The Western world refuses to accept China's peaceful rise as the second-largest economy and geopolitical power. China completed this journey in just 40 years, while the West spent centuries to attain this level of economic development.
China's economy surpassed Germany in 2007 and Japan in 2011 and is projected to exceed the US' to become the number one economy. Germany accepted China's rise, while Japan was not happy but unable to resist. However, the US is offering a lot of resistance.
The trade tariffs launched by the US on China have only one goal — to curtail China. We should understand that we are living in a global village; harming any state will harm all others. China's share of the global economy is big and any damage to the Chinese economy will affect the global economy adversely.
It is historical fact that nations rise and the fall and let other nations replace them. It is a natural circle and has happened throughout history. If one nation wants to maintain the status quo by force, it will not succeed. One cannot win against nature. Let this natural cycle happen smoothly.
The US' imposition of duties on Chinese products will be counter-productive for the US itself. The American public has been buying Chinese products at an affordable rate for decades, and now depriving them of competitive commodities may not be accepted by the public so easily.
Chinese exports to the US are mostly consumer goods, with some steel and iron products. Duties on consumer products will upset the general public. Duties on steel and aluminum, and other metals alloys – the raw material for American industry, will harm American industry, especially the US defense section which depends on raw material from China. The imposition of duties on raw material imported from China may have an adverse impact on American industry.
China due to its huge workforce and abundance of natural resources can compete with any nation in the world in price as well as quality. China has been investing heavily on education, research and innovation, and has already reached a stage where it can compete with any other country. China's huge domestic market is miles ahead of any other nation. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China enjoys close relations with more than a hundred countries, a big market in itself. China can produce products of wide range and varied qualities to suit the consumer's budget. While the US lacks all these aspects. The US has edge only in exporting weapons, but that also depends on Chinese raw material.
On the political front, public opinion in China is with the government. There exists a complete harmony between the government and the general public. But in the US, the situation may be different, if small or medium-sized companies or general public suffer, public opinion may turn against the Government. It may hurt the general presidential election to be held next year. Any social unrest may lead to chaos.
Based on my experience and understanding after living in China for a long time, I can say that the Chinese are not aggressive and will not strike first. Chinese people are patient, tolerant and try their best to find a peaceful solution through dialogue. In recent history, the border dispute with India in 2017 at Donglang (Doklam) was resolved by without any bloodshed from either side.
However, China reserves the right to reciprocate or take all necessary measures to safeguard its national interest. China does have all potential to retaliate. It is better not to force China to the extent where China may surprise. China has the capacity to surprise the US. Chinese potential should not be underestimated.
It is desired that both sides should cool down and with realistic approach resolve all disputes amicably through dialogue and negotiation. Save the world order and save the "global village" from any instability.
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.