Pacific Dialogue
People-to-people exchange should take the lead in recoupling
By Wang Dong  ·  2022-11-29  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

These are an edited excerpts from Wang’s speech on Cooperation & Responsibilities: China-U.S. Relations and Global Governance webinar hosted by Beijing Review on November 22:

The U.S. bipartisan consensus on engaging China since normalization [of China-U.S. relations in 1972] contained an epistemological fallacy that viewed China as “the other,” the one that is to be “transformed and integrated” into the U.S.-led international order with the implicit expectations that China would, over time, gradually become like the U.S., economically and even politically.

Now, a number of U.S. analysts believe that the policy of strategic engagement with China, beginning with former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China back in 1972, has failed. China was not transformed, nor did it follow the U.S. suit.

Elites now have shifted from one extreme to another, viewing China as an authoritarian power determined to challenge and replace American hegemony, hence they vow to “compete with China in defending U.S. supremacy.”

The U.S. arms its policy with ideological rhetoric. Washington has engaged in a process of dehumanization and demonization, framing China as an repressive power that stands in opposition to the so-called liberal-democratic vow. It has made no secret of its attempt to frame China as a rule-breaker in the existing international order.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, also said in an interview with CNBC in September, 2021, that the U.S. needed to work with EU to “slow down China's rate of innovation.”

Yet, the inherent racism has been quoted in an ideological discourse that were used to justify and rationalize efforts to maintain Western dominance of the world. Evidence of racism in the U.S. approach to competing with China includes the rise of neo-McCarthyism—political policies or ideology seen as a resurgence or continuation of McCarthyism that held sway in the U.S. in the early 1950s when then Senator Joseph McCarthy led a campaign to root out supposed communist infiltration in the government and other institutions—in recent years.

Chen Gang, a professor with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was charged with espionage in 2021 under the “China Initiative”, an effort by the Trump administration to investigate allegations that U.S.-based scientists were transferring advanced technologies to China. If the U.S. were to develop a progressive China policy in the decades to come, such a tendency of racism must be reined in and rectified.

There have been talks in international arenas about the so-called hegemony competition between China and the United States. Yes, China is rising, but is the country seeking to challenge or replace American hegemony?—Not really. Being a hegemony means you get to be hated by everyone in the world. Then why would China follow in the footsteps of the U.S. to become another hegemon?

China wants first and foremost to deliver better goods to the Chinese people. Second, China seeks to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and third, China hopes to become one of the global leading powers, but not a hegemon, in the years to come.

What the U.S. elites should do is to treat China as an equal, with respect, and accept it as a rising power and a member of the international system, rather than “the other” that is to be transformed.

While Biden and top officials in the administration have publicly confessed that Washington no longer seeks to change the political system in China, American strategists and policymakers should read the report to the 20th Communist Party of China National Congress word-by-word. It has made clear how China is to better deliver policies, to improve and grow its economy and to improve the livelihood of its people.

During their top meeting on November 14 on the sidelines of the 17th Group of 20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed that people-to-people exchange is important, and agreed to encourage the expansion of such exchanges in all sectors.

Top-level meetings aside, exchanges between corporations and universities remain. For instance, Peking University is in collaboration with the George W. Bush Foundation. The two sides had a number of dialogues last year and this year focusing on economics, trade and security.

China-U.S. Young Scholars Forum, co-organized by the Global Times, the Carter Center in the U.S., and the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding at Peking University, was held online to commemorate 5th anniversary of the forum on April 10, 2021. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent a congratulatory letter and encouraged the exchanges between young people from both countries.

When young people get together, there is no baggage of ideological prejudices. They are able to engage in genuine, candid, inspiring and mutually respectful exchanges. So President Xi has said many times that the hope of China-U.S. relations rests on the shoulders of young people. We should get ready for the post-COVID engagement, and people-to-people exchange should take the lead in recoupling the two societies together.

The author is a tenured professor at the School of International studies and executive director of the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding at Peking university

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

Comments to

China Focus
Special Reports
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise with Us
Partners:   |   China Today   |   China Pictorial   |   People's Daily Online   |   Women of China   |   Xinhua News Agency   |   China Daily
CGTN   |   China Tibet Online   |   China Radio International   |   Global Times   |   Qiushi Journal
Copyright Beijing Review All rights reserved 京ICP备08005356号 京公网安备110102005860