American media outlets are never friendly to China. They referred China as the “autocrat” and “America’s largest threat in the twenty-first century.” They also love to report the human rights abuses and illegitimacy of Chinese Communist Party. Undoubtedly, China has many problems within itself, but why is there so much unbalanced reporting about it in the United States in Western media? My answer is mainly about ideology.
The superiority of democracy is deeply rooted in American beliefs. Many Western Scholars such as Robert Kegan insisted that “Democracy is the best form of government and the only legitimate form of government for everyone everywhere.” Therefore, “all nondemocratic governments are inherently illegitimate and…transient.”
Hypercritically, the United States has also adopted a Darwinistic strategy of promoting democracy globally through military force since the mid-1970s. Promoting American values internationally has become the predominant approach to maintaining the American way of life domestically. As a result, it has become a matter of routine for the United States to employ force proactively to assist democratic transitions, prevent the fall of existing fragile democracies, and overturn regimes that refused to follow American norms. Examples include Grenada in 1983, the Marcos regime in 1986, and Panama in 1989.
If democracy is truly inherently superior, it should prevail by itself. However, the excessive military actions of the United States in recent decades only shows power domination and forceful imposition of its ideology to other countries.
Why is the United States particularly hostile towards China and Russia? If America’s creed is summed up as “republican liberalism,” then China and Russia are more for authoritarianism. As a result, the fundamentally different ideologies create conflicts and misunderstandings during China’s and Russia’s interactions with the United States.
Similar patterns also apply to human beings: people are always attracted to others who are similar. Similar interests make nations cooperate with each other, and similar value systems make them allies. Thus, the current method of defending the American way of life is an ambitious goal of assimilating the rest of the world. Hence, the United States attempts to create a system of hegemony by establishing international norms in accordance with American values.
However, the existence of countries like China and Russia has already discredited the American values of democracy.
When entering the twenty-first century, an increasing number of media outlets claim that the United States is in decline in its military, economic, cultural and political capacities. Besides the Soviet Union, China is the second nation in history in which American liberalism and democracy do not work at all.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 seemed to prove to the world the victory of democracy and capitalism over communism. Nevertheless, the rise of China in the past few decades has re-challenged the past glorious victory. The development of China reminds Americans of the deep-rooted fear of communism, although the current Chinese society is not even completely communistic.
Furthermore, China marks the failure of American soft power. Compared to any other country in the world, the 1.3 billion population and a long distinctive civilization of China make it extremely hard for the United States to assimilate. On this far eastern land, the collisions between capitalism and socialism, between democracy and authoritarianism, and between the free market and strong state involvement approach all take place.
On this far eastern land, the collisions between capitalism and socialism, between democracy and authoritarianism, and between the free market and strong state involvement approach all take place.
In response to the threat from China, the United States has strengthened its military deployments in the Asia-Pacific region in the past decades. These military deployments include strengthening the US-Japan military alliance and strategic cooperation with India, improving relations with Vietnam, increasing arms sales to Taiwan, etc.
Because China does not follow American values, the United States has expanded its influences surrounding China, giving it “a sense of being under siege.” The United States adopts Darwinism and uses its military power to squeeze the living space of countries with different ideologies.
Whether China can survive is determined by how strong this country is against external pressures. Nevertheless, the American belief in democracy and liberal economic order does not give it the legitimacy to invade or indirectly threaten other nations.
Meanwhile, China is still much luckier compared to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria when encountering the United States. Countries with Islamic identities, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, are also targets of American ideological invasion.
At least the United States will not directly invade China under the name of building a democratic state.
Exactly as Darwinism asserts, relatively strong countries such as China and Russia can endure the pressures from the American hegemony, while some Middle Eastern countries only become the sacrifices of American Darwinism.
Up to 2012, around 120,000 civilians died during the Iraq War; more than four million refugees of the Syrian Civil War have left the country.
When will the United States stop following Darwinism and not act as a predator on the top of the food chain? Is the peace obtained by invasion and forceful acceptance real peace? Furthermore, does the United States even have the legitimacy to spread its own ideology through its military?
The rise of China interrupted the status of the United States as a global hegemony, and offers the alternative ideology of survival to other nations. Of course, for China to maintain its power in the world, the country still needs to implement many reforms domestically.
However, for other developing countries, the message is inspiring. The developing countries with different ideologies in the “periphery” can also possibly enter the “core” by their innovation of ideology.
That explains why scholars like Michael Lind would assert that “it is neither in the power nor the interest of the United States to dominate the world.” That is true.
For a long time, the United States as the global rule-maker has not followed the rules they made. The future transition of American Foreign Policy will require it to re-evaluate its beliefs and actions, and respect other countries.