NY Times discusses Beijing’s ‘first move’

NY Times published FU Ying’s essay on Nov 24 and named it as China’s “first move”

The New York Times explained why they published an article (NYT Nov 24) written by FU Ying, former vice-foreign minister of China (2009-13) as follows:

“… Today, we are publishing an Op-Ed by Fu Ying, a government official in China, which gives insight — in both what it says and what it doesn’t — into the thinking in Beijing in 2020.

“Ms. Fu is an important person in China’s government — much more important than her titles convey. She is among the highest-ranking women in China and generally considered a moderate.”

So far, this Op-Ed is the only official statement, beyond the usual platitudes, that has come from the government about the election of Joe Biden to the presidency, and for that reason we thought it was worth publishing.

There’s no denying that U.S.-China relations have been damaged over the past four years. Ms. Fu is setting out the terms under which her government plans to work with a new Biden administration.

Those terms, which include both veiled threats and olive branches, could have significant consequences for American foreign policy for the rest of our lifetimes. Ms. Fu believes that our militaries should be talking at the strategic level. She sees room for cooperation on climate change, public health and digital security. “To tackle these challenges, China and the United States should join hands and cooperate with all other concerned parties,” she writes. “Only then can multilateralism continue to bring hope for the betterment of humankind.”

It’s a key sentiment — the need for multilateral cooperation — and one that Biden and his team also seem committed to. At the same time, as every president since Richard Nixon could tell you, the question with China always is: at what price? ……”

The analysis is correct. Beijing is indeed offering “olive branch” as well as “veiled threats”.

FU’s essay, in short, carries three messages:

[1] China-US relationship could be both co-operative and competitive, not necessarily rivalry.

[2] While Beijing will take concrete actions to respond to Washington’s demands on such areas as protection of intellectual property, the White House should refrain from bullying Chinese corporations such as Tik Tok.

[3] China has no intention to claim global hegemony. All China wants is simply territorial integrity and better livelihood for the citizens. The world can benefit a lot if the United States is willing to work with China on such common concerns as economic stability and cyber security etc.

At least two points to note from NY Times’ move and FU’s move .

First, even though the Biden administration is not as hostile as Trump’s, the mode of China-US relation can never return to that of the 1990s-2010s.

The US foreign policy in general and the China policy in particular are not solely decided by the White House. It is, as always, masterminded by the Deep State which represents not just the two political parties’ common ideology but also the military-industrial common interests. China’s growth does cause a real threat to the United States.

Although the NY Times and the camp/faction it represents dislike China, they are anti-war. The way to slow down China’s emergence they advocate remains a peaceful one. It is why they chose to publish an “official” Chinese essay. Looking forward, the war-hawk and the pigeon will debate for a certain period. How long it takes to achieve a definite conclusion is a significant variable for the China-US dynamics.

Second, as you and everybody know, the FU article is unlikely to bring forth meaningful changes to the Deep State’s policy orientation, but it serves two purposes:

[a] It gives comfort to not merely the US anti-war camp, but also Russia and the EU that China is happy to be the ‘Number Two’ at most (if in terms of military might at global scale, China is still out of the top 3), and has no interest in confronting the U.S. directly, except on the Taiwan issue.

[b] In case Washington takes bold actions to antagonize China, Beijing hopes that the EU and other countries accept its justifications for the defensive actions (e.g. Taiwan). Such a traditional Chinese tactic 先禮後兵 can be translated as ‘Courtesy first, military to follow if that does work’.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China News.

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Categories: Politics & Law

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