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Op-Ed: America's imperialist zero-sum thinking is the elephant in the room

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    14:08, June 18, 2019

Are China-US economic and trade relations a zero-sum game? For more than a year now, the US government has escalated economic and trade frictions with China, which has harmed the two countries' relationship and the development of the world economy. Of course, there are many problems in the China-US relationship that need to be further discussed and resolved, but America's zero-sum mentality is proving to be a very destructive force.

Some people in the United States who want a trade war with China claim that in the China-US economic and trade relationship, the United States is on the losing end of the stick. The logic goes that China threatens US economic security and even national security because the China has gained enormously from the relationship. They view the bilateral relationship and the rise of China as a zero-sum game to win. This "if you win, I lose" thinking reflects America's hegemonic mindset, and this is the real problem.

(Pixabay Photo)

Global trade is not a zero-sum game and various facts support the claim that the China-US economic and trade relationship is one of mutual benefit. As China's government white paper on China-US trade talks pointed out, since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, bilateral trade in goods has grown from less than $2.5 billion in 1979 to $633.5 billion in 2018, a 252-fold increase. Investment flows between the world's two largest economies is a two-way street, too. Over the past 40 years, two-way investment has grown from near zero to approximately $160 billion. As we can see, both sides win.

Why, then, do some Americans disregard the facts? China has gained from the bilateral relationship, but American companies and families have benefited greatly, too. Despite this, there are still some Americans who stubbornly believe that the United States is "losing" in trade with China, and they want to wage "economic warfare" against China. These people do not care about the facts. They are obsessed with zero-sum thinking, and what they really want is a world in which the United States dominates all others.

The United States has always been ruthless in its pursuit for hegemony. After the Second World War, the United States replaced Europe's former imperial powers and became the center of the capitalist world. After the Cold War, the United States became the only superpower in the world. Hegemonic thinking runs deep in American culture, and some Americans dream of global domination. In their minds, if China gains, the United States loses, even if the relationship is beneficial; if China grows strong and gets close to United States in any field, China is a threat and must be contained.

In their view, America's relationship with China is "fair" and the United States is "secure" only if the United States is the most powerful country on the planet and American hegemony is guaranteed for a long time to come. With such a zero-sum game mindset in the forefront, it is impossible to shape a normal China-US economic and trade relationship.

China has repeatedly said that it does not want to fight a trade war, but if the United States wants to fight, it will fight till the end. As Mao Zedong said a few decades ago when summing up the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea: "There is nothing to fear about US imperialism. It is just a thing. We have gained this experience, this amazing experience." He then pointed out: "The Chinese people are well organized now and no one can bully China. If anyone offends China, there will be trouble."

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

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