The event that most drew people’s attention this year at the Two Sessions* was likely Ministry of Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi’s reporters’ reception. Just after the end of the reception, Foreign Minister Wang Yi chatted and joked with the reporters, freely answering questions, and receiving wide public praise.
It was the topic touching on U.S.-China relations that particularly drew passionate debate. Foreign Minister Wang Yi used the simplest and clearest language to reiterate to the world China’s friendship with and optimism for America. This was a pleasant change for many, and allowed the media that worries about U.S.-China relations to relax, while causing those few [entities] that yearn for increased conflict — so as to use the country as a cat’s paw — to lose hope.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s speech demonstrated that China is a responsible great power, with a magnanimous, upright mind and a long view toward the future and to peace. We click “like” for Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s wonderful performance!
Most recently, the controversy between China and America over the South China Sea problem seems to be quite vigorous. Many international relations experts are deeply worried about this, fearing China and the U.S. have no way to avoid Thucydides’ trap, and that it will be hard not to go through a war to determine the two countries’ international standing. This kind of worry is truly too much of a novelization, and carries the characteristics of Mount Liang** where ancient heroes fight over their seating order at a martial arts tournament. What is clear is that this kind of method is certainly ineffective in handling current U.S.-China relations.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that China is not America, but China is not incapable of becoming America. China has no intention of replacing America in world leadership. This emanates from the expressions of what lies at China’s heart, and is the genuine aspiration of the Chinese people. When discussing this problem, Foreign Minister Wang especially pointed out the “America paradigm,” hitting the nail on the head when he noted that in America, there is American-type anxiety in dealing with the future of the rising great power that is China. America is already accustomed to a “do as I please” lifestyle in the world and a “come and go as I please” manner of handling affairs. This has caused America to fall into the latent “enemy trap” that emerges when observing and judging Chinese actions, and thus produced all kinds of worries, anxieties and subjectivities.
Actually, China does not wish to replace America’s ambitions to lead the world, and does not have such lofty goals at all. This has nothing to do with whether or not China has the ability, but is inextricably linked with its deep-rooted China paradigm. The China paradigm we speak of maintains the philosophy of our ancestors with respect to handling affairs; that you shall not wish upon others what you do not desire for yourself. Yet the America paradigm is the exact opposite, as it insists on the primacy of “you” in the principle of “do unto others as you would have them do to you,” but uses “what you desire” as a way of saying that “what you desire is to subjugate others.” The Chinese way of handling affairs emphasizes the “gentleman overseeing the earth,” serving with culture and morality, whereas Americans pursue a hegemonic military world, using force to intimidate other countries. As to which is better, the world is free to have its own opinion.
The chief difference between the methods involved in the Chinese and American paradigms comes from China’s emphasis on sharing, and America’s emphasis on hoarding.
In many realms in particular, the conflict over discourse and influence is precisely the conflict between sharing and hoarding. And the only thing China has pursued currently is striving for appropriate, reasonable space for rights of development and discourse, which does not at all involve America’s core interests. China and America are completely capable of reaching peaceful coexistence and cooperative development.
China and America both have common interests on many more issues, and moreover, ought to announce to the world that the two countries have the ability to solve mutual problems. Examples such as the Paris Accords or the U.S.-China Cybersecurity Agreement illustrate that there is no fundamental conflict of interest between China and America, and that there is no “you die, I live” dual reasoning. It is merely the historical combative contradiction between rising powers and established powers; without reasonableness there will be no mutual development.
It is already enough to have one America in the world, as the world is not capable of bearing the consequences of the reign of two Americas. So China’s choice is absolutely correct and wise. It will never “start from square one.” China only wishes to see the world change into an even more beautiful and impartial one.
Recently we have seen a story related to U.S.-China relations circulating online, talking about the memories of an American man, Martin, who participated in the Korean War. He remembers running into a pair of People’s Volunteer Army soldiers protecting wounded American soldiers, and he risked fire from American troops by taking these American soldiers and delivering them to the front and into the care of American medics. This virtuous deed moved the entire U.S. Army, and the American company commander respectfully bestowed a gift upon those People’s Volunteer Army soldiers. After that, those American soldiers were not willing to go back to fighting, especially not a fight against the People’s Volunteer Army. Martin thus concluded, were America and China to go to war, it would certainly be America’s fault.
This story from a single perspective explains the importance of mutual understanding in U.S.-China relations, just as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. When America changes its paradigm, a wide new clearing will open before us.
It is unnecessary to fret too much over the future of U.S.-China relations. We trust that China and America will be able to give the world a guarantee of security. The U.S. and China will not go to war, and the world will thus act collaboratively.
*Editor’s note: Two Sessions refers to the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
**Editor’s note: This is a reference to the historic Chinese novel, “Outlaws of the Marsh.”