The Heritage Foundation just published a report titled “Winning the New Cold War: A Plan for Countering China.” Are China and the U.S. in a New Cold War, as this report contends?
Chinese leader Xi Jinping does not want us to believe so; he urges the world, especially the U.S., to discard a “Cold War mentality.” And President Joe Biden echoed Xi, saying in his State of the Union address in February: “I’m committed to work with China where we can advance American interests and benefit the world.”
Well-intentioned and peace-loving people do not like war, hot or cold. But confrontation with rogue states is inevitable at many critical moments in history. What do we do when we have to face a rogue nation that projects its power onto our territory, such as by sending a spy balloon?
The term “Cold War” was coined to describe the confrontation between the democratic world led by the U.S. and the communist bloc led by the Soviet Union from the end of World War II to the collapse of the communist bloc in the 1990s.
During that era, the communist bloc suppressed freedoms domestically and waged communist revolutions internationally. The totalitarian communist ideology challenged and threatened the democratic world head-on. To contain communism without waging a world war, the democratic nations led by the U.S. used a strategy of isolation in economic, educational, and technological sectors and promoted the values of democracy and human rights through publications, broadcasting, and other channels. This confrontation is called the Cold War, and the strategy of the democratic world is called the Cold War strategy.
Due to the inherent inefficiency of the communist economy, the embargo by the democratic world, and information warfare, the democracies won the Cold War.
In 1976, when Chinese communist dictator Mao Zedong died, the Chinese Communist Party embarked on economic reform to save the nearly bankrupt economy. It invited the democratic world to do business. Since then, the democratic world has supported China’s development and treated China as a friend. However, while doing business with the U.S. and Europe, the CCP has never changed its ultimate goal of defeating the democratic world, especially the U.S. For example, in 1999, when the U.S., led by then-President Bill Clinton, enthusiastically supported China’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization, two high-ranking military officers in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army published a book titled Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America. The Chinese military has been using the U.S. as the enemy all along in its strategies and exercises. Defeating the U.S. has been the highest goal of the CCP. And due to the CCP’s brainwashing, such a goal has been instilled in the minds of the vast majority of Chinese. Whenever a new invention is made in China, people always ask: is that better than what the U.S. has? If not, that’s not a good invention. So, the CCP has been in a Cold War with the U.S. all along, parallel to its doing business as usual with the U.S.
Xi lied. The CCP has had not only the Cold War mentality, but also has been conducting it.
It was the U.S. that failed to realize that the CCP has been in a cold war with it for a long time.
The U.S. had been practicing an engagement policy with China for decades. It opens its door to Chinese scholars and students to learn cutting-edge science and technology; U.S. businesses have been trading and investing in China, providing managerial know-how and markets.
To be fair, it is not true that the U.S. government had not complained about the CCP’s vogue behaviors. For decades, the American government of various administrations has lodged complaints to the CCP and asked it to stop its lawless actions, such as human rights violations, military expansions in open seas, and weaponization of trade to punish countries that criticized its human rights records. But those complaints essentially fell on the CCP’s deaf ears.
The key reason for the failure is that the U.S. and other democratic nations used a gentlemanly way to deal with a rogue state.
Modern democracy, as practiced by all advanced democratic nations, is a game governed by a set of rules agreed upon by all players. And the punishment for rule violators only works if the violator has some basic respect for the rules. This obviously is not the case when a state is bound by no rules and is powerful and big.
Now, America has slowly and painfully realized that to deal with the largest rogue state, we have to use punishment that has teeth.
This, in essence, is a Cold War strategy. In order to pressure the CCP to obey international rules, the democratic group must be able to make credible threats and use a reciprocal strategy to punish bad behavior. And history shows that the Cold War strategy is effective in defeating the communist bloc.
With that said, using the Cold War strategy to defeat Chinese communism is much harder than defeating the Soviet bloc back then. During the old Cold War, the economic and cultural exchange between the two blocs was essentially nonexistent; now, the cooperation in economic, cultural, and educational sectors is high between the democratic world and China. This interdependence makes members of the democratic world unwilling to confront China.
Since China has been taking advantage of the democratic world’s naiveness and friendliness, it has the strongest incentive not to wake up the democratic world to face the reality that we are already in the New Cold War. This is why the CCP is very vocal in labeling the U.S. and other democracies as having a “Cold War mentality” whenever they raise concerns about the CCP’s lawless behaviors. The CCP has mobilized all its propaganda machines to denounce the “Cold War” as an evil concept. Whenever a country criticizes the CCP’s violation of human rights or unfair trade practices, the CCP wastes no time to label the country as having a “Cold War mentality.”
What surprises me is that the elites and officials of the democratic world also claim that we must avoid a New Cold War with China at all costs.
This puzzles me profoundly. Now the democratic world, including the U.S., has realized that the Chinese Communist Party wants to shape the world according to its own image. Xi Jinping declared that “Proletarians must liberate the whole world in order to liberate ourselves.” To face such an irreconcilable conflict, the New Cold War strategy, as outlined by the Heritage Foundation, provides a very effective and feasible plan to contain the expansion of Chinese communism. If we do not want to use the New Cold War strategy, our alternative, except submitting to the CCP’s rule, is to enter a hot war. Is that what the elites and politicians want? They need to use logic and recognize reality.
The goal of the New Cold War is not to destroy China. The issue is not that the U.S. does not want China to develop, as the CCP always propagates. The U.S. has been helping China develop since the 1970s when China opened up. The issue is that China, under the total control of the CCP, has become a rogue state; it is breaking world law and order, projecting its long arm into other countries, and achieving dominance in the world. The goal of the New Cold War is to stop the CCP from doing so. The U.S. must lead the democratic world in using our levers in economic, education, military, and other spheres to pressure the CCP into embracing universal values, including respect for human rights, the rule of law, and democracy.
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