Why US shouldn’t seek regime change in China – Asia Times

Why US shouldn't seek regime change in China - Asia Times

There are at least two ways to view Sino-American conflicts. The United States and China are two formidable nations competing for supreme corporate clout in the same geographical area. They are also the rulers of two philosophical rivalries pitting liberal governments against authoritarians. &nbsp,

The core problem is allegedly regime type, according to the latter viewpoint. Some US observers have argued that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP ) cannot peacefully co-exist with governments that are founded on liberal political principles. They draw the conclusion that the free earth must work to destroy the CCP in order to help the oppressed Taiwanese people, not just to defend themselves.

A popular new case was the July 2020&nbsp, speech&nbsp, by therefore- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. &nbsp,” We, the independence- caring nations of the world, may induce China to change”, he said. &nbsp,” And if we do n’t act now, ultimately the CCP will erode our freedoms”. In that case, “our family’s children may be at the kindness of the Chinese Communist Party”.

In the May/June version of the prominent journal&nbsp, Foreign Affairs, Matt Pottinger, like Pompeo a former top official in the Trump administration, and former Congressman Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin who was chairman of a China- focused committee, &nbsp, reprised&nbsp, the argument that the US government does create defeat of the CCP a key goal of US policy toward China.

Matt Pottinger, past Trump administration assistant US national security advisor. Photo: Wikipedia

Beijing may bear a planet that upholds democratic values, they wrote. &nbsp, Seeking détente is “doomed to fail on the United States” .&nbsp, So, the US should try to “win” more than “manage” the contest with China.

Their concept of winning may satisfy two criteria. &nbsp, First, Beijing would no longer have hope that it could best the US or a US ally “in a hot or cold conflict” .&nbsp, Second, the Chinese government would no longer be “repressive” but, rather, would be “free from communist dictatorship”.

That would be a major change from US policy. &nbsp, As Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a big 2022&nbsp, speech&nbsp, about China,” We do not request to change China’s social system”.

Americans typically despise autocratic regimes, and they would welcome China’s transition to democracy in the manner of Taiwan and South Korea in the late 20th century. However, it would be foolish for Washington to make this a significant goal of US plan.

Past US Congressman Mike Gallagher. Photo: X

Protecting the latest program, with the CCP’s stranglehold on social power unquestioned, is the PRC president’s highest- ranked attention. Declaring an intention to attack that curiosity may make the US appear to be a direct adversary of the PRC, which would have negative effects.

Declaring a warm battle against the CCP may lead Beijing to assume the same about the US, as Pottinger and Gallagher do, that seeking a productive relationship with the PRC is pointless.

The PRC authorities reportedly believes Washington participates in subterfuge, such as in the&nbsp, case&nbsp, of US officials reportedly instigating anti- state protests in Hong Kong in 2019. Beijing still appears to be trying to fend off a stronger US commitment to overthrow the CCP, though.

Chinese media have repeatedly highlighted the claim that Joe Biden told Xi Jinping during their meetings in&nbsp, Bali&nbsp, in 2022 and in&nbsp, California&nbsp, in 2023 that” the United States respects China’s system, and does not seek to change it”.

At the ceremonial level, at least, the Xi government ‘s&nbsp, Global Security Initiative&nbsp, does n’t envision America as a permanent enemy but sees it rather as part of a peacefully coexisting world (once the US and other countries have accepted the new Sino- centric world order ).

Beijing currently&nbsp, resists&nbsp, describing the US- China relationship as” competitive” .&nbsp, PRC officials continue to&nbsp, call on&nbsp, the US to “advance cooperation while responsibly managing differences”, which indicates a willingness in principle to stovepipe contentious issues so they do n’t prevent collaboration on other issues.

All that will change, however, if Beijing sees Washington prioritizing regime change in China. But from the US standpoint, the overall results of US- China cooperation have been poor.

That’s because Beijing often seems to&nbsp, act&nbsp, in&nbsp, bad&nbsp, faith. &nbsp, The results would be worse, however, in a full- blown cold war. &nbsp, A working bilateral relationship is still largely viable, and more necessary than ever.

The two nations must control the significant trade and investment flows between them. &nbsp, Progress in addressing transnational issues such as climate change, health, environmental protection and crime requires coordination between the world’s two most influential countries. As US and PRC ships and aircraft operate in some of the same locations, American and Chinese officials must communicate to avoid unintended military conflicts. &nbsp,

If replacing China’s political system became a key goal of US policy, cooperation on these and other issues would become harder and perhaps impossible.

America already indirectly subverts the CCP by merely existing, even if the US government does n’t commit to changing China’s government. &nbsp, Despite all of its problems, the US wields immense soft power, prompting a jealous PRC government to&nbsp, argue&nbsp, that China is more “democratic” than the US. &nbsp,

Xi’s government has placed&nbsp, extraordinary emphasis&nbsp, on the threat that” Western constitutional democracy” and the idea of “universal values” pose to the party’s maintenance of its leadership position. &nbsp, China’s diplomacy evinces an obsession with undermining US global prestige and influence. &nbsp,

The immigration applications for visas are lengthy outside the US embassy and consulate in China. &nbsp, Despite the arduous journey, the number of Chinese migrants entering the US through its southern border&nbsp, increased&nbsp, nearly tenfold from 2022 to 2023. &nbsp,

By striving to be its best self, the US could probably have a greater impact on China’s political system than by the US government’s commitment to the PRC’s liberalization as a policy goal. &nbsp,

The justification for pursuing authoritarian rule in China is based on the assumption that a politically liberalized China would no longer pose a significant threat to US interests. &nbsp, That assumption, however, is questionable.

Like Xi, his predecessors Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao were CCP authoritarians. &nbsp, But under their regimes, China was less threatening to the US because China was relatively much farther behind America in wealth, technological capability, economic strength and military power.

After the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by US aircraft, Jiang realized China was not yet strong enough to adopt a more antagonistic position toward the US.

By contrast, when Xi took the top PRC leadership posts in 2012—2013, China had achieved global economic centrality, was closing the military gap with the US, had recently hosted the Olympic Games and believed that the 2007- 08 financial crisis signaled an acceleration in America’s decline.

On July 1, 2021, Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a ceremony honoring the one-year anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, China. Photo: Ju Peng / Xinhua

Because Xi believes that China now has more relative power and leverage, Xi’s China is aggressively expansionist, not just because it is authoritarian but also because it believes this is the best way to accomplish the CCP’s goals.

In another way, regime change alone might not necessarily relieve all the tensions between Chinese and US allies in the area.

Historically, democratic countries such as Britain, France, the Netherlands and the US have engaged in expansionism by seizing colonies without the consent of their native peoples. A non-authoritarian Chinese government would no longer have a reason to worry about liberal values permeating the world. &nbsp,

However, the notion that China is the natural leader of its region and deserves the privileges of a large nation is not just CCP propaganda; instead, it is a set of beliefs that the Chinese people hold dearly.

A politically liberal China would still despise Japan and hold Taiwan and the South China Sea in its hands. Although Taiwan is a democracy, the Republic of China on Taiwan continues to assert its sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea, and it has rejected the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration decision that was affirmed by the Philippines in favor of the PRC. &nbsp,

Finally, the US government must decide how to overthrow the CCP. &nbsp, Pompeo’s only policy recommendation was that all governments should “insist on reciprocity” as well as” transparency and accountability from the Chinese Communist Party”.

Pottinger and Gallagher state that there are no specific methods for bringing about regime change aside from” trying harder to disseminate truth within China itself and… make it possible for Chinese citizens to communicate securely with one another.”

The US would pay a lot for waging a cold war with China. The worst of all worlds would be to incur these costs while failing to accomplish the goal of the escalation. Washington should concentrate more on preventing and eradicating adversarial PRC behavior than on removing the CCP.

Denny Roy is a senior fellow at the East- West Center, Honolulu