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The present danger haunting US-China relations is Cold War relics

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    08:28, July 23, 2019

Recently, The New York Times reported that "a new Red Scare" is reshaping Washington. The report is in response to a group in Washington that has revived a Cold War-era organization to take aim at China, which its members claim is a threat bent on destroying the United States.

The Committee on the Present Danger: China, or CPDC, has not only labeled China the enemy but hopes to start a new Cold War with China. The emergence of the fringe group underscores the fear gripping Washington and the danger of fanning the flames of fear and paranoia.

While the committee claims to take no ideological point of view, it clearly aims to demonize and attack China for taking its own path. Members of the committee, including people like Steve Bannon, who has played a leading role in reviving the Cold War relic, believe that China is "an existential and ideological threat" to the United States and that conflict is destined.

Bannon, a former advisor to the current US president, is well-known for his radical politics and desire to wage an ideological war against China. On the China-US relationship, Bannon believes that China and America are "incompatible" and that the two sides are locked in a zero-sum game for supremacy, saying that "one side is going to win, and one side is going to lose."

If this all sounds like something ripped from the pages of Cold War history, it is. The Committee on the Present Danger was first set up in the 1950s. It later disbanded but the group returned to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Committee on the Present Danger: China, which has recently been revived with the help of Bannon, is its latest iteration, and its members seem hell-bent on challenging China.

The committee is a dangerous step back into the period of intense competition between the United States and the Soviet Union for global supremacy. It has become more visible in recent months, but it still is a fringe group with little to no real power in Washington, and most do not buy into their ideas. However, there should be real concern that the constant labeling of China as an enemy or threat could set a self-fulfilling prophecy in motion that would have disastrous consequences for the world.

Earlier this month, members of the scholarly, foreign policy, military, and business communities, overwhelmingly from the United States, warned about the danger of treating China as the enemy. The signatories of the open letter to US President Donald Trump and members of Congress made it clear that, in their opinion, China is not an economic enemy or an existential national security threat. They also warned against US efforts to treat China as the enemy and decouple it from the global economy and called the fear of China exaggerated.

The emergence of radical anti-China discourse in Washington is troubling and the rises of fringe groups and others who seek to smear China and label China an enemy or an existential threat to the United States pose a real danger to the health of the China-US relationship. In a sense, they are a menace to the world, and the problem seems to be ignorance and failure to understand China.

Just recently, Amy Hess, head of the FBI Cyber Division, warned business executives that China's goal is to become "the world's dominant superpower," Fortune reported. Her remarks echo the words of far-right nationalists like Bannon, who are on a mission to promote a populist-nationalist ideology around the world. Even the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, has gone to the extreme of labeling Chinese society a threat.

This does not paint a scary picture of China. It paints a scary picture of a growing number of people in Washington who refuse to understand China and who look at China's rise and the China-US relationship through a distorted Cold War-era lens. Improving the China-US relationship is mission impossible if the message is to be very afraid of China and the Chinese people.

Some people say that people fear what they do not understand and hate what they cannot conquer. If that is the case, then groups like the committee in Washington fear China because they do not understand it and hate China because they cannot conquer it. But for those in Washington who are stuck in a Cold War mentality, there is another option: understand China and work with China to build a new model of major country relationship. After all, the vast Pacific Ocean is big enough accommodate both China and the United States.

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

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