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"America is back," or simply swinging backward?

(Xinhua)    09:58, February 09, 2021

BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- "America is back." U.S. President Joe Biden put before the world the trademark of his administration's foreign policy last week.

It seems that the new leader in Washington is trying to restore some sense of cooperation in Washington's foreign conduct, and help solve some of the world's crucial challenges. Compared with the overbearing "going-it-alone" doctrine and all the brash bullyings of the previous U.S. administration, Biden's shift is somewhat positive.

However, Washington also seems to be returning to the track of promoting American values and imposing an America-led world order by building back the old pattern under which Washington commands while its allies follow behind.

The shifting had been a commonplace during the reign of both Democrats and Republicans over the past decades. Since former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt brought the United States onto the world stage as a global power, Washington's foreign policy doctrines have been oscillating back and forth between isolationism and expansionism along America's course to go after global supremacy.

The United States has long believed that it is the natural leader of the world. As Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote in his book "World Order," the country is destined to "shape the destiny of mankind."

Based on all the official elaborations currently available, the Biden-brand engagement is in essence to continue pursuing America's sole leadership in the world and containing, with or without an alliance, all potential challengers, such as China, "our most serious competitor," as he mentioned.

If so, such a comeback is very likely to be both infeasible and ill-timed.

On the one hand, building alliances needs trust, and fostering trust requires time. Washington's blunt trade wars, willful sanctions and self-serving coercions over the past four years have seriously damaged the credibility of the United States in the eyes of its allies. The deep scar in the bonds between Washington and European capitals is not that easy to heal.

Also, on the other side of the Atlantic, European countries have become more independent from Washington. They are not likely to follow Washington's lead as they used to. In a discussion broadcast by Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union should not gang up on China with the United States even if it stands closer to Washington by virtue of shared values.

On the other hand, Washington's bid to build a coalition based on so-called universal values will almost surely stir up fresh geo-political confrontations, if pursued, in an age when pressing global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change demand as much international cooperation as humanly possible.

The Biden administration is certainly welcome to shift away from the previous U.S. administration's foreign policy grounded in unilateralism and protectionism. Yet the new government needs to do more than repeating yesterday's therapy to cure today's problems.

Washington also needs to figure out what is the best way to preserve America's long-term interests in this age of globalization. Apparently, seeking to work with Beijing while at the same time forming a group to suppress China is not a rational approach.

Thus what the United States really needs is not pivoting backwards for its outdated quest for global dominance, but to let truly forward-looking thinking prevail in Washington's decision-making.

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

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