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Huanqiu: Six Countermeasures to the Challenges from the U.S.

[Editor’s Note: Huanqiu Online, the Chinese version of Global Times Online, a daily publication under People’s Daily, published an article by Zhang Weiwei, a researcher at the Chunqiu Comprehensive Research Institute, a Chinese think tank, on how China should respond to the U.S. suppression of China’s rise. The author suggested six measures that can be taken in the diplomatic, economic, regional, and ideological (soft power) areas. The author states that “China’s GDP will surpass the U.S.’s GDP in ten years” and the China Model will defeat the U.S. system. The following is a translation of the article.] [1]

The U.S. is trapped in the most severe recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s, while China’s strong growth continues. In this situation, the U.S. is even more worried that it might lose its position as number one in the world. Thus it has increased its efforts to obstruct China. As the gap in hard power between the U.S. and China diminishes, the U.S. will rely more on using its soft power to deter and prevent China’s rise.

I expect that the U.S. will continue its usual approaches, one being “internal deterrence” and the other “regional deterrence.” “Internal deterrence” refers to developing and supporting the hostile forces within China, developing and supporting the pro-West elite groups and media within China, and continuing to create topics to undermine China’s determination. The eventual effect on China would be chaos or even disintegration, and thus the U.S. would win the war without an actual fight.

“Regional deterrence” refers to sowing discord between China and its neighboring counties, creating tension and spreading the “China threat” theory, creating conflicts between China and its neighbors, and thus slowing down or even stopping China’s rise. In the past few years, the U.S. has stirred up the Korean crisis and Sino-Indian conflict. Now it is provoking conflict between China and the Southeast Asian countries. This is the main cause of China’s unstable relationships with its neighboring countries.

U.S. political culture lacks the concept of “being benevolent to others.” For the sake of U.S. interests, “being evil to others” is often the norm for U.S. policies. Over the upcoming 10 years, as China’s power increases and U.S. power decreases, the U.S. will increase its efforts in “internal deterrence” and “regional deterrence” to prevent China’s rise. We must anticipate and understand this issue. We should not take it lightly. Nor should we use wishful thinking to replace firm and forceful countermeasures.

How should we respond to challenges from the U.S.? First, (we should) look at the opponent strategically but take it seriously tactically. My basic evaluation of the situation is that the trend for China’s GDP shows that China will surpass the U.S.’s GDP in ten years. This will not change; as long as we adhere to the China Model, time is on our side.

Given the current economic crisis, the U.S. is not capable of starting a war against China. However, the U.S. is very likely to create tension or even small-scale conflicts between China and its neighboring countries. They can distract the U.S. public’s attention, deplete China’s power, and delay China’s rise. This approach gives them the greatest return for the least cost. It is likely to be the first option the U.S. government will choose. We need to be prepared.

Second, China’s foreign diplomacy and strategy should have a new and larger direction. “Keeping a low profile” should be “confidently keeping a low profile.” The “peaceful rise” should have a non-peaceful bottom line. We must turn around the unfavorable situation, “You fight your battle and I fight mine,” and set up a chess match that favors China.

Third, (China should) contact, have a dialog with, and interact with the U.S. in a larger arena. The Sino-U.S. relationship is very important. If the U.S. does not participate, any coalition against China will not work. However, we should not have too many illusions about the U.S. We should consider linking the issue of how the U.S. provokes the tension between China and its neighboring countries to other (trade, financial world, etc.) issues. If the U.S. continues to provoke countries on China’s borders, it will have to pay the price in other areas.

Fourth, we should help those countries that do not have land and sea disputes with China (maybe this can be called the “China and the Southeast Asia Good-Neighbor Cooperation Program”) and strengthen our efforts in East Asia cooperation to avoid having the U.S.’s Trans-Pacific Partnership plan impair regional cooperation in East Asia.

Fifth, we need to define the bottom line on the South China Sea issue. We need to prepare on the hard power (force) front. If some countries continue trampling on China’s bottom line, China should consider using all measures (such as economic measures), and even use non-peaceful measures rationally and restrictedly. In regard to some countries that signed the South China Sea exploration agreement, China should adopt countermeasures. For example, we should conduct military exercises in the areas in question or declare those areas to be within the military exercise boundaries.

Sixth, we should speed up the development of our soft power and use strong discourse power and political soft power to counter U.S. challenges. To do that, we can focus on how the U.S.-styled democracy gets the Asian countries into serious trouble and that the U.S. itself ends up in a severe crisis. We can also explain the reasons that the China Model has succeeded. The success of the China Model marks the end of the “end of history.” [2]

1. Huanqiu Online, “Expert: Six Countermeasures to the U.S. Challenges; Hurry up and Turn the Bad Situation Around,” November 18, 2011.
2. This Refers to Francis Fukuyama’s claim about the “end of history” from his book The End of History and the Last Man (Fukuyama, 1992). Fukuyama argues that the end of the cold war represents the “universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government,” thus ending the evolution of mankind’s ideology.