As Beijing and Washington are engaged in intensive efforts to iron out their trade disputes, a U.S. policy-planning official renewed the controversial “clash of civilizations” idea in formulating China policy, igniting harsh rebukes and criticism from home and abroad.
U.S. State Department Director of Policy Planning Kiron Skinner analogized late last month at a security forum the unfolding China-U.S. competition to “a clash of civilizations,” claiming it’s “the first time we will have a great-power competitor that is not Caucasian.”
The outrageous and outdated Cold-War racial rhetoric reflects the growing anxiety and wild overreactions among some Washington politicians on how to face a rising China.
While we can’t ignore cultural and ideological differences between the world’s two largest economies, their divergence should not be overstated and twisted.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a news briefing on May 2 that “it is simply absurd and utterly unacceptable to look at China-U.S. relations from a clash-of-civilizations or even racist perspective.”
The past and the present have fully attested that China and the United States stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation.
Over the past 40 years, cooperation and exchanges have largely been the mainstream threads in China-U.S. relations, which have been proven beneficial and fruitful to the people on both sides of the Pacific.
What Skinner and like-minded people are trying to do is to amplify China-U.S. differences with a racial and clash-of-civilization bias and thus make excuses for confrontation. It’s dangerous and irresponsible and runs counter to the world’s trend of peace and development.
Recent rational comments on China-U.S. relations from veteran U.S. diplomats such as Charles W. Freeman Jr. have already proved the absurdity of Skinner’s idea.
“Knowledge does not come from locking yourself up in a room and thinking by yourself. It comes from exchanges with other people,” he told Xinhua recently. Freeman said, “It’s much more useful to concentrate on finding things you can agree about than on the differences.”
Instead of bearing antagonism or confrontation in mind, policymakers in Washington need to join hands with China to foster a form of responsible cooperation and competition, or “Responsible Coopetition.”