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Reality Check: Falsehoods in US Perceptions of China

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recently delivered a speech at Asia Society outlining the US administration’s approach to China. With carefully calibrated language, he sought to promote the “China threat” narrative, interfere in China’s internal affairs, and smear China’s domestic and foreign policy, all in an attempt at full-blown containment and suppression of China.

In what is to follow, we will use facts and figures to show to the world how deceptive, hypocritical and dangerous the US’s China policy is.

Falsehood 1: China poses the most serious long-term challenge to the international order and is undermining it. The US will defend the international law, agreements, principles, and institutions that maintain peace and security, and protect the rights of individuals and sovereign nations.

Reality Check: What the US has constantly vowed to preserve is a so-called international order designed to serve the US’s own interests and perpetuate its hegemony. The US itself is the largest source of disruption to the actual world order.

◆ China has been and always will be a defender of the international order. China is a founding member of the United Nations (UN) and the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter. China is committed to upholding the UN-centered international system, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations built on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence jointly championed by China, India and Myanmar have been widely recognized by the international community and have become the basic norms guiding state-to-state relations.

China upholds true multilateralism and global strategic stability. China is the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the second largest contributor among all countries to the UN peacekeeping budget. China has taken an active part in international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes. It has signed or acceded to more than 20 multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation treaties, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). China is against arms race.

In the wake of the international financial crisis of 2008, China adopted a responsible macro policy, remained a “stabilizer” for the world economy and made important contribution to global recovery. China actively provides international public goods to various countries, and has signed BRI cooperation agreements with 149 countries and 32 international organizations.

◆ In recent years, President Xi Jinping’s vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind has been warmly received by the international community. It has been written into multiple important documents issued by the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other multilateral institutions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres hailed China as an important pillar for multilateralism, noting that the purpose for practicing multilateralism is to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Peter Thomson, president of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, said the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind advocated by China is the only future for humanity on this planet.

In response to various new global challenges, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI). They represent China’s proposals for making the global governance system fairer and more equitable, and have received positive response and wide support from the international community.

◆ The US has blatantly violated the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the norms governing international relations. With its military might, the US has launched wars in numerous parts of the world, stoking divisions and conflicts and bringing huge turmoil and disaster to the world. Throughout the 240-plus-year history of the US, there were only 16 years in which the US was not at war. The US might as well be called the most belligerent country in the history of the world. US magazine The National Interest quoted Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation, who wrote that the US consistently needed to deploy military force every 15 years or so.

Since the end of World War II, the United States has either launched or participated in many wars overseas, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Afghan War and the Iraq War. Those wars caused extremely severe civilian casualties and property losses, and lead to colossal humanitarian disasters. Since 2001, US wars and military operations in the name of counterterrorism have killed more than 900,000 people, about 335,000 of whom were civilians, injured millions and displaced tens of millions.

◆ The US habitually puts its domestic law above the international law, and selectively applies international rules as it sees fit. Since the 1980s, the US had once withdrawn from 17 international organizations and treaties, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Paris Agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Treaty on Open Skies.

Although the current US administration declared that “America is back” and the US has rejoined some international organizations and agreements, the administration has in essence not abandoned the “America First” policy, and is advancing “selective multilateralism”. The current administration has stayed out of institutions and agreements considered harmful to US interests such as the Treaty on Open Skies. European media have described it as “America First 2.0”.

◆ The US has abused its financial hegemony and technological clout and engaged in economic coercion in the name of protecting national security. The US has enacted some domestic laws, such as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and issued a series of executive orders to target and sanction specific countries, entities or individuals. The ambiguous rules contained in these acts and executive orders, such as the “minimum contacts principle” and “doctrine of effects”, are a willful expansion of the jurisdiction of US domestic laws. The US also abuses its domestic channels of prosecution to exercise long-arm jurisdiction over entities and individuals in other countries.

For more than 60 years, in total disregard of the many resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the US has continued its comprehensive blockade against Cuba based on its embargo policies and domestic laws such as the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Act. The Cuba blockade is the longest and cruelest systemic trade embargo, economic blockade and financial sanctions in modern history. The blockade has been gravely detrimental to Cuba’s economic and social development, causing over 100 billion US dollars of direct losses to Cuba’s economy.

The US has carried out blockade and sanctions against Iran since late 1970s. In May 2018, the US government announced its unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, and soon after resumed and expanded sanctions against Iran. Many countries and relevant entities have been forced to give up their cooperation with Iran. A large number of foreign oil enterprises left the country. Iran’s manufacturing industry can hardly sustain normal operation. The country has suffered economic slowdown, coupled with heightened inflation and massive currency depreciation.

The US has imposed unilateral sanctions on Belarus, Syria and Zimbabwe, among others, over the years, and ratcheted up “maximum pressure” against the DPRK, Venezuela, etc.

◆ Statistics show that the previous US administration had imposed over 3,900 sanction measures, which means it wielded its “big stick” three times a day on average. As of fiscal year 2021, the entities and individuals on US sanction lists topped 9,421, which was 933 percent higher compared to the fiscal year 2000.

The US’s illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction have gravely undermined the sovereignty and security of other countries and severely impacted their economic development and people’s wellbeing. The sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction also constitute a gross violation of international law and basic norms of international relations.

In an article published in the September/October 2021 issue of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Drezner, Professor at Tufts University and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, criticizes successive US administrations for using “sanctions as the go-to solution for nearly every foreign policy problem.” He notes that sanctions not only are ineffective, but also “exert a humanitarian toll”, and that the United States of America has become the “United States of Sanctions”.

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