Opinion: Coaxed by U.S., NATO's hyping of China as "challenge" costly, irrational

By Qing Ming (People's Daily Online) 13:50, July 01, 2022

NATO's arm reaches Asia (Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times)

NATO leaders and their Asian guests arrived at this week's NATO Madrid summit preoccupied with worries and woes—shared or unique. Wars. Rampant inflation. Relentless energy shortages. Declining approval rates. Gilets jaunes. A truck jammed with suffocated migrants

But somehow, beset by pressing crises at home and along their borders, the leaders from NATO member states decided to prioritize the delusional challenge they have detected elsewhere—far transcending NATO's increasingly swelling geographical range—in China. On Wednesday, NATO, stated that China "challenges our interests, security, and values," following the footstep of the military alliance's de facto leader—the U.S.

The move represents Washington's latest attempt to hype up the "China threat" and counter the world's second-largest economy on the global stage, in its despicable and desperate bid to contain China's peaceful rise. Also, by coaxing NATO members to take on China, the U.S. has proved yet again that it will spare no efforts to sustain its hegemony—by maligning China, spying on China, blacklisting Chinese companies, and now, by strategizing with its Western allies on the "China challenge" in a pivot back to Asia.

But NATO members, together with their Asian "guests," namely South Korea and Japan, should stay vigilant whenever the U.S. plays the "China card," because by blindly following Washington's lead to cry wolf over the "China threat," they risk getting themselves dragged into Washington's costly and chimerical "arms race" and may end up resolving none of the existing "non-systemic" challenges (to say nothing of the fictional and farcical "China challenge").

In his opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal headlined End of the German Idyll, published on June 27, Walter Russell Mead, an American scholar, elaborated on the many challenges Germany (a NATO member) now faces and the high price it must pay in order to acquire so-called "U.S. security guarantees."

"In recent years, the German economic miracle depended on a combination of industrial prowess, cheap energy from Russia, and access to global markets, particularly in China," he commented, adding, "Today every one of those pillars is under threat."

Mr. Mead was correct to point out that China had long been (and remains) "the ideal customer for German products," but he failed to acknowledge that the only possible threat that Germany's (mutually) beneficial economic ties with China could face would be the Biden administration's hyping up of the "China threat." Mead was also right about the astronomical price tags behind Washington's military umbrella. But the problem is: what is the umbrella for, since the rain forecast itself is faked?

Germany's optional dilemma represents only a fraction of overall China-Europe relations that the US is trying to sour and the anti-Chinese sentiments the US has intent to stoke. In a flurry of meetings, US president Joe Biden rallied the G7 countries to propose 600 billion dollars (another dishonored check?) to counter the "influence" of China's Belt and Road Initiative; meanwhile, US high-level officials have also, on multiple occasions, met with their NATO and Asian counterparts to discuss plans to counter China and in this way further cement Washington's sphere of influence in Asia.

[Related Reading: 'Asian NATO' perilous and unwanted for Asia]

NATO swallows the consequence of its expansion Illustration: Carlos Latuff

Nevertheless, the U.S. and certain NATO member states may resolve to compromise on their robust ties with China in favor of the so-called "shared values," né American values, but they ought to ask themselves a question first—aren't those values merely constraints weaponized to coerce and impede every other nation but themselves?

For years, the U.S. and certain NATO member states have portrayed China as the challenger, claiming that China has an appetite for "military expansion," and accusing China of undermining rule-based international norms and world order. But in retrospect, isn't the NATO clique of nations, led by the U.S., standing at the front of the line in its own blame game. NATO countries, after all, "bombed for peace (with China as one of the many victims)," invaded other countries and killed civilians in the name of "democracy," and continually expanded the military alliance's omnipresence in the hopes of achieving coercive aims through encirclement?

NATO's decision to paint China as a "systemic challenge" is at once damaging and irrational. It is based on a false belief that China—a nation that has no belligerence in its genes and one that has never initiated a single overseas war, a nation that in just a handful of years has witnessed a trade war, hardening military encirclement, and a worldwide smear campaign staged by the hegemonic U.S.—should be slammed as a "systemic challenge." It's no less ironic than seeing the snake stoking fear in the farmer whom it has bitten. 

(Web editor: Meng Bin, Bianji)


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