Editor’s Note: From May 29, 2022, “Meizhong Stories” began to publish a weekly compilation of written commentaries on the U.S. from the Chinese government, official media outlets, think tanks, and private media platforms. It is intended to present China’s perceptions of the U.S. and U.S.-China relations in order to better understand China’s diplomatic rhetoric and policies toward the U.S., and to provide possible entry points for improving U.S.-China relations. The Chinese name of the newsletter is ‘What’s Up Again with America?’ The English name of the newsletter is the ‘China View Newsletter’. Issue #7 covers the period from July 11 to July 17, 2022.
Government (Foreign Ministry)
On July 12, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded to the statement made by the U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong in his farewell speech that “politics and social freedom in Hong Kong have even been eroded by the National Security Law.” Zhao said that more than 70 percent of Hong Kong people believe that “their freedom and rights prescribed in the Basic Law are not affected after the implementation of national security law.” Zhao also said that the mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong shows that any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability will not succeed.
On July 15, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded to Biden’s statement that the U.S. “can continue to lead in the Middle East and not allow a vacuum to be filled by China and/or Russia” saying that the masters of the Middle East are its people and should not be treated as the “backyard” of certain countries. Wang Wenbin said what China has been doing is to support the people of the Middle East to independently explore the path of development and contribute to the promotion of peace building in the Middle East.
From July 11 to July 17, the People’s Daily published four commentaries on human rights issues, condemning the U.S. for ignoring its own serious human rights problems while imposing “draconian laws” in an attempt to “dictate” human rights to China. The comments are as follows:
- “The U.S. Pays Lip Service to Human Rights, But Tramples on Them In Its Actions” (July 12). The article says the U.S. has been using force and waging wars against other countries for years, leading to “huge humanitarian disasters.”
- “Lying to Pass Evil Laws Seriously Tarnishes the Rule of Law” (July 14). The article describes the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act implemented by the U.S. as a “draconian law” based on lies and an economic bullying act imposed on China under the guise of “human rights” to maintain U.S. hegemony.
- “If the U.S. Cannot Even Protect Its Children, How Can the U.S. Have the Face to Call Itself a ‘Human Rights Defender’?” (July 15). The article reported on the shooting at a U.S. elementary school, saying that the frequency of shootings in the United States is “alarming” and that “the tragedy of the many shootings has lifted the ‘veil’ on the poor human rights situation in the United States.”
- “U.S. Government Disregards Immigrants’ Human Rights and Lives” (July 17). The article cites incidents in recent years in which the U.S. “banned asylum seekers from entering the country on the grounds of protecting public health” and “smuggled immigrants died in a cargo truck,” as examples of the U.S.’s “poor record” on immigration issues, and its disregard and violation of the human rights and fundamental rights of migrants, which has led to the recurrence of migrant tragedies.
On July 16, PLA Daily published an article titled “‘I Have Always Been Concerned About the Construction and Development of Xinjiang’ – On General Secretary Xi’s Inspection Tour in Xinjiang.” The article reported the activities and speeches of General Secretary Xi throughout his inspection and research tour in Xinjiang from July 12 to 15. According to the article, people’s hearts are the most important factor in maintaining long-term stability in Xinjiang. At the same time, the article stressed that “the Party’s strategy for governing Xinjiang is very wise and completely correct” and that “the Party’s strategy for governing Xinjiang in the new era should be implemented completely and accurately.”
On July 14, the Global Times published an article titled “White House ‘First Statement’ on China.” The article points out that the possible introduction of the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act to slow down investment between the U.S. and China by increasing scrutiny of U.S. companies’ investment in China reflects the anxiety of some U.S. politicians who fear that investment in China will undermine the integrity of the U.S. supply chain.
On July 11, guancha.cn published an article titled “The Danger of Invincibility in the West.” The author of the article, Singaporean scholar Kishore Mahbubani, pointed out that we-will-win mentality prevails in the West, and that this mentality has led to “sloppy geopolitical thinking,” while the geopolitical reality is that “the Western world still accounts for only 12 percent of the world’s population” and “the countries of the UN member states that abstained from voting on the ‘humanitarian consequences of the invasion of Ukraine’ account for more than half of the world’s population.” The article ends by emphasizing the importance of the “peace of chaos,” noting that “it would be unwise to go all out to defeat and remove Putin.”
On July 13, guancha.cn published an article titled “The Essence of the United States Is Still ‘You Can’t Resist What I Do.’” The author of the article, Jin Canrong, a professor at the School of International Relations of Renmin University of China, pointed out that “anti-China” has become the political correctness of the United States, so the U.S. government is strategically hostile to China while focusing on American interests. In addition, Professor Jin believes that the current intense ideological struggle within the U.S. and the marginalized China experts are also the main reasons for the biased perception of China in the U.S. and the focus on the “China threat theory.”
On July 11, WeChat’s public forum “China-U.S. Scholars Think Tank” published an article titled “Why Are Many People Convinced That There Will Be No War When the Signal Is So Obvious?” The article, an excerpt from a book by Zheng Yongnian, pointed out that although the current relationship between China and the United States is not so clear, many people are still convinced that there will be no war. Zheng wrote that although the current tensions between China and the U.S. are more often seen as a “new cold war” and an “economic conflict,” “the economy is about interests, and the unequal distribution of interests will lead to war.” He said that people have been influenced to some extent by liberalism, believing that “a high degree of economic dependence between countries and political democratization” have ensured “American attitudes and approaches to relations with other countries.” He argued that people overlook the “moralization” and “justification” of war by the existence of sovereign states and forget that the United States is a “war machine” driven by special interest groups, which is a very dangerous situation today when extreme “identity politics” is becoming more and more prevalent.
On July 13, WeChat’s public forum “Zhanhao” (占豪) published an article titled “America’s Big Problem! Biden is Completely Out of Tricks and Has to Beg China for Help.” The article pointed out that the severe inflation has made the economic development and social stability of the United States face great challenges, so although the United States has never stopped “smearing and suppressing China” politically and economically, it has to do everything possible to approach China in order to alleviate the difficulties caused by inflation. According to the article, China’s top priority as a “rich” country is to “accelerate its military development” because a strong military can help China defend itself against “robbers.”
On July 14, an article titled “Forecasting the Future of U.S.-China Relations” was published on WeChat’s public forum “Political Science and International Relations Forum.” The author of the article, Yuan Zheng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the future strategic competition between China and the United States will be determined by the domestic governance strategies of both countries. According to Yuan Zheng, U.S. society is currently facing many internal problems such as political polarization, immigration issues, racial tensions, and social divisions, which are difficult to solve, and their existence will greatly affect U.S. foreign policy making. Yuan Zheng wrote, “the next decade will be a turbulent and dangerous period for U.S.-China relations.” He does not think war will break out between China and the U.S., but the relationship will continue to see twists and turns, and expectations of the other side will gradually decline. Yuan Zheng noted that “when the U.S. realizes that it cannot stop China’s rise,” Sino-U.S. relations will “gradually stabilize.”
On July 15, WeChat’s WeChat public number “Buyidao”(补一刀) published an article titled “America’s Viciousness is Beyond Imagination!” According to the article, the U.S. government is “pulling out all the stops” to enact more bills to “compete” with China. The article quotes U.S. expert Lu Xiang as saying that the U.S. is now in a period of political confusion, where the general public wants the government to pay more attention to the domestic economy, while the elites think they should focus more on China. The article points out that the U.S. has nothing to do with China’s woes, but the U.S. sees China as the adversary that has caused its woes, imposing bills that are more vicious than effective. According to the article, the U.S. government needs to abandon zero-sum thinking, stop interfering and denigrating China’s domestic and foreign policies, and focus on solving its own difficulties, which is an important prerequisite for maintaining U.S.-China relations and achieving common development.
Over the past week, Chinese official media have focused their coverage and commentary on Xinjiang, reporting on General Secretary Xi’s visit to Xinjiang and his speeches, while once again expressing strong indignation and strong opposition to the U.S.’s recent implementation of the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act. On the issue of Xinjiang, the Foreign Ministry, official media, think tanks, and private media used almost the same wording such as “the so-called existence of ‘forced labor’ in Xinjiang by the U.S. is an outright lie,” and the Xinjiang issue is “a misnomer fabricated by the anti-China forces in the U.S. and the West” and is a manifestation of U.S. “gross interference in China’s internal affairs” and a conspiracy to “hinder China’s development.” In addition, a number of official media outlets published special commentaries criticizing the U.S. for its vicious social problems and its own unresolved human rights problems, which are “rampant.”
In the private media sector, geopolitics, economic conflicts, internal U.S. social tensions, and the China threat narrative were the main topics. Most reports and commentaries are pessimistic about the direction of U.S.-China relations in the coming decade, and some articles even suggest that the “new Cold War” may only be a rosy illusion of peace, and that war may break out between the two countries as the negative effects of political differences and economic conflicts intensify. Zheng Yongnian declared that although people want to stay away from war, it may be inevitable because it is “justified” and “moralized” by social Darwinism which has enabled people to believe war is the best approach for the “civilized” to destroy the “barbaric”. As the U.S. and China are attacking each other in their respective media sphere and when “China threat” permeates in U.S. decision-making circles, the future of the U.S.-China relationship is very precarious.