Tono Buddhist pilgrims, the Tiger Pagoda of Tanzhe Temple is a miraculous monument. They believe the pagoda on Beijing’s pine-covered West Hills marks the grave of a tiger that, moved by the monks’ piety, gave up killing and moved into the monastery, where it lived on porridge without meat. When Chaser saw the tomb on a recent hike, he thought it was a very useful metaphor. The vegetarian tiger could serve as a symbol of a strong but non-threatening China that the US once sought as a partner but now seems like a naive dream to many in Washington.
For about 40 years before the election of Donald Trump, successive presidents insisted that America welcomed the rise of China—or at least of a China that is “peaceful and prosperous and that supports international institutions”, to quote George W. Bush in 2006. A few years later, Barack Obama directly addressed many in China’s concerns that the United States wanted to suppress their homeland. When hosting visiting Chinese leader Hu Jintao at the White House, he declared: “I absolutely believe that China’s peaceful rise is good for the world and for the United States.” Indeed, welcome is always conditional. In the same joint appearance, Obama said his support for China’s rise has strengthened regional security and strengthened international norms and rules as a “responsible player on the world stage”. He provides examples. China would be a welcome partner in efforts to prevent rogue states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. A growing China can help poor countries in Africa and Asia join the global economy. In addition, he told Mr. Hu: “We want to sell you all kinds of things.”
Today, those guarantees are like relics from another era. President Joe Biden has avoided Trump-style rhetoric about China, but has retained many of the tariffs and trade restrictions put in place by his predecessor. He also banned the export of advanced technology that could help the People’s Liberation Army (People’s Liberation Army) to build world-class weapons or AI (artificial intelligence) system. The United States is preparing to impose new controls on investment in and out of China.
Once, the president of the United States talked about shaping China’s rise. They boldly predict that the growing middle class will surely begin to demand personal liberty, or at least a greater say in the workings of their one-party state. In contrast, the Indo-Pacific strategy released by the Biden administration last year adopted a nonchalantly defensive tone. The strategy speaks of responsibly managing competition with the People’s Republic of China while working with allies and friends to defend shared interests and values.It then goes on to say: “Our aim is not to change China Rather, it shapes the strategic environment in which it operates. ”
The former hope has been replaced by fear. China has been branded a threat to peace in Asia as it seeks to intimidate the democratic island nation of Taiwan into submitting to Beijing’s rule. China’s growing economic and diplomatic influence in Africa, Asia or Latin America is seen as empowering dictators and undermining liberal democracies. In violent terms, the bipartisan consensus in Washington now sees China as a predatory power whose threatening nature will not be altered by pious preaching.
For Communist leaders, America’s shift in strategy is an attack. In a speech to Chinese business representatives in March, top leader President Xi Jinping accused Western countries, led by the United States, of containing and suppressing China “in all directions”. Moreover, his newly promoted foreign minister, Qin Gang, even denounced Americans talking about responsible competition as a trick. Mr Qin pushed back on Biden’s words, saying the US president’s call to build “guardrails” in bilateral relations and avoid conflict “effectively means that China should not respond in words or actions when it is slandered or attacked”.
For its part, the Biden administration has dismissed allegations that it is bent on total containment of China. In public, the president and senior officials have called on China to play a constructive role on global issues such as climate change, food security, public health and the flow of deadly drugs. Privately, it is believed that China will become an economic giant and a formidable regional military power. But leaders in Washington aim for continued military dominance by the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific. To be clear, the logic of export controls and investment reviews is to stop American technology and money from powering America. People’s Liberation Army to an unrivaled position.
two tigers one mountain
The United States once expressed conditional welcome to China’s overall rise. Now, that welcome is highly selective. Some forms of Chinese economic power and influence are seen as potentially benign if they support certain global public goods. Other forms of Chinese influence are openly viewed as a threat that needs to be diminished. This challenges China’s claim to a world order based on a balance of great powers.In the words of Zhou Bo, a retiree People’s Liberation Army Now the senior colonel of Tsinghua University’s Center for International Security and Strategic Studies says that only when “China and the United States have equal military power in the Asia-Pacific region” can there be stability.
Tsinghua University professor Dawei created his own animal figures to explain how his country’s leaders feel.”It’s only natural for a country to want to be strong, like a tiger,” he said. “But us Not reconciled to China becoming a tiger. America wants China to be a cat, maybe a fat cat.It wants to pull out our teeth, like artificial intelligence Or high-end semiconductors that could empower China’s industrial development and military capabilities. ”
America’s new vision of coexistence is not all about total containment, nor is it all about total decoupling. But it does involve seeking to contain China’s coercive power, whether Beijing’s rulers like it or not. Americans’ distrust of Mr Xi’s hubris is understandable. The same goes for China’s hostile response. As such, an intense power contest in the coming years seems inevitable. After all, no tiger would choose to be neutered.■
Read more from our China columnist Chaguan:
The charm of cities with the lowest prices in China (March 22)
Why Chairman Mao’s Victims Don’t Get Justice (March 16)
What Party Control Means in China (March 9)
Another: How did the teahouse column get its name