The Biden administration’s efforts of bringing allies together to fight the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seems to be working. During the Cultural Revolution, the CCP’s diplomacy experienced a major failure. It seems the Red Guards generation (the current CCP leaders) are in power today, so I’m afraid a repeat of the diplomatic debacle is inevitable.
The Red Guard’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy has led to irrational actions that will surely lead to serious consequences around the world. In recent years, the CCP’s perception of the world and of itself has entered a near pathological stage. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been carrying out his anti-corruption campaign within the Party. Outside the Party, he has been suppressing freedom-minded intellectuals, suppressing ethnic minorities, and further tightening control of public opinion and freedom of speech. Internationally, Xi has sought to expand China’s influence aggressively. This is almost identical to the behavior of Mao Zedong before the Cultural Revolution.
As long as there was Mao Zedong, the emergence of the Red Guards was only a matter of time.
During the U.S.-China talks in Alaska on March 18, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi took a strong stance. Not only did he deflect the U.S. side’s criticism of the CCP’s human rights violations, but he also fought back by accusing the United States of “slaughtering black people.” Yang said that American values do not represent the West and the world.
But Yang was proven wrong when the European Union on March 22 announced sanctions against four officials and one institution involved in human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.
The CCP immediately retaliated by announcing sanctions against the EU. The CCP’s sanctions list includes 10 Europeans, including five members of the European Parliament and members of the Dutch and Belgian parliaments, along with four institutions that have criticized the CCP—the Political and Security Committee of the European Council, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Mercator Institute for China Studies in German, and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in Denmark.
Sanctions and counter-sanctions have triggered tensions between Europe and the CCP. As far as I can remember, such a situation has not occurred in Sino-European relations since the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.
On March 24, eight EU countries had summoned or were about to summon China’s ambassadors in response to Beijing’s counter-sanctions measures.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde protested against the CCP’s retaliation and called the sanctions “unacceptable.”
The situation in France is more intense. France summoned Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye on March 24 with regards to the counter-sanctions on European officials and scholars, and the insults and threats made by the CCP against French parliamentarians and a scholar.
In February, Lu sent a letter to the French Parliament pressuring French senators not to visit Taiwan. The letter caused a backlash. The French government stressed that “French senators are free to meet whomever they wish when they travel,” and the CCP has no right to interfere. Scholars reacted even more strongly, criticizing the CCP’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy. Soon after, the website of the Chinese ambassador in France published an article which stated that the “wolf warrior” diplomacy is due to the existence of too many mad dogs and it berated a prominent French China scholar, Antoine Bondaz, and called him “petite frappe” (variously translated as a little hoodlum or small-time thug).
France then summoned Lu, but he declined and gave an excuse that he was “unavailable.” But as tensions escalated between China and Europe, Lu was called in on March 24.
Beijing took actions as well. The CCP summoned the British Ambassador to China, Caroline Elizabeth Wilson, to protest against the UK, following European sanctions against four officials and one institution involved in the Xinjiang issue. Beijing also summoned the EU representative in Beijing to protest against the European sanctions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, at a press briefing on March 24, reacted to the summoning of China’s ambassadors by several EU countries. Hua criticized the EU for exercising “double standards” and claimed that China “does not provoke or fear trouble and will not be extorted.”
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said China chose to retaliate instead of changing its policies and addressing the legitimate concerns of the EU countries. China’s counter-sanction measures are “regrettable and unacceptable,” he said.
Borrell once again reiterated that the CCP’s countermeasures would not shake the EU’s decision to continue defending human rights, and that the response from the UK, the United States, and Canada to EU sanctions against China was “perfectly” coordinated.
After Yang Jiechi’s belligerent statement in Alaska, the CCP media highlighted that China has risen to power. Unlike the situation 120 years ago when foreign troops invaded China as a result of the Boxer Rebellion, China now has the strength to deal with foreign countries. In 1900, eight countries sent an army to Beijing in order to rescue their diplomats besieged in China. In 1901, the Qing imperial government admitted defeat to the eight countries and paid 4.5 billion taels of silver—in reality, it was the Chinese people who paid for it.
US Works With Allies to Counter CCP
This time, before the words of the CCP propaganda were fully lashed out, a 30-nation coalition emerged. With 27 countries in the European Union, plus the United States, Canada, and Australia, the world’s most powerful political, economic, and military alliance is taking shape— and the focus is on a single target: the Chinese Communist Party.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited NATO and the EU on March 23 and 24 to address the CCP’s coercive behavior. He called for NATO to stand together when Beijing threatens one of the alliance’s members.
“There’s no question that Beijing’s coercive behavior threatens our collective security and prosperity and that it is actively working to undercut the rules of the international system and the values we and our allies share,” Blinken said after holding two days of consultations with NATO allies. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is an alliance made up of 30 member nations.
After completing talks with NATO foreign ministers, Blinken said he hopes to work with U.S. partners on “how to advance our shared economic interests and to counter some of China’s aggressive and coercive actions, as well as its failures, at least in the past, to uphold its international commitments,” according to The Associated Press (AP).
“When we are acting together, we are much stronger and much more effective than if any single one of us is doing it alone,” he said to reporters, pointing out that the United States alone accounts for about 25 percent of global GDP, but up to 60 percent with its allies in Europe and Asia. “That’s a lot harder for Beijing to ignore,” Blinken said.
What’s more noteworthy is NATO’s position. AP reported that Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said that the rise of the CCP has a direct impact on European security. Stoltenberg warned that China “doesn’t share our values.”
“You can see that in the way they behave in Hong Kong, how they suppress opposition in their own country but also the way they are undermining the rules-based order,” he said.
The United States has improved relations with NATO and Europe, persuaded South Korea to increase its contributions to the U.S. military in South Korea, and strengthened the foundation of the Indo-Pacific alliance formed by the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a few days ago that the countries that target the CCP only account for 11 percent of the world’s population, so they do not represent the world, and China does not care. As of 2020, the population of the EU was nearly 450 million, 331 million in the United States, around 25 million in Australia, around 38 million in Canada—that’s over 800 million, while China has 1.4 billion. This is what Hua meant.
According to the plan between the United States and NATO, this alliance also includes Japan and India. The two countries have a total population of nearly 1.6 billion. And if you add that figure with the population of the EU, the United States, Australia, and Canada, the situation is completely different.
The CCP is repeating its history of diplomatic failures during the Cultural Revolution. In 1967, Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution, which plunged mainland China into great chaos. In particular, the Red Guards wreaked havoc, not only in mainland China, but also in diplomacy.
The Red Guards burned down the British representative office and stormed the embassies of three or four other countries in Beijing. Chinese diplomats and students abroad also embarked on a global Cultural Revolution, engaging in serious clashes with many countries. China’s relations with many countries were rapidly downgraded or even broken at the time.
According to a book written by Ma Jisen, a CCP diplomat, by 1970, 40 of the 53 countries that had established formal or close-to-formal diplomatic relations with Beijing were in dispute with the latter and many had broken off diplomatic ties.
It was former U.S. President Richard Nixon and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who came to the CCP’s rescue. The United States accepted the CCP into the Cold War’s anti-Soviet camp in order to deal with the Soviet Union.
This time, there is no more Soviet Union. But the Red Guards are still present, and they are even more aggressive, and they happen to be in power.
I can almost hear the Red Guards’ battle hymn from the speeches of Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi, Zhao Lijian, and Hua Chunying—“We dare to criticize and struggle, and smash everything in the old world.”
Mao Zedong once said, “There’s no making without breaking.” It means that if you don’t crush the old system, the new one will not emerge. Only this time, I’m afraid that they can only crush themselves and not others.
Alexander Liao is a columnist and journalist in research on international affairs in the United States, China, and Southeast Asia. He has published a large number of reports, commentaries, and video programs in newspapers and Chinese financial magazines in the United States and Hong Kong.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.