Is a New Cold War Emerging Between America and China?

Perceptions differ about the nature of China’s rise and whether it poses an existential threat to the US
December 10, 2019 Updated: December 10, 2019
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Commentary

Too often, history and experience open our eyes to one set of facts and yet leave us blind to others. Our experiences and the information upon which we base our judgements color our perceptions and leads us to certain biases.

That’s why nations that prepare for the next war typically apply much of the same lessons it learned from the previous one, which can be costly. Trying to avoid repeating history can, in itself, be a flaw in one’s perception. It’s important to remain informed by history, but not trapped in it.

No Reason for a Cold War?

That’s a challenge for some in assessing the threat that the United States faces from China today.

Thus, historian Melvyn Loffler, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, writes in The Atlantic recently, “The Chinese today are not seeking to destroy Americans’ way of life, as the Soviets were said to be doing in the 1940s.” He confidently concludes that there is no reason for a Cold War to emerge between the United States and China.

Loffler goes even further, claiming that “the Chinese accept fundamental aspects of our capitalist marketplace, and they have similar interests in halting climate change, fighting terrorists, and combatting pandemics.”

How does Loffler know this?

China Doesn’t Want to “Partner” With the US

Just because a Cold War scholar explains how the historical patterns of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union are much different than current political and economic frictions saturating the U.S.-China relationship, that doesn’t prove in the least that global dominance at the expense of the United States is not China’s political and economic objective.

That is, in fact, precisely the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) publicly stated goal. They’ve painted themselves into a corner by doing so, and now have to deliver on that objective.

In order to realize this, however, it will require a fundamental change in America’s position in the world, from dominant superpower to a new, lower-tier nation with diminished status. Needless to say, that assessment approximates the viewpoint of the White House, which puts it at odds with Professor Loffler and much of American academia.

Who’s right?

China Rejects Liberal Trade Model

The simple fact that there is an intense and very damaging trade war between the United States and China precisely because China does not “accept fundamental aspects of our capitalist marketplace.”

Their behavior since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000 has been in direct opposition to the open markets and free trade policies they promised to deliver.

Remember, the fundamental aspect of capitalism is the creation of wealth derived by profit-based market activity. That means leveraging the price mechanism and free flow of information for the efficient distribution of resources, capital investment and the production of the right goods in the right amount at the right or “market” price.

For the most part, the CCP has rejected these very basic aspects of capitalism. That’s understandable; for if they did, they would soon be out of power.

China’s “State Capitalism” is Mercantilism

Rather, China prefers the market share maximization strategy of mercantilism. Specifically, for 30 years, China has leveraged wage level differentials to attract Western manufacturers, and then sold its cheaper products back to the Western economies at lower prices than domestic producers can charge and remain in business. This resulted in eventual bankruptcy for thousands of Western domestic producers and expanded market share for Chinese firms.

Profits from these expanding firms are then taken by the Communist Party, and working capital for these now state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is either supplied by foreign direct investment or by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lending more and more money to firms that end up being owned by Party members, turning them into millionaires and billionaires.

What’s more telling is the “Made In China 2025” program, the stated goal of which is to realigned the world’s technology centers from the United States, Europe and Japan to China. The concurrent effect would be to destroy those nations’ research and high-tech capabilities, making the rest of the world dependent on China. The program has since been renamed, but the objective remains the same.

Not an Ally Against Terrorism or Pollution or Pandemics

As for being part of the global fight against terrorism, China is a big supplier of high tech weapons to Iran, the world’s largest exporter of state-sponsored terrorism and an avowed enemy of the United States. China is also a major importer of Iranian oil.

But what about climate change?

Is China the “crucial partner” that Loffler insists it is? No. Contrary to Loffler’s claim that China can’t be compared to the old Soviet Union, actually, it can. Both Russia and China had—and have—mostly command economies, which by definition rely on graft and corruption to function.

Because China’s economy is based almost entirely upon corruption, waste, fraud, and extreme pollution just come with the state capitalism territory. China has made little headway compared to the United States and Europe in that area.

In fact, both China and Russia are among the worst polluters in the world. Other nations where corruption rules, such as Pakistan and India, are also big polluters. Most of the world’s pollution actually comes from Asiatic nations.

As far as fighting terrorism and pandemics are concerned, the CCP has been waging political and religious terrorism against its own citizens for decades. And pandemics? Not likely, given that the opioid addiction sweeping the United States, claiming tens of thousands of young American lives every year, is fueled by Chinese fentanyl labs.

The New Cold War is Already Here

It shouldn’t be difficult to see that China is indeed waging a cold war against the United States, and has been since 2000. China is not interested in following the United States, or being subject to the rules that a global superpower imposes. The CCP’s sole objective with respect to the United States is to replace it as the sole superpower on the planet as soon as possible.

It makes much more sense to assess China’s policies on their face value based on the CCP leadership’s known intentions, China’s capabilities and the will of the Party leadership to leverage both of these to achieve their anti-U.S. objectives. All of these facts point to a sustained and dangerous effort to replace the United States in its role as the global hegemon.

This is crystal clear to the White House.

Why doesn’t academia see it?

James Gorrie is a writer and speaker based in Southern California. He is the author of “The China Crisis.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.