Discussing “China’s Voice” #4 (钟声)

Recently, “China’s Voice” discussed China’s tensions with the United States. Three consecutive commentaries introduced the Chinese position on Mike Pence’s statement from last year; discussions over intellectual property rights; and the race-based statement made by Kiron Skinner, the State Department’s director of policy planning.

The first commentary is mainly based on presenting the American missionary vision of the world and its impact on US policy towards China. Alluding to the remarks made by Vice-President Pence at Hudson Institute, the Chinese commentary criticized the American approaches and called for a more rational approach from Washington. The major “bone of contention” is the statement that America rebuilt China over the last 25 years and that China is now trying to push America back and claim the number one position. This notion is mainly based on Chinese technological superiority. According to “China’s Voice” the trade war between China and the United States is due to the fact, that the international division of labor has been changed by the Chinese company Huawei and the global economy needs to be redefined. Although the negative tone has been softening, and “People’s Daily” admits that nobody has discredited American investment in China “China’s Voice” deemed the American approach to be in appropriate. Chinese people achieved success without help, the commentary stated. However, naming America as the global Savior will certainly not help to provide dialogue, communication and understanding. From the Chinese perspective, based on a Marxian approach, every religion leads to irrationality, and thus its impact over foreign policy should be limited.

The second “China’s Voice” commentary argues that China’s legal system for protecting intellectual property rights is good, and that it should not be a part of Sino-America negotiations. As the Chinese side states: “some people in the United States shouted and cried: ‘We are being treated unfairly’, China takes ‚unfair advantage’” and „China has stolen US intellectual property rights”. This perspective, presented by Washington, is viewed by the Chinese as a way to gain ground in trade negotiations and to suppress Chinese development.

“China’s Voice” accuses the United States of hypocrisy by saying that, on the one hand, the US government uses double standards. Under the banner of protecting intellectual property rights, the American government exercises its political power.

From the commentary we can assess that the situation in China has become increasingly tense. The commentary stated that facts speak louder than words and the truth spreads all over the world. This, however, reminds us of the Maoist narrative from the times of the Cultural Revolution, when China positioned itself as the center of a revolutionary movement and described itself as the only single truth regime in the World. Accused of theft, China feels itself to be in a very difficult position, which is understandable. The government will defend China’s position and, as declared by “China’s Voice”: “Some American making false accusations will be blown down by the strong east wind!” (美国一些捕风捉影者,必将被强劲的东风吹下历史的舞台). As with the example above, this rhetoric should be understood as the cliché of the Maoist narratives that the east wind prevails. In other words, remembering the past, as one Chinese saying goes, is critical in order to shape the future.

The latest “China’s Voice” refers to the statement made by Kiron Skinner, the State Department’s director of policy planning. Speaking at the Future Security Forum, she said that challenging „the long-term threat” of China is difficult because the country is „not Caucasian” and there is also a lack of diversity in U.S. foreign policy circles. As interpreted by the Chinese, this meant that America was calling for a clash of civilization based on defending the white race. This approach was compared to Nazi policy towards Jewish and Slavic people in Central Europe. The narrative of Arian people’s superiority was, of course, turned into action taken by Germany during the Second War World and produced tragic consequences. As stated by the American bureaucrat, it sounds paradoxical: the US is a multiethnic society, but when the need arises it turns itself into the defender of only one, white civilization. When the racial arguments are taken into account, dialogue among civilizations is not possible. Finally, “China’s Voice” called on America to „stop the horse before the cliff” (悬崖勒马). This Chinese idiom has a very deep meaning, as it is very rarely used publicly. It means, that if somebody does something wrong, he/she should stop him/herself, adjust their actions in order not to escalate confrontation and return to the right path. The importance of the saying is that it was used before the Korean War, and during the crisis over Diaoyu/Senkaku Island. It expresses China’s huge anger and in the particular context is the declaration of war.

The above discussed narratives of being strong, showing its rights and presenting itself as a very assertive player will work for the public opinion in China that needs to see a tough reaction to American discourse. The question is whether the red line of trade war will be crossed and we will experience the competing narratives. If so, America accuses China of being a “thieving, non-Caucasian civilization (meaning non-white civilization)” as was said by Skinner from the State Department. China, in response, referred to “white dominators, Christian fighters and imperial power”. In fact, both sides should limit its narrative, arguments, and rhetoric in order not to open the next chapter in Sino-American trade controversies. Such remarks and narratives might be the most damaging point of further relations and a rapprochement may not be possible.