Voices from Russia

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Are Chinese Media Reports Making the USA Anxious?


Some Chinese scholars speculate that because Chinese media presented an exaggeratedly positive invincible image of China to the outside world, it fuelled “China threat” fears in the West, particularly in the USA. Indeed, some Chinese media outlets should reflect on their exaggerated reports. However, while such scholarly arguments are well intended, their speculation doesn’t take into account the real and direct cause of the growing unsteady relations between the USA and China since Donald Trump became US President. China’s confident and practical strategy to engage the world is appropriate, even justified, given the changing times and thus we should refine it rather than halt or abandon it. Consequently, Chinese media should continue presenting China to the outside world as a positive global force, but in a more multi-varied manner.

In retrospect, Trump‘s visit to Asia on 3-14 November 2017 presaged the beginning of the US administration’s strategic shift from cooperation and competition to rivalry with China. For example, a consultation report, “Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence”, sponsored by the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy and released on 5 December 2017 attempted to define China’s soft power as “sharp power”. In a sense, the authors of the report used “sharp power” as a new and more powerful concept than soft power, in order to label any attempt by China to engage with the world, be it cultural exchanges such as the Confucius Institutes, the Belt and Road Initiative, or major country diplomacy, as malignant. Moreover, the White House National Security Strategy Report, released in December last year, categorises China as a “strategic rival” or “strategic competitor” of the USA. A flurry of op-ed commentaries in US and European media ensued to bolster the official US stance toward China.

This public opinion campaign (rather, US-style propaganda) aimed at legitimising US moves led to some ideologically-biased politicians such as Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz going against the very academic freedom they claim to value by pressuring a couple of universities in their respective states of Florida and Texas to close down Confucius Institutes. In contrast, thanks to its collaborative, holistic, and win-win ideology, China is attempting to further develop its economy and thus help others do the same by aligning with the Belt and Road Initiative. In short, China wants to work with other countries to build a community of a shared future for mankind. This cooperative strategy of China won’t only help change American culture from a culture of competition bordering on violence to a culture of cooperation and collaboration, but also help alleviate Chinese scholarly worries about deteriorating US-China relations.

30 May 2018

Jia Wenshan

China Daily



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