In his speech on China-US relations at the Woodrow Wilson International Center on Thursday, US Vice-President Mike Pence repeated much of the criticism he had leveled at China in his first such speech at the Hudson Institute on Oct 4 last year. In particular, he criticized China’s handling of the “one country, two systems” policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Pence has positioned himself as a moral preacher for and behavior examiner of other countries, which is not conducive to improving bilateral relations. This is not to say the United States has no right to comment on other countries’ behaviors. But a country should look at its own record before criticizing others.
Take for instance the US’ invasion of Iraq. The US’ military offensive not only led to a massive humanitarian crisis in Iraq but also caused unprecedented upheaval in the Middle East, including the refugee crisis and the disappearance of some 300,000 Iraqis. So before speaking on China or any other country, Pence and his fellow US officials should analyze what the US has done in the Middle East.
In fact, the US’ “war on terror” has given rise to new terrorist outfits, which has increasingly exposed China and other countries to the threat of terrorism, extremism and separatism. In contrast, China has been fighting terrorism by educating people and offering them training to learn job skills.
The US needs to ponder on how its “war on terror” in the past almost two decades has exposed other countries to more security risks.
Rebalancing Sino-US trade relations has been a recurring theme of Pence’s speeches. And unlike last year, when he signaled the US economy could be “decoupled” with the Chinese economy, on Thursday he ruled out “decoupling”.
What prompted the US vice-president to change his stance? Perhaps the US has started feeling the pain of the trade war it has launched against China. Although the GDP growth rate under the US administration soared to 3.1 percent in 2017, it dropped to 2.9 percent last year, declining further to 2.1 percent in the first half of this year. Possibly, Pence has learned a vital lesson from the US’ economic development graph’ that a trade war leaves no country unscathed.
China has benefitted from reform and opening-up and its cooperation with the US and other countries, so it will be regrettable if Washington refuses to continue its economic partnership with Beijing. Still, China welcomes a broad deal that can enable the two sides to continue to benefit from bilateral trade in the future.
Moreover, if Pence indeed spoke for his president when he said the US would not “decouple” with China, there are enough reasons to welcome his remarks, because the “decoupling” of the two economies will cause losses to not only Beijing but also Washington.
Pence’s late awareness of the mutual benefits of continuing to engage with China sends a message that despite mounting challenges facing the two countries, they ought to resolve their differences through dialogue. Beijing has always been ready to talk, provided Washington is also willing to do so. But like their American counterparts, the Chinese side, too, wants to have a fair deal instead of a one-sided one as sought by many US politicians.
In his speech on Thursday, Pence also urged Beijing and Washington to continue cooperating on cultural exchanges, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and some urgent issues in the Persian Gulf, which is welcome. And we hope his appeal for peace in Hong Kong and peaceful engagement with Taiwan was genuine. But it should be made clear that Beijing is strongly against any US arms sale to Taiwan, because by doing so, Washington is interfering in the country’s internal affairs and violating the Three Joint Communiqués. -The Daily Mail-China Daily News Exchange Items