March 27, 2019
To gather national strength, just create an enemy. In Europe, the Americans are doing this daily on many levels, from small businesses to countries and the continent itself. It is apparent from the media coverage last year that China has been designated “the great danger”.
The United States is devoting huge resources to discrediting China in Europe. It is mobilising its political and diplomatic corps to get the world, especially Western nations, to believe that if Chinese economic progress continues, the world might collapse.
The strategy seems to be to spread insecurity, suspicion and falsehoods, and to threaten misery if countries fail to follow the US.
Washington has threatened retaliation if the EU limits US involvement in pan-continental military projects. It has warned Turkey not to purchase S-400 rockets from Russia. It has pressured allies not to buy 5G equipment from Huawei, although other contenders, Nokia and Ericsson, also make phones in China.
How dare the Americans speak out against Chinese espionage, when they are reported to have tapped German ministers’ phones – and even Chancellor Angela Merkel’s?
The US has twisted an economic success story into a narrative about a race for world domination. It criticises Chinese detention camps for Muslims, which are intended to protect against terrorism.
Evidently, the US has forgotten what it did after September 11: a “war on terror” was fought, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and Europe experienced a refugee crisis.
Few have spoken up for China in Europe, but let me raise some basic points. First, China’s development is rooted in more than 4,000 years of recorded history. It contains a basic concept that is diametrically opposed to the world view of the 242-year-old US, which has dominated the West since the end of the second world war.
Second, the West – read, the US – wants to rule in a world of imbalance; China seeks balance.
Third, the West puts the individual first; China, the country.
Fourth, the West emphasises an “either you are with us or you are against us” mentality; China seeks a “shared future for mankind” .
Finally, when the West encounters resistance, it confronts or invades; China stops, waits and sees.
I have been visiting China every three months over the past three years and everywhere I have encountered a friendly, progressive, learning and developing nation. Most in the West imagine bicycles, rice fields and Mao when they think of China.
I see technological, infrastructure and management solutions that are far ahead of the West, almost on every level and in every field. I once said to a highly respected Chinese: “What is happening in China now is like a miracle.” The answer I got was: “No, no, this is hard work.”
It is crucial that the ongoing trade negotiations between the US and China end in an agreement, primarily for the two countries, but also for the rest of the world. If not, I’m afraid Europe will be disconnected from the opportunities generated by Chinese innovation; Europe could really become a museum.
The US does not understand that the Belt and Road Initiative comes from Chinese culture: the plan is about peace, trade, two-way exchanges of culture and education, and win-win solutions. This is classic sustainability and this is what the Chinese will focus on, no matter what happens.
Finally, there is wisdom to be gleaned from the famous story of Zhou Enlai in the early 1970s. When the Chinese leader was supposedly asked about the impact of the French Revolution, he is reported to have said it was “too early” to judge.
Board member of TFF, former MP of the Norwegian Parliament and former mayor for 12 years of Frogn municipality outside Oslo.