Analysis & Opinions - The New York Times

America, Don’t Try to Out-China China

| Sep. 02, 2020

Beijing’s nationalism will be self-defeating in the long term. Washington should just let that run its course.

Republicans and Democrats disagree about many foreign policy issues, but not about the perception that the United States risks losing out to China.

For the Republicans, China is an existential threat, and President Trump warned recently, about the former vice president, “China would own our country if Joe Biden got elected.”

For the Democrats, China is a challenge, but manageable. Still, Mr. Biden has pledged that as far as pandemic preparedness goes, America “will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people.”

Even if this tough talk is mostly campaign-trail rhetoric, the next president of the United States should beware of casting America’s China policy in nationalistic terms.

Over the long run, Beijing’s brand of hyper-nationalism is likely to undermine the Chinese Communist Party’s bid for world leadership; that posture worries too many governments.

In the short term, though, it is an effective rallying cry within China, and Washington must be careful not to inflame the sentiment — which could compel Beijing to further harden its positions.

Nationalistic U.S. policies also complicate America’s efforts to mobilize its partners to push back together against China, and they risk alienating individuals of Chinese heritage who contribute to the dynamism of the American economy.

In short: The U.S. government should not try to out-China China.

Beijing has tried to turn the coronavirus pandemic into a public relations opportunity. Deflecting criticism about its early handling of the outbreak in Wuhan, it has boasted about its response at home and its exports of personal protective equipment, while criticizing the performance of Western countries.

In one survey from April of nearly 20,000 people across China, 81 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the national government’s “information dissemination” during the pandemic. Some 89 percent said they were satisfied with its provision of “daily necessities and protection materials.”

  – Via The New York Times.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Chen Weiss, Jessica and Ali Wyne.“America, Don’t Try to Out-China China.” The New York Times, September 2, 2020.

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