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Commentary: US stands against economic globalization out of ‘jealous’ mentality

By Diao Daming (People's Daily Overseas Edition)    13:49, August 01, 2018

The US government’s withdrawal from a number of international groups and the reckless trade sanctions it launched in recent days have made the world wonder: what’s wrong with the country and why does it stand against the trend of globalization?

One of the possible answers is that the US is getting less confident. The logic behind the thought-provoking answer is that the US has lost faith in its prospects and made such arbitrary decisions for sake of self-redemption, though it should not abuse its strength and credibility as a major country.

The “lack of confidence” argument makes sense but not represents the whole thing. On one hand, the US is indeed diffident as it cannot adapt itself to the current trend of globalization, while on the other hand, its so-called “self-saving measures” not only go against its original goals and do harm to both others and itself, but also make new uncertainties for the world.

Its diffidence is a leftover of the crises the US faced in the 21st century, including the 9/11 attacks in 2001, financial crisis in 2008, and the rising tide of anti-establishment movement and populism in recent years. The real economy hollowing-out caused by the global capital flows and decreasing ratio of majorities brought by immigration worsened its plights.

Facing such challenges, the Democrats and Republicans failed to take timely countermeasures due to heated inter-party conflict. Instead, they rolled out parochial and rigid public policies to cater for special groups for more votes.

Domestic and foreign policies made under such twisted logic are not people- or nation-oriented, but specially tailored for certain groups and will change with the rotation of ruling parties.

Politicians of the two parties prefer to attribute these problems to external reasons, and pass the buck to the historical trend of economic globalization. Voters may buy such type of discourses in a short term, but in the long run, these voices, in essence a signal of confidence crisis, will fail to solve problems and meet people’s demands, and are poised to harm the national development of the US.

Its lack of confidence comes from its failure to get accustomed to economic globalization. In the past three decades or even more than a century, the US has unquestionably benefited the most from globalization, but the beneficiary is now complaining to the world that it had suffered losses from the process.

An objective conclusion is that the US did not suffer losses, but is jealous of the benefits other countries are enjoying in the globalization. Statistics indicate that emerging markets contributed over 50 percent to the global economic growth in the past decade, and the total GDP of BRICS countries was almost equivalent to that of the US.

The US cannot be the only beneficiary nor stop the stable step of economic globalization, but it still chose to challenge the international rules shared by all countries.

By forcing the others to take pills when it is sick itself, the US betrays the historical connotation and true essence of globalization though its actions cannot be considered pure de-globalization or isolationism.

Behind such actions lies its logic to use whatever that suits its interests and abandon whatever that does not. The diffident US cannot face up to a truth that it is the US who needs the world more.

The less confidence of the US is rooted in the recurrence of its “paranoid style” nature. As American historian Richard Hofstadter said in the 1960s, a certain inclination to extremely paranoid behaviors occurred periodically in the history of American politics. 

Some American elites always believe that their value system and the economy and politics of the US are potentially under unspeakable and systematic threats and the only way to deal with the threats is to hit back at all costs, even by overcorrecting and hurting themselves. 

It seems that the US needs an “illusionary enemy” all the time. Countries across the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean have been labeled by the US as enemies that must be dealt with through almost “suicidal” measures. Behind such an overreaction is not farsightedness but crazy behaviors after losing confidence.

It’s undeniable that the whole world is paying for diffidence of the US and all its actions owing to this reason, with the costs like the temporary vacuum in global governance and complication of some hotspot issues.

Such costs will last a short period, but countries around the globe should be fully prepared to this situation. Only with necessary preparations for the temporary difficulties can the world rebuild a more just, fair, peaceful and stable new order.

Diao Daming is an associate professor at the School of International Studies and a research fellow at National Academy of Development and Strategy, Renmin University of China. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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