sees China as a primary rival and must counter it, he said.

"This has sent clear signals to China that the US does have double standards, one for the hegemon, and one for everybody else. At the same time the US has a terrible time keeping up with their so-called special status given that China … is rapidly developing a growing middle class and a sizable science and technology capability, a capability that may eventually rival or exceed that of the United States."

In a US congressional hearing recently the Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, warned that "Chinese hackers" are preparing to "wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to the US".

Jones said Wray's statement "falls into the phony narrative about how China wants to bring down the US economy" as well as "plays into some of the prejudices of many of our badly misinformed members of Congress, who are happy to hear their worst fears confirmed by the 'proper authorities'", and "this also allows the FBI chief to get the money".

No 1 issue

"I think the statements by Bill Burns and Christopher Wray have more to do with the fact that things are simply not going their way. Immigration will probably be the No 1 issue in the upcoming presidential debates if it continues to be a Trump-Biden contest.

"The issue of China, however, has already surfaced, as Trump is now calling for 60 percent tariffs on Chinese goods. There is also the war in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East, which will without a doubt play a major role, particularly in Ukraine crisis. These issues will probably become the hot topics of debate, but China will be a close second."

Former US president Donald Trump, the leading contender for the Republican nomination, said this month that if he was elected he would impose tariffs of more than 60 percent on Chinese exports to the US.

Trump's claim was "questionable", Jones said, even if Trump believes what he says.

With present inflation on the prices of food and other essentials, tariffs of 60 percent on Chinese goods would lead to "skyrocketing prices", and poor people would be the worst affected, Jones said.

"Trump has had a good record in reducing goods on the market, but a very poor one in being able to produce them."

Everybody knows that the presidential campaign in the US "is always silly season, where candidates can say whatever they please without having to back it up with action", Jones said.

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