The anti-China hysteria of the United States: En route to a final clash?
Lionel Vairon

Editor's note: Lionel Vairon is the president of CEC Consulting company and senior researcher at the Charhar Institute of international relations and public diplomacy in Beijing. He is a former journalist (1985-1989), former diplomat (1991-2002) successively posted in Cambodia, Thailand and Iraq by the French government. He is also an author of many books and papers about China's geopolitics, international relations and Arabo-Islamic world. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Donald Trump is fearless. His hubris is progressively turning him into a dictator and into the gravedigger of U.S. democracy. Convinced that in order to win a firmly desired second term in November and to satisfy his unlimited thirst for power, he needs to show what he considers to be genuine statesmanship, which would both strengthen his electorate and appeal to other voters. Donald Trump has driven the United States to the brink of civil war and to an open conflict with China.

After a dreadful management of the pandemic, the consequences of which have been disastrous on both economic and human standpoints, the Trump administration has decided that the only viable course of action was to draw the attention to China. Consequently, the April 17 Memo of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urged Republican campaigns to focus on accusations against China instead of wasting efforts on defending the president, revealing the objective of this strategy: turn China into the main target for the 2020 electoral campaign. 

Donald Trump recently claimed that "China will do anything they can to have me lose this race" when discussing his re-election chances in November… The clearly admitted objective is to diabolize China on both national and international levels in an attempt to conceal Washington's responsibilities in both the sanitary crisis and other international crises, such as in the Middle East and in the Far East, by raising questions regarding the situations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was an extraordinary opportunity for Trump to intensify pressure against China and unite around himself his usual followers (Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom), as well as countries considering themselves as allies of the United States – Europeans – despite the lack of consideration he has shown them since his election. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has crystallized the antagonisms between Europeans and Americans on the one hand, and Chinese on the other hand. The consequences on international relations are likely to be durable in the aftermath of the crisis.

Recently, however, his anti-China hysteria has reached new heights in response to the Americans' growing distrust of their President. Consistent with his anti-multilateralism guideline, Trump has decided to denounce a purported allegiance of the WHO to Beijing, subsequently leaving the organization in which the United States accounted for 15 percent of the global budget. 

Demonstrators take part in a protest in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, United States, June 1, 2020. /Xinhua

Demonstrators take part in a protest in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, United States, June 1, 2020. /Xinhua

The WHO bashing has been persistent, leading to a clash with other member states during the 73rd World Health Assembly in May, the U.S. mission having attempted to obtain the condemnation of Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and refusing to join the commitments of the international community in favor of cooperation for the fight against the pandemic. For anyone still harboring doubts, the United States have displayed their profound contempt for international cooperation, including in one of the most critical areas of cooperation for many developing countries, health, when failing to obtain  satisfying responses to their most absurd requests.

Using all available means, the U.S. administration then tackled the Hong Kong situation with Mike Pompeo, described by American New York Times' columnist Thomas L. Friedman as the "worst secretary of state ever". In anticipation of the adoption of the national security law in Hong Kong, Pompeo announced, on Donald Trump's request, that the United States were ending the special status granted to Hong Kong, with no consideration whatsoever even for U.S. companies and investors active in this international financial center. 

The fact that sanctions against Chinese officials and businesses are being considered in response to the law perfectly illustrates the way Trump's administration envisions the world: a return to the Far West and cowboys with threats and sanctions as the only arguments… This has been Donald Trump's policy since his first day at the Oval Office, not only with his rivals (Iran, Russia, China, etc.), but also with his European and Japanese allies. Symbolic cases such as DPRK and Iran have since then proven its inefficiency.

Beyond Donald Trump's approach, the bipartisan consensus the U.S. policy towards China seems to elicit is worrisome. Regarding issues such as Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Democrats generally seem to support anti-China actions, sometimes even taking the initiative. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has recently selected and appointed a Uygur lawyer, Nury Turkel, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He replaces a Tibetan Commissioner who was in exile in the United States, confirming that China is a key target of the U.S. administration… Congress has subsequently passed a measure, on May 27 that would punish Chinese officials – again… – for their participation in the central policy regarding Xinjiang, a law which now needs to be signed by the U.S. president.

The determination to instrumentalize China in order to stay in power will certainly grow in upcoming months, especially if polls keep showing disaffection of the American voters with their leader, including among Republicans. Despite the low probability of Trump risking an armed conflict, he may use means of pressure decreasingly acceptable for Beijing. An example would be disconnecting China from the dollarized financial system, a "nuclear" option, according to certain commentators, which has been used against Iran and Russia. Although the resort to such a threat is unlikely, no one can predict the extent of the U.S. president's will to harm and, more importantly, of his complete and utter indifference towards the consequences of his actions.

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