Editor's note: The article is an edited translation of a commentary that first appeared on the Chinese language website "Commentaries of International Affairs," on May 16. The translated version was first published on China Plus on May 17.
Steve Bannon, U.S. President Donald Trump's former chief strategist, is clearly trying to make a comeback by denouncing China as the biggest threat to the United States. More than one-and-a-half years after leaving the White House in August 2017, Bannon has written a long article outlining six reasons why China has emerged as the "greatest economic and national security threat the United States has ever faced" and inciting his former boss not to compromise on the issue of tariffs in what he described as an economic war with China.
In the article, Bannon claimed that "China has been waging an economic war against industrial democracies." But what the world has actually witnessed is that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has created one of the world's biggest economic and social platforms creating goods and services on the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration.
Bannon also claimed that the U.S.-China trade dispute is a fundamental clash, inciting Washington to continue with its punitive tariffs. Such extremely warlike thinking disregards the lessons of history that there can be no winner in a trade war. It also goes against the will of the peoples around the world.
He has also accused China of intellectual property theft, which is also groundless. In 2017, the number of China's domestic patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other types of intellectual property applications ranked first in the world. In 2018, China broke into the world's top 20 most-innovative economies to rank 17th in the Global Innovation Index list. The country has become one of the world's biggest intellectual property owners. So where has this "theft theory" come from?
Bannon's most hostile view is that China aspires to become a "global hegemonic power," which in fact reflects Bannon's own deep-seated hegemonic thinking.
At the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations which was launched on Wednesday in Beijing, President Xi Jinping said in his keynote speech that seeking goodwill with neighbors and harmony with all nations is the Chinese way of engaging with the world.
The president has repeatedly affirmed on various occasions that China will never pursue hegemony or engage in expansion no matter what stage of development it reaches and will never impose the tragic experience that it has itself experienced on other nations. The idea of creating a community of shared future for mankind proposed by President Xi is aimed at jointly promoting development, maintaining security, participating in governance, and sharing the benefits. The concept that a cause should be pursued for common good must surely be alien to those U.S. politicians who pursue a policy of America First.
Far-right American politicians such as Bannon have been defaming China, heralding the return of the specter of McCarthyism from the 1950s. Meanwhile, alt-right politicians have also sought to make China a scapegoat for the failure of Washington's economic policies.
They've been attempting to mislead the public with the idea that Sino-American trade frictions, actually a normal thing between two countries, are the result of irreconcilable conflicts of values and a clash of different civilizations. They are champing at the bit for a war between the United States and China to achieve their own aims and ambitions and to spread their political activities.
On Wednesday, a number of U.S. senators announced that they had submitted a bill to Congress prohibiting the granting of visas to those who are working at or are sponsored by China's military research institutions to reduce so-called U.S. security risks. On the same day, the White House also declared a national emergency, banning American companies from using telecoms equipment made by foreign firms which potentially could pose a national security risk to the U.S., a move widely believed to target China's tech firm Huawei.
In a highly globalized world, it's quite incomprehensible that the world's most developed country, which has super strength in its science and technology, military and economy, is so suspicious of danger at the slightest sound that it has to shut the door to the outside world. The demon actually lies within. It's only the United States that is in a position to defeat itself. It is those new rightists with the zero-sum mindset that truly pose the biggest threat to the United States. It is the neo-McCarthyist politicians such as Bannon that the American people should really be afraid of.
President Xi once suggested that pursuing protectionism was no different from locking oneself in a darkened room. You can shut out the wind and rain, but you also obscure the light and air. As Washington's darkened room becomes increasingly tightly sealed, the end result can only be suffocation.
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