US needs a reality check

2021-03-29 12:07:29

The world is getting warmer. Not only because of global warming, but because of the threat of chaos at the global geopolitical level. After Biden's remarks against Putin and the exchange of barbs between China and US at the Alaska meeting and Russia's decision to break off partnership with the EU due to NATO's stance, geopolitical tensions have increased. Just like with Russia, America will continue to clash with China in the foreseeable future, especially over Taiwan and the South China Sea, which was highlighted by the US at the Alaska meeting along with Xinjiang, Hong Kong and even the issue of Myanmar. China will not take step back from its sovereign issues. What China is doing is avoiding kinetic warfare, but remaining assertive against those who interfere in China's internal affairs. In the Nixon era, through Kissinger, America was able to approach China so that US could exit the Vietnam War, with a commitment to support the reintegration of Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Nixon and Kissinger gave a positive signal, until Taiwan left the United Nations in 1979. But in the hands of Jimmy Charter, the commitment was twisted, with the birth of the Taiwan Act in Congress. The US finally stood tall when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1989, and officially disbanded in 1991. And in the early 2000s, China was successfully invited into the WTO. Putin was labeled "killer", and China came under attack in Alaska. But China is not what it used to be. Now China can hit back at Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, with the issue of Black Lives Matter, the attacks of Trump on Capitol Hill, Asian hate, etc. So it is with Russia. Even though Putin's response was calm and mature to Biden's statement, Russia will still challenge US in international political space, as long as the US and NATO try to intervene in the former Soviet countries. As seen so far, Russia and Putin will never play the card projected by America. Russia will act beyond the White House's predictions, like the Little Green Army in Ukraine, or hosting a meeting of the Taliban and the Afghan government, or detaining Navalny without having to think about the White House's opinion. These are clear sign that Russia can never be dictated by US, as long as there is no fair exchange of interests between the two countries. Indeed, recognized or not, Uncle Sam now looks increasingly old, frail, but does not recognize the emergence of new balancer like China and Russia. Yes, the US benefits geographically from being far from the epicenter of Middle East conflicts, and increasingly benefiting from allies that provide hundreds of military bases around the world. But military domination means nothing without economic incentives for allied nations. If the US is unable to recover economically, China will fill the void. Evidently, the Belt and Road Initiative has been filling the gaps left by US. Likewise with Russia against Europe. The European Union is increasingly barren and NATO is no longer as solid as it used to be, so Russia is slowly becoming a threat as well as a support for many countries that have been dependent on Europe for a long time. Turkey, which is also a member of NATO, is closer to Moscow than to Paris, for example. Or Germany will find it difficult to be hostile to Moscow because of the oil and gas supply factor. In other words, the US must reflect and measure America's true capabilities. By calling Putin a killer and saying that China will not be able to compete with America, the US is making things difficult for itself and worsening America's geopolitical resilience at the international level.The author is Senior Fellow at Indonesia Strategic and Economic Action Institution.The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website. If you have a specific expertise and would like to contribute to China Daily, please contact us at opinion@chinadaily.com.cn, and comment@chinadaily.com.cn.