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The US' position of strength is its real weakness

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-29 06:39
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Birds fly near the US Capitol at sunrise, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, Feb 8, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken seems to have a short memory because he claimed at a news conference on Dec 20 that "we will continue to engage with China from a position of strength" and boasted about the United States' alliances in the region while claiming that China was a threat to peace and stability.

Blinken appears to have forgotten how he was rebutted in Anchorage, Alaska, in March 2021, by Yang Jiechi, then top Chinese diplomat, that "the US does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength". Yang's rebuttal became so popular that it appeared on many merchandises, from T-shirts to phone back covers sold on e-commerce platforms.

Chinese people are fed up of the condescending tone used by US politicians against China. That the US is extremely lonely as a permanent UN Security Council member and does not appear to occupy a position of strength becomes clear when you see how repeatedly it has vetoed resolutions for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Even its allies in Europe have not sided with it on this issue.

The US' reputation has taken a beating, as the whole world, especially the Global South, has witnessed its hypocrisy on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Even US diplomats warned US President Joe Biden that "we are losing support of Arabs for a generation" by blindly supporting Israel.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Dec 15, US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns blamed Beijing for not using its influence in the Middle East to end the Israel-Palestine conflict. By doing so, he deliberately turned a blind eye to the hectic diplomatic efforts by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and China's permanent representative to the UN Zhang Jun.

The truth is that the US has been providing military support for Israel and has endorsed its repeated bombings of Gaza, which have claimed the lives of more than 21,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and caused a horrible humanitarian crisis.

While top United Nations officials, from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, have not mentioned the US by name, their outrage over US policy cannot be more obvious.

Gaza, however, is just one of the low points of US foreign policy. Its 20-year war in (and occupancy of) Afghanistan ended with the takeover of the country by the Taliban, which former US president George W. Bush had overthrown in 2001. The Iraq War, the regime change in Libya, the "color revolutions" in Central Asia and the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East... the list of US foreign policy disasters is long.

Perhaps, to some US officials, the hundreds of US military bases around China is a sign of the US' strength which in turn enables it to bully China, as Burns tried to do when he bragged about the US' access to nine military bases in the Philippines. But there is no reason to believe the US has the right to gang up against and bully China, because the US is the biggest threat to global peace and stability.

The US' accusation that China poses a threat to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait is laughable because safe shipping lanes in the two waters matter more to China than the US, or any other country.

Even the US president is not in a position of strength. Biden's dismal approval rating of 39 percent in 2023 is the worst among eight US presidents since Jimmy Carter.

Burns blindly accused China of severing contacts between the US and Chinese governments. But he seems to have forgotten that it was former US president Donald Trump who terminated the 90 high-level dialogue and exchange mechanisms, a policy that Biden has not reversed.

It's easy for Burns to blame Chinese news media outlets for distorting US politics and society. But he knows full well that the US is once again in the grip of McCarthyism, and the farce of China bashing will likely climax during the 2024 US presidential campaign.

The problem with Washington's "position of strength" is that the US never treats any other country as an equal, not China, not Africa, not Asia, and not Europe. That is its real weakness.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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