10/01/2020, 15.22
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Yuan Nansheng: 'Extreme' nationalism will not give China victory over the US

Former diplomat expresses veiled criticism against the strident diplomacy of "wolf warriors", China’s new generation of diplomatic envoys. Caution is needed with Washington, which is not in decline. Decoupling is unlikely, but not impossible. Without dialogue with the United States, only the Russian option remains. He calls for a return to Deng Xiaoping’s line.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China should contain "extreme" nationalism and adopt a more cautious approach in its relations with the United States, warns Yuan Nansheng in an article posted on the WeChat account of Peking University’s Institute of International and Strategic Studies on Tuesday

Yuan, a former senior Chinese diplomat, is now vice president of a foreign ministry think tank associated with the China Institute of International Studies. He expressed veiled criticism of his country's increasingly tough foreign policy, dominated by "wolf warriors", diplomatic envoys who respond stridently to the criticisms from Washington and its allies.

In his view, Beijing should instead not give in to populism: a "China first" policy is not the right answer to the challenges of the Trump administration.

Yuan's analysis starts from the premise that at the end of the COVID-19 crisis, the balance of power between the two countries will change. However, he is convinced that Chinese leaders are wrong in thinking that US power is in decline.

Thanks to its capacity for technological innovation; its consumer market, the largest in the world; its financial and monetary leadership; Washington could be the first to emerge from the global health crisis.

The former Chinese consul to San Francisco argues that the economic decoupling between Washington and Beijing is an unlikely scenario, but cannot to be ruled out a priori.

Although China has dealt effectively with the pandemic crisis, it should not use its success to gain advantage in global competition. For Yuan, this would be a "strategic misjudgment".

The United States and China are at odds over a number of issues: trade, intellectual property, technological primacy, human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang, Hong Kong's autonomy, Taiwan's status, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and the origin of the pandemic.

However, for the former diplomat, an all-out confrontation with the US would also limit Beijing's diplomatic options. Without the possibility of dialogue with Washington, China would be left only with the Russian option on the international stage.

The European Union has already hinted that transatlantic ties remain solid, and that differences of opinion are part of the relationship between Europe and the United States.

Some analysts argue that China is trying to exploit the trade disputes between the two sides of the Atlantic to draw the European Union into its own orbit.

In this difficult phase, Yuan suggests that China should go back to Deng Xiaoping's mantra, “hide your strength, bide your time”; contrary to what the nationalists believe, “Chinese diplomacy needs to be stronger, not just tougher”.

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