The “China threat” theory is not new. Its recent resurgence reflects the growing anxiety in the West over China’s peaceful rise in a fast-changing world.
Some US National Security Council officials urged the Donald Trump administration to centralize its 5G mobile network to “counter the threat of China spying on phone calls”, inviting opposition from US communications regulators, wireless companies and many lawmakers.
And earlier last month, some Australian politicians criticized China for providing loans to Pacific island countries on unfavorable terms, yet they were strongly rebuked by officials from those very island countries. Other Western countries such as Germany, France and Italy are also trying to more strictly scrutinize investments from China.
Instead of putting China under a microscope to determine the “level of threat” it poses, the Western powers should find new prescriptions to revitalize themselves and overcome their sense of loss in an interdependent world in the face of China’s fast development.
For decades, elites in the West have believed that the Western-style democratic political system combined with a free market economy is the best form of governance.
Since the end of the Cold War, the US-led “liberal world order”, which to the West is ideal for global governance, has enjoyed uncontested superiority in every domain. But now, as Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, said, the US has returned to “the Cold War-era inertia”, seeing a world full of threats rather than opportunities.
Now, the West-dominated world order that has existed for more than 200 years needs to be refashioned. The rise of China, whose political, economic and ideological systems are different from those of the West, has unsettled many. Western countries are, in one way or another, uncomfortable with their own illusion that some other country is going to take their place and replace the “old set of rules” with its own.
But the China skeptics need to understand that China has no intention of pulling down the existing world order and building a new one based on its own propositions. What China wants to do is to shoulder its share of responsibilities as a major country, work together with other countries to improve global governance and make it serve not just the Western powers but all other countries as well.
At the World Economic Forum last month in Davos, Switzerland, China clearly stated its determination to stay on the track of reform and opening-up, saying bolder reform measures will create more opportunities for the rest of the world.
More than two centuries ago, the West managed to become the global leader by applying the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution to the rest of the world. History progresses with the times. So the West needs to stop looking at China through ideological lenses, and embrace a positive-sum mentality and the spirit of openness.
The authors are writers with Xinhua News Agency.