Is Sanders’ prescription for American woes better than that of the Washington Hawks?
In this still image video of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Sanders announces the suspension of his presidential campaign, from Burlington, Vermont. Photo: AFP
In an opinion piece for Foreign Affairs magazine titled “Washington’s Dangerous New Consensus on China” on Thursday, US Senator Bernie Sanders spoke out against a “dangerous” chorus pushing for a new cold war with China. He said it was “distressing and dangerous” that “a rapidly growing consensus emerges in Washington that views the US-China relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle.”
Sanders believes that compared to organizing US foreign policy around a “zero-sum global showdown with China,” there is a better way forward. He suggested that the United States make itself more competitive with China by revitalizing American democracy, restoring people’s trust in government by meeting the long-neglected needs of working families, creating millions of well-paying jobs. , rebuilding crumbling American infrastructure and fighting climate change. He also called for cooperation with China in areas such as climate change, pandemics and nuclear proliferation.
Sanders views the internal contradictions of the United States through the prism of Sino-American relations and from the point of view of restoring the world leadership of the United States. As the United States grapples with various social ills, including weakening democracy, widening wealth gaps and a growing unemployment crisis, he believes the United States should focus more on the challenges. national rather than China.
Current US political elites are stuck in a Cold War mentality when dealing with China, but Sanders believes they have prescribed Washington the wrong drug to manage relations with China. “Sanders is proposing a prescription that he believes is less dangerous and could help solve domestic problems in the United States,” Li Haidong, professor at the Institute of International Relations at the University of Foreign Affairs, told the Global Times. from China.
Sanders is right that the United States should not engage in a “zero-sum global showdown with China.” But in his article, Sanders also writes that Americans should stand up to China’s alleged intellectual property theft and human rights abuses, and called for concern over “China’s aggressive global ambitions.” . This is not a departure from the new consensus on China formed in Washington which he opposes.
Zhang Tengjun, deputy researcher at the China Institute for International Studies, said accusing China of violating human rights has become political correctness in the United States, and although Sanders supports strengthening cooperation with China in some areas, it will not challenge political correctness and must respond to the dominant voices towards China.
Sanders also argued that the decision to grant China “permanent normal trade relations” status more than 20 years ago, which he opposed at the time, was disastrous. According to him, this did not lead to the economic liberalization of China but allowed American companies to leave the country, resulting in the loss of a large number of jobs in the country. However, he overlooks the fact that the United States as a whole has also benefited enormously from the normalization of trade relations with China. What has gone wrong is America’s system of wealth distribution, whereby the profits that big American companies derive from the Chinese market are not fairly shared with the American public.
The United States now faces many thorny domestic challenges. Incidents such as the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill have suggested that there is a deep-seated discontent within American society. The country needs in-depth reform to resolve the domestic crisis. Can the United States muster its strength and pull itself together? However, instead of thinking about how to tackle national headaches, American politicians and political elites are more inclined to make countries like China and Russia enemies and advocate a confrontational approach. It is unclear how politicians like Sanders can help correct reckless US policies in China.