China claims world primacy

The bases of a peaceful coexistence of the two powers, the Chinese and the American, have ceased to exist. Until now, China did not question the world leadership of the United States, and the United States was not interested in the nature of the Chinese regime. Today, Beijing claims world primacy, and Washington continues to emphasize the authoritarian and dictatorial character of the regime.

Although it is true that there is an authoritarian tension on the part of Xi Jinping, it cannot be said that China is an open, transparent or liberal regime that has undergone a process of closure and involution. The argument of restrictions on freedoms in China exists, but it is not the real motive of the American opposition. The real reason is the rise of that country.

There is no temptation on the part of the Chinese leaders to proclaim the superiority of the Western model, on the contrary. Both models are faced with the feeling that the United States accumulates difficulties due, above all, to costly military interventions in economic terms, political prestige, as well as strategic, and that China is advancing methodically both in multilateral instances. , stupidly abandoned by Donald Trump, as in the multiplication of bilateral relations. China is already the first trading partner for some 120 countries compared to 60 for the United States.

In April 2019, in a telephone conversation between Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter, in which they discussed the problems posed by the rise of China, Carter declared: “We established diplomatic relations in 1979, when I was president. Since then, the US has always been at war; China, never ”. This is one reason (not the only one) for the Chinese recovery.

It is necessary to verify that both powers have launched an arms race and that there is no voice that proposes a new policy of arms control, moderation of behavior, creation of confidence measures that, however, were so successful in attenuating tensions. between Moscow and Washington.

The United States is not alone in worrying about the rise of China, or at least the repercussions it has on Chinese diplomacy. She is becoming more and more «assertive», sure of herself, and has difficulty avoiding overbearing temptation.

It is easy to understand the Chinese will to forget the century of humiliations, it is less acceptable to think that the century of reconstruction could or should be followed by the century of domination. Multilateralism as China conceives it has not always had the same definition as that held in other capitals.

The temptation to benefit from very favorable power relations in bilateral deals makes multiple partners uneasy. And the Asean countries, although they fear a confrontation between Beijing and Washington, believe in some cases that the maintenance of a US presence is a guarantee for the future. The risk, in the case of China, is to fall into hubris.

It is true that Beijing likes to remember that it has never been an imperialist or harbored a spirit of conquest, but has there ever been a dominant power in history that has not wanted to abuse its position? Why would China be an exception?

It is necessary to show him that by going down that route he would lose much more than he could gain. The United States seems to have chosen the path of confrontation and an arms race to maintain its dominance. Europe must be firm and available, and assert its own interests.

Copyright La Vanguardia, 2021

Look also