American politicians have wanted China to have a “peaceful evolution” for a long time, hoping to use all sorts of tactics to fracture China, ideally, with economic and cultural means. Yet, after decades, people have realized that not only did China not have a peaceful evolution, China is becoming more confident and powerful with its “peaceful reform.” Lately, the world has discovered that the country that wanted China to have a peaceful evolution is perhaps experiencing its own unprecedented “peaceful evolution.”
A few days after Donald Trump moved into the White House, he made the world see him in an all new way. His drastic executive orders have shocked the once quiet American stock market, generating much reaction. The Dow Jones industrial average has continued to climb, reaching an unprecedented high of 20,000; the market is showing its approval for the new president. If one were to carefully analyze President Trump’s recent actions, we might be able to see how America is moving toward a peaceful evolution under Trump’s leadership.
First, Trump is making America bide its time. He advocates reining in America’s brash style in Europe, NATO, and in conflict-ridden regions of the world, partly due to limited capital and funding, but more importantly, because he does not want the American military to be the scapegoats of the world, always fighting others’ wars, costing both money and lives. There will be no more of these bad deals for America. This policy change is enormous, and the first step America could take to integrate into the world.
Second, Trump has realized that development is key, which is central to China’s view of development. America has realized that concentrating on one’s own affairs and focusing on domestic economic development is what its people really need. Therefore, President Trump has “liberated” the Keystone XL project (which was previously shut down by the Obama administration) for the simple reason that the project would create many jobs as well as revitalize related American industries, such as steel and construction equipment. While the program was previously stopped by the government due to pollution concerns, when faced with the fundamental conflict of environment vs. development, even America, the economically powerful and self-aggrandizing champion of environmental protection, had to prioritize developing employment and put environment on the back burner. Development is the key to everything.
Third, the American government is finally realizing the meaning of “people-oriented.” When China consistently promoted the “people-oriented” philosophy of development, the Western media always treated it as propaganda and ignored its inclusion of Chinese development philosophy. In the 30-plus years of reform and opening-up, China has always maintained and promoted its “people-oriented” beliefs and built a comprehensive, complete and whole system of policies for and benefiting the people. This has helped to generate a high level of identification with the enormous progress of “reform and opening-up” among Chinese citizens, which united the Chinese people in overcoming obstacles and obtaining success.
Trump’s cancellation of the last administration’s health care reform was also based on benefiting the American people. When he began building the wall on the border with Mexico, it was to protect American citizens from harm.* When the American president really serves the 99 percent, the people who do not own most of the wealth, America might truly realize the promise of its constitution.
Fourth, in the last few decades, America has focused a lot of its talent, energy and capital on developing Wall Street; while managing to create the ultra rich 1 percent, the development has left the other 99 percent in the impoverished class, creating an incurable social trauma that is the product of America’s distorted development. Meanwhile, China was able to lift 7 billion people out of poverty in just a few decades, providing education and basic health care for most of its citizens, and is the only country in the world that dared promise to completely eradicate poverty. Fulfilling this promise is not about slogans but years of hard work, and the inevitable result of all citizens rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. In one word, China’s achievement is not a lucky break but the result of hard work and smart decisions. The leadership impact of China’s pragmatic view of development and the role model it provides for America and other countries cannot be underestimated.
Trump’s dealings with the Chinese over the past few decades have made him understand how the Chinese people’s endurance and work ethic is instrumental in developing China. It is a fact that the emphasis China places on the belief that “empty words waste a country and real work grows a country” has touched the world.
We hope to see America achieve a peaceful evolution, to be able to discuss problems and disagreements with the rest of the world instead of using aggressive confrontations, military threats, or forceful sanctions, and that the world becomes more peaceful, harmonious, and gentle.
China is an open country, and China’s economic development is the best free ride for the development of the world. China welcomes all countries, including America, to get onboard with China, to enjoy the journey and overcome obstacles on the way to success. As President Xi Jinping has said, “The most pressing task now is to lead the world economy out of its predicament.” It matters not who helps the evolution of whom, it’s more important whose development beliefs, policies, and principles lead to the evolution of the world. China has spent decades of hard work to create a complete theoretical system suitable for its development, which also benefits the world.
The America under Trump’s leadership might not completely change; it could even reverse course on some core issues, such as trade conflict, currency exchange rates, maritime rights and interests; or even over-use of protectionist policies in some areas, and return to its old path of hurting others and oneself. China should fully prepare itself for such development with its policies, and to try to help America’s peaceful evolution to be as peaceful and as enduring as possible.
China’s vehicle is big enough to accommodate countries that truly seek development, including America, and allow them to travel forward together.
The author is a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University.
*Editor’s note: Although President Trump has announced his intention to build this border wall, construction has not yet begun.