Cold War a Big Mistake for US

Zhen Wang
(Research Professor, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences)

The idea of "cold war" was only of passing interest to historians before 
U.S. President Donald Trump took office. Few believed that a new cold war 
would break out between major countries today.But the recent flurry of crazy 
moves by the Trump administration raises fears of such an outcome between 
China and the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered 
a speech at the Richard Nixon presidential library on July 23, delivering 
what is known as a new cold war declaration. He announced that the U.S. would 
build "a new alliance of democracies" to "change Communist China."

Obviously, some elites and political leaders in the United States, plagued 
by the lingering mentality of the 20th century's Cold War, are trying to 
restart it, only with China as the target, not the Soviet Union, which has 
already collapsed. Nowadays, it is China that's defined s a "strategic competitor.
"But if Washington insists on waging a new cold war against China, it may 
be making the most serious strategic mistake since the end of World War 

First of all, China is not the Soviet Union of those days. Politically, 
the Communist Party of China, although it is the ruling party, has freed 
itself from ideological rigidity and has instead adopted flexible, pragmatic 
policies. While the country continues to develop its socialist system with 
Chinese characteristics, it has never sought to export its economic and 
social models ù which, in fact, are not replicable.Economically, whether 
the Western world recognizes it or not, the market has played an important 
role in China's economic development. As a matter of fact, market forces 
and openness to the wider world are two significant drivers behind the country'
s decades of impressive economic growth. In 2019, its foreign trade amounted 
to $4.58 trillion, with outbound foreign direct investment reaching $117.12 
billion. Today, China is a major trading partner and source of investment 
for many countries.

More important, China has never defined itself as an anti-American country 
in its foreign strategy since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic 
relations in the 1970s. Despite disapproval reflected in some U.S. foreign 
policies, China has never lent support to a proxy war against the U.S. or 
sought to form an international alliance against it. In addition, China 
has no intention of upending the current international system, from which 
it has reaped huge benefits; rather, it strives to avoid confrontations 
with the United States and aims to partner with it to enhance the international 

Second, the world is different from what it was in the early days of the 
postwar era. After the end of the Cold War, the rapid development of science 
and technology and global economic integration transformed the world into 
a global village driven by market forces. The economies of all nations have 
been intertwined.In this context, any attempt to unilaterally "decouple" 
will backfire, and the general public will bear the brunt of such a foolish 
act. In the age of globalization, no country can address global challenges 
on its own. Many issues depend on international cooperation, from the rampant 
COVID-19 pandemic to terrorism, from climate change to nuclear non-proliferation 
and transnational crime.

Finally, in the Information Age, it makes no sense to build opposing camps 
by manufacturing ideological confrontations. On one hand, the moral high 
ground and soft power that the United States has acquired in the postwar 
era are on the decline. The ideals that it champions, such as freedom, democracy,
 equality and human rights, have lost their luster due to political polarization 
and racial discrimination within the country, and its hegemony on the world 
stage is cracking. Domestically, as a result of a pandemic that seems out 
of control, some American elites have begun to reflect on problems in the 
U.S. social and political systems.On the other hand, unlike the Cold War 
era, creating ideological confrontations through an information monopoly 
leads nowhere. After all, because of technology, people-to-people exchanges 
have reached an unprecedented level.No matter how some people in the United 
States smear the CPC and attack China ideologically, it is impossible to 
erase the fact that the CPC has led hundreds of millions of people out of 
poverty and achieved success in pandemic control. It is likewise impossible 
to incite an ideological shoot-out in the international community.

With China's rapid rise in power, conflicts of interest between the world's 
two largest economies in the political, economic, technological and diplomatic 
sectors have grown more pronounced. However, China is not a natural enemy 
of the United States. At present, both countries need to stay calm and leverage 
their wisdom to manage their conflicts, rather than start a new cold war.While 
it is easy for Americans to shift the blame to China, this is not the solution 
to the real problems faced by the United States. Anyone in Washington who 
continues to see China as an enemy will definitely find a rival never before 
seen. In short, a cold war would be the most serious U.S. strategic mistake 
since the end of World War II, and U.S. citizens and the wider international 
community would pay a heavy price for it.

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