On June 15, 2018, the U.S. government released a list of Chinese imports subject to additional tariffs, imposing an additional 25 percent duty on approximately $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. In retaliation, on June 16, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that it would impose 25 percent tariffs on 659 types of U.S. goods, worth roughly $50 billion. The two sides formally started a trade war and a deteriorating relationship. Tensions have intensified following the Hong Kong turmoil and the CCP virus and finally led to the all-out cold war between the United States and China.
The CCP’s diplomatic attitude towards the United States was initially tit-for-tat and reciprocal countermeasures. Halfway through it was the uproarious “wolf warrior” diplomacy, followed by an essay published on Aug. 7 by Yang Jiechi, member of the powerful Politburo and China’s top diplomat. The United States remained indifferent, and the CCP’s “peace treaty” strategy failed.
The CCP seemed to have finally understood the United States’ hardlined stance and has begun to adjust its strategy. Recently, there were two actions that deserve attention.
State-run newspaper Global Times launched the results of an online survey, U.S.-China Relations Questionnaire, that was polled from August 10 to 11. More than 140,000 people participated in the vote, according to the news report.
About 96 percent of participants tended to have negative impressions of the United States, and 98 percent of participants believed that the “attacks” on the CCP was to “incite disharmony” between Chinese people and the CCP. More than 97 percent of participants supported the regime’s countermeasures to “counter U.S. provocation,” according to Global Times.
It cited an expert who commented that the United States is the “biggest troublemaker” based on the poll results; the expert also claimed that this consensus among Chinese people represented “firm support” for the Chinese government’s policies toward the United States.
If it were purely an ordinary poll, the Global Times’ propaganda work should have come to an end. But this is only the first half of the CCP’s show, and the second half has to continue.
At a regular press briefing of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 11, reporters at Global Times asked officials about the results of the poll. Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian obviously came prepared. “The poll you have done is very good,” Zhao said bluntly. “I also noticed the poll results. I suggest that the United States should also take a look.”
Zhao said that he hoped “certain Americans” would pay attention to the fact that Chinese people are clear about their “ill intentions” to undermine U.S.-China relations and create division. Zhao said that the “perverse actions” of these Americans will only make the Chinese people more united and firmer in their patriotism.
He further urged them to “recognize the situation, face the reality, correct mistakes,” and “discard the fantasy of reforming China.”
Zhao’s remarks brought an end to the drama and fully exposed the CCP’s true intentions in issuing that Global Times poll.
We can’t help asking, in a country with internet monitored and controlled by police, troll armies, and censorship, what is the credibility of a poll run by the Party’s media, and the authenticity of the 140,000 online participants? Can they really represent the total population of 1.4 billion Chinese?
We know that when asking someone to judge a matter, the person ought to be informed of the true situation and background of the matter in advance without being misled or pressured.
So, in China, where the media is ruled by one Party and full of false information, how many of these 140,000 participants really understand the reasons for the deterioration in U.S.-China relations? How many of them get to express their wishes freely? How many people’s opinions cannot be put on the table because of censorship and political correctness?
To put it bluntly, this so-called poll is just routinely coerced “public opinion.” The Party intended to fool Chinese people in the name of patriotism.
‘Implementing’ the Trade Agreement
I believe this summer’s Beidaihe conclave is focused on U.S.-China relations and factional infighting on relevant issues.
The particular complexity of the U.S.-China relationship is that current Party leaders and cadres are worried about how to preserve or lose as little as possible the huge assets that they have transferred overseas. After all, the United States recently sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials for human rights violations, freezing their U.S. assets and barring Americans from doing business with them.
The CCP may have realized that it is no longer possible to seek peace. They must offer something concrete.
In July, China made its largest-ever purchases of U.S. corn and soybeans.
On Aug. 14, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed a State Council decree to publish a decision on intellectual property-related violations. One of the key U.S. demands during trade negotiations was for Beijing to stop its IP theft practices.
The decree stated that suspected IP crimes should be further investigated by police and other security organs.
We still don’t know what was discussed among Party elite at the Beidaihe conclave, and it’s unclear what cards Chinese leader Xi dealt.
But the large U.S. agricultural purchases and the State Council’s decision both reveal a trend— that is, the CCP wants to take a more conciliatory stance.
In order to further show goodwill to the United States, the CCP is likely to take other actions in the future, such as making more concessions in terms of IP protection and ending currency manipulation.
But, please always remember, this is just a tactic out of many tactics the CCP uses for its own survival. It will appear to make changes, but never change fundamentally. It will never become good.
As President Richard Nixon wrote in 1967, “The world cannot be safe until China changes.”
And as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in 2020: “If the free world doesn’t change, communist China will surely change us.”
As The Epoch Times wrote in the 2004 editorial series, “Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party”: “History tells us never to believe any promises made by the CCP, nor trust that any of the CCP’s commitments will be fulfilled. Believing the words of the Communist Party—no matter what the issue may be—will cost one’s life.”
Shan Fengchen is an independent scholar who specializes in studying the history of the Chinese Communist Party.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.