China imposed sanctions on 11 American politicians and officials, a fair response to a prior move punishing Chinese officials over the enactment of national security law in Hong Kong.
Senator Tom Cotton, one of 11 persons on China’s sanctions list, in a bizarre statement, took the Chinese fightback like an honor badge granted for his lies and politically-motivated approach to China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry explained that Cotton and 10 others are being targeted for their “egregious records” on Hong Kong affairs. “Egregious” is accurate to describe this GOP extremist and people like him in Washington.
The Arkansans Senator attracted the ire of many Americans when he called on military troops to quell violent protests in a New York Times op-ed. While watching rampant vandalism unfold on Hong Kong streets, he changed his tone, blaming local law enforcers’ efforts to restore law and order.
Hong Kong is one chapter of Cotton’s anti-China playbook. He sided with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on China as the origin of the COVID-19 virus, despite scientists still being puzzled by when and how the virus jumped from animals to humans. He supported a “digital iron curtain” against Chinese firms, even though it will come at the cost to America, and restlessly depicted Chinese students and scholars as spies who are greedy for America’s top secrets.
Chinese people have sensed a terrifying pattern among American officials: blame China for every misstep the US has made and decouple from China on every aspect. The US government’s policy-making has developed into a knee jerk anti-China campaign. Fear, ignorance and self-conflict dominate the process.
The Chinese community and businesses in the US have felt a chill down their spine. Chinese and other Asian minorities are facing mounting racial harassment. According to the latest survey on the business climate in America, over 50 percent of the 200 Chinese enterprises surveyed complained that their operations were adversely impacted by the anti-China rhetoric and fraying between the two countries during the pandemic.
American firms are also baffled with the ambiguous and capricious executive orders which turned their normal exchanges with Chinese partners illegal overnight. Pandemic prevention and vaccine research will yield more inspiring results if Washington is not obsessed with politicizing this public health issue.
The sharp escalation of China-US tensions on a wide range of issues has raised great concerns that the two biggest countries may be embroiled in a race to the bottom.
The months ahead are a crucial period, with a higher risk that more flashpoints may emerge to derail the bilateral relationship. Any person who anticipates a quick return to the pre-pandemic world should stand out to prevent the 40-year-old relationship from a free fall.
Chinese officials have stepped up the call to bring bilateral ties back to the right track. Chinese deputy foreign minister Le Yucheng said China won’t simply follow Washington hardliners to view the bilateral ties through a cold war lens.
The question for the US is, does it have the courage and vision to get rid of the extreme and sensational anti-China politics, and eventually return to rationality?