The US and China need to learn how to get along with each other. Image: AFP

The steady deterioration of China-US relations has caused concern in many quarters, leading to worries that the two powers will fall into Thucydides’ Trap, and claims that they are Destined for War.   

While it is expected that China-US relations will get worse before there is any chance of their getting better, war is not and should not be an option for Beijing or Washington by any stretch of the imagination.

Both are armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other multiple times over, and any conventional armed conflict breaking out between them would soon escalate out of control and could lead to Armageddon, threatening not only the Chinese and American people but mankind as a whole.  

Never mind Thucydides’ Trap, the Destined for War speculation is in itself the biggest trap for China and the US, because it confuses selective pre-atomic history with the post-atomic realities of the world today.

The speculation has fueled Washington’s maximum confrontation against and manhandling of Beijing and has lent academic credence to Washington’s distorted belief that maximum pressure against Beijing will force it to capitulate and ensure that America would be the ultimate winner in an eventual war against China.  

Ironically, there is only one logical conclusion amid all the geopolitical confusions created by Washington’s maximum confrontation against Beijing: Rather than Destined for War, China and America are actually destined for peace. Call it the Inevitable Peace scenario.     

Therefore, the real choice for Beijing and Washington is simple: either Destined for War, leading to Armageddon, or Inevitable Peace, leading to “Live and Let Live.”

The Destined for War proposition is a false destiny for China and America, because neither the Chinese people, nor the American people, nor mankind as a whole want Armageddon. 

Therefore, any force anywhere in the world, political, military, academic or otherwise, pushing for war between China and the US should be opposed and condemned; and any force anywhere in the world, political, military, academic or otherwise, pushing for peace between China and America should be welcomed and promoted. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects a joint military exercise in the South China Sea in April 2018. Photo: Xinhua

The Huawei case

The US declaration of a national emergency against Huawei, including its effort to win extradition of Meng Wanzhou from Canada to the United States, is a case in point. 

Under the Destined for War scenario, the US handling of Huawei and Meng would have made sense based on the belief that China and America would eventually be engulfed in a war against each other, leading to Armageddon, and anything based in China would look suspicious as a potential Chinese instrument of war against America.  

In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping teased American leaders by asking why American wheat to be exported to China should not be declare “strategic goods,” to be banned like the embargoed military equipment, since the American wheat could be eaten by Chinese solders anyway? 

Under the Inevitable Peace scenario, the US handling of Huawei and Meng Wanzhou would amount to shooting itself in the foot, because Huawei, like many other resources out of China, could be utilized to help create hundreds of thousands of jobs in America, speed up its transition to fifth-generation (5G) telecom technology and make sure that the American semiconductor industry will live and prosper longer. 

As for Huawei, rather than collapsing under the maximum pressure from Washington, while maintaining its leadership position in 5G, is fast diversifying into automobiles, digital cities, cloud computing, high-speed-rail communication, and satellite 6G. 

As for the US extradition of Meng, recent evidence released by the Vancouver court clearly exposes the gaping holes and contradictions in the US claim of banking fraud against her, which is a major pillar of the US extradition request to Canada.  

While the strategic value of Meng’s extradition to the US, if any, is fast evaporating, Canada’s claim of adhering to a tradition of rule of law may boomerang back to haunt it because of the seemingly impossible task of filling the gaping hole in the fraud claim raised by the US against Meng. 

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou leaves the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver on September 28, 2020. Photo: AFP / Don MacKinnon

The United States and Canada could better serve themselves by finding a convenient way out of this embarrassing dilemma, letting Meng go home and creating the necessary conditions for “the two Michaels” to return to Canada.   

Thus the extradition case could be the last chapter of Destined for War, and her release could be the first chapter of the “Inevitable Peace” between China and America, enabling Canada to crawl out of this dilemma with dignity. 

Meng Wanzhou’s homecoming will be cheered by the 1.4 billion Chinese people, and that of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor will be cheered by Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  

Let us abandon the heresy of Destined for War. Let us embrace the truth of Inevitable Peace. Let peace prevail! Let the clouds of war dissipate and evaporate!  

Victor Zhikai Gao

Victor Zhikai Gao is a Chinese international-relations expert and translator. He is a director of the China National Association of International Studies, chair professor of Soochow University and an executive director of the Beijing Private Equity Association. He is best known for his position as the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's translator and currently an international expert on Chinese issues. Gao is the vice-president of the Center for China and Globalization.