Powerless and ridiculous for US to cry for its recognition as regional leader
March 2, 2023 — “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t,” said former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher. From this, we know how powerless and ridiculous it is when the US tries to persuade others by repeating, “I am still a leader, and you have to believe and admit it!”
In a video released Tuesday by NBC News, Nicholas Burns, the US Ambassador to China, who spoke by video link at a US Chamber of Commerce event, said Beijing must accept that Washington is a leader in Asia. He declared that China must now understand that “the US is staying in this region – we’re the leader in this region in many ways.”
What the US politician said implies two messages. First, he seems to criticize China for not understanding US’ presence in the Asia-Pacific. Second, Burns wants Beijing to acknowledge Washington’s leadership in the region. Yet, both are far from the truth.
Washington has always had the strategic miscalculation：It believes Beijing wants to push it out of the Asia-Pacific region. But China not only recognizes US’ presence in the area, but also seeks peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation with the US on the premise of mutual respect. What Beijing refuses is to be led by anyone else, including Washington.
Burns’ words are extremely US-centric, as they come entirely from Washington’s perspective of its regional role while ignoring the actual opinions of other Asia-Pacific nations. Such arrogance aims to satisfy the US’ strategic need for maintaining global hegemony.
“US continues to live in an alternative reality fuelled by hubris,” one tweet said, commenting on Burns’ remarks. This hits the nail on the head regarding US’ current status.
Washington has to understand that most Asia-Pacific countries do not want to be stuck in a Cold War-like confrontation again, nor do they want to see conflicts between major powers. The US’ desire to lead regional affairs and get the recognition of other countries is wishful thinking, which is completely at odds with the trend of development in Asia-Pacific.
Besides, against the backdrop of the deteriorating domestic problems and the relative decline in US’ national power, there’s also a sense of lack of confidence in Burns’ remarks: In fact, it actually sounds like a self-affirmation the US has to make.
“In the past, the US could confidently intervene in the affairs of any region and use force or coercion to maintain its leadership. But now it is increasingly incapable of acting as a leader, because Washington finds it more difficult to focus on other regions,” Zhang Tengjun, deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.
Almost one year in office, Burns has increasingly fueled the deterioration of China-US relations. As Washington’s megaphone for Beijing, the ambassador has frequently criticized China’s policies in public, including on social media. Many of his comments are damaging to US-China relations and inappropriate to his ambassadorship.
For instance, an exclusive report by the Global Times on Monday noted that Burns recently sparked discontent among the attendees of the 22nd Annual Appreciation Dinner American Chamber of Commerce when he criticized China in his address to the event.
The US Ambassador to China is the executor of US policy toward China. After taking office, Burns has been following Washington’s order on many China-related issues tightly and expressing what the White House wants him to say. Therefore, it is easy to see that Burns’ actions of fueling the fire essentially stem from the hysteria of the US’ containment policy toward China.
Over the past year, it seems that condemning China has become an instinctive reaction of any US official when dealing with China, especially in the current US political environment that promotes anti-China sentiments.
Nevertheless, politicians like Burns should understand that “pride and prejudice” toward China will only bring more danger and chaos to the region and the world. No matter how harsh they want to sound when talking about China and how assertive when talking about the US, they can never fool other countries by trying to sugarcoat US hegemony as “leadership.”