Thomas Shannon’s Defamation of China Dishonors Himself

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon had scarcely settled into his new post before he decided to adopt a radical new policy approach in seeking out any and every means to defame China. His crude methods, however, have on the contrary been a stain upon his own nation. Where should one begin to describe how events have unfolded?

On a recent visit to India, Shannon laid out a pointed diatribe against China that was more fanciful than factual. To summarize, his speech consisted of three primary facets:

First was his nonsensical assertion that China’s actions in the South China Sea are “madness.”

But, one might ask, whose actions truly constitute madness? If the measures that are necessary for China to adopt within its own sovereign boundaries can be called madness, then what should be said of the United States as it flaunts its might by deploying warships and warplanes thousands of miles from its shores, all the way to China’s very doorstep? Is this a “peace tour?” Could it be that the resulting oppression and intimidation exists in the mind’s eye only? If China ordered a mere handful of warships and planes to Hawaii or Los Angeles on a similar “peace tour,” would the United States not call this madness? The logic behind this should be self-evident.

Second were Shannon’s disingenuous attempts to sabotage China-India relations and thereby bring India into the fold for the United States, realizing U.S. aspirations to form a “little NATO” in Asia that could stand against China. The under secretary of state even claimed that China’s efforts to secure the South China Sea held strategic significance for India. “As China works to secure the South China Sea as an area of strategic importance for it, it does so not with the intention of going into the blue Pacific, but with going into the Indian Ocean and broadening its presence in the Indian Ocean… so it is certainly our intention to work with India to have a strong and comprehensive presence there,” Shannon said.

Such tactics that incite division and discord are simply base in nature. The United States began by “shifting its center of gravity to the East,” which later became “strategic rebalancing,” and is now further developing into an “Indian-Pacific strategy.” The questionable motives inherent therein cannot be obscured from the eyes of the world. But just as the United States has consistently failed to read China accurately, it has also failed to truly understand India. As the world’s two largest developing countries, China and India are both increasing their involvement and influence on the global stage, including throughout the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, each at their own pace and in their own fashion. While such would be entirely unremarkable under normal circumstances, Shannon incredibly wishes to spin this into a point of contention. He only chooses to see those interests on which India and the United States are aligned, not that India stands as a nonaligned power; only sees those interests where China and India conflict, not the overall trend of Chinese-Indian development or the multitude of international issues on which they agree; and most of all, has chosen to ignore China-India-Russia trilateral relations and the nascent BRICS organization.*

Third, in an effort to curry favor with India, Shannon has not shied away from violating the very international rules and regulations that he claims to love, mentioning that the United States still holds out hope for Indian efforts to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group despite the opposition of “one country” (implying China), and that that country must be “held accountable” for its actions.

Indeed, China (and it is not alone) holds a dissenting opinion regarding India’s entrance into the NSG. This is because China insists on adherence to international regulations on major global issues, and not permitting double standards. Our Indian friends should understand that this is not directed at India in particular, but intended as a universally applicable principle. China cannot prattle on about the importance of international rules and ask everybody to respect them while itself doing just the opposite, as the United States does when it willfully runs counter to the publicly accepted regulations.

Mr. Shannon, some in the Indian media have asserted that your speech given in India constituted the “strongest statements made against China by the United States.”

I personally do not believe this is so, but given who you are, neither can I object too strongly. And as for you, is “the best yet to come”? You cannot besmirch China’s good name. Can it be that you are not even concerned about bringing shame to your own United States?

The author is a former Chinese ambassador and senior official in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

*Editor’s note: BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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