During the economic crisis in 2008, the United States sought China’s aid. US treasury secretary Hank Paulson conferred with Chinese officials, and China agreed to increase the value of the RMB and to stop selling US T-bills which it had been doing at that time.
Paulson said, “It is clear that China accepts its responsibility as a major world economy that will work with the United States and other partners to ensure global economic stability.” But the notion that China was acting in a selfless fashion was also dispelled by Paulson who stated China helps when it is in their own interest.
Paulson depicted the US position during the crisis as “dealing with Chinese from a position of strength…”
That same attitude was repeated by the US State Department in March 2021 during the first face-to-face meeting with president Joe Biden’s administration in Anchorage, Alaska: “America’s approach will be undergirded by confidence in our dealing with Beijing — which we are doing from a position of strength — even as we have the humility to know that we are a country eternally striving to become a more perfect union.” [emphasis added]
Given the baleful US shenanigans against China, Chinese high-ranking officials were ill-disposed to meet with their American counterparts. Chairman Xi Jinping was not interested in meeting with Biden after the US shot down a Chinese weather balloon. The Pentagon sought a meeting between defense secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s minister of national defense Li Shangfu, but the latter reportedly ghosted Austin in Singapore.
Finally, secretary of state Antony Blinken managed to secure a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing. The official readouts for each country, however, reveal a monstrous gap between them.
The Chinese readout noted that “China-U.S. relations are at their lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic ties…” Other excerpts read:
China has always maintained continuity and stability in its policies towards the United States, fundamentally adhering to the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping. These principles should also be the shared spirit, bottom line, and goal that both sides uphold together.
Qin Gang pointed out that the Taiwan question is at the core of China’s core interests, it is the most significant issue in China-U.S. relations, and it is also the most prominent risk. China urges the U.S. side to adhere to the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. Joint Communiqués, and truly implement its commitment not to support “Taiwan independence”.
That the US and China were not on the same page was clear from the oft-heard banality in the American readout:
The Secretary made clear that the United States will always stand up for the interests and values of the American people and work with its allies and partners to advance our vision for a world that is free, open, and upholds the international rules-based order.
That the US side made no comment on China’s core interest was a glaring brush off. Instead the US side pushed its “international rules-based order,” which is about rules defined by the US for others to follow. In other words, China does not decide what rules apply to its province of Taiwan.
The readouts made crystal clear that China and the US view the world through different lenses.
China is about peaceful development and win-win trade relations. The US is about waging war, sanctions, bans on trading, and an immodest belief in its indispensability. Because of this, China and Russia with the Global South are each forging their own way, a way that respects each country’s sovereignty. In future, it will be increasingly difficult for the US to use loans to impoverish other nations and plunder their wealth through the IMF’s financial strictures. Sanctions, freezing assets, and blocking financial transactions through the SWIFT system have pushed countries away and toward de-dollarization, joining BRICS, taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative, and using other financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank based in Beijing. Even companies in countries nominally aligned with the US are pulling back from the harms of adhering to US trading bans. The US pressure tactics have resulted in blowback, and there is sure to be growing apprehension within empire.
The US is a warmaker. It flattened Iraq, Libya, and would have done the same to Syria had not Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah intervened at the invitation of the Syrian government. Nevertheless, the US still illegally occupies an enormous chunk of Syria and plunders its oil, revealing its true nature to the world.
China is a peacemaker; for example, the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, the Syrian-Arab League reunion, a ceasefire between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, a proposal for peace between Russia and Ukraine that was rejected by the US, and currently China is playing an honest broker to try and solve the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, something the US has failed miserably at solving (not that it was ever interested in solving this besides, perhaps, a brief interregnum under Jimmy Carter).
China has stood steadfastly with Russia during its special military operation in Donbass and Ukraine. China knows that if the US-NATO would succeed in their proxy war, the plan is “regime change” and a carve up of Russia to exploit its resource wealth. This would pave the way for further “regime change” in China.
The Blinken-Qin meeting has been an abysmal failure in diplomacy. Communist China is ascendant, and the capitalist US is in economic decline, but it still believes that it can bully and fight its way to the top by keeping the others down.
Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com.