White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in a Fox News interview on Monday that China had beaten the US considerably in terms of trade but that "doesn't make them an enemy." He also said that it was not up to the US to "pass judgment" on Beijing and that China has "a system of government that has apparently worked for the Chinese people."
Kelly's remarks are frank but not what many US and Western elites wish to hear from a senior US government official.
With President Donald Trump set to begin his Asian tour which includes a stop in China, it is also a time for some politicians who hope to convince Trump to take a hard line on China.
Speaking of Asia, the first thing that would come to many Americans' minds is China's rise and the North Korean nuclear issue. On matters affecting Asia, they are preoccupied with China's rise. Some radicals get emotional and believe that China is an external source of problems affecting the development of the US. Their prejudice against China's political system has deepened their sentiment and they want to see Washington take harsh stance on China.
Kelly's comments that China is not an enemy of the US and that China has "a system of government that has apparently worked for the Chinese people" are true. With interactions between China and the US, including those that involve bilateral trade, so huge, how could they be enemies? China can by no means be defined as a US "enemy."
China's system of government fits the country. China's economy has grown so fast and the national strength and people's livelihood have improved spectacularly. How could the China's system not be fit for the country?
For a long time, some Americans and Western people have been brainwashed by the Cold War era. They have lost the ability to assess and embrace the new reality. In a fast-paced world, China-US relations have evolved differently from the previous mindset. But they cannot understand the new world order at all and still measure relations between the two nations with an old yardstick.
The old way of thinking is stubborn. After Kelly spoke, Fox News host Laura Ingraham responded by saying that [China's system] does not work for all Chinese, and not for Christians. The host was clearly influenced by theories and rumors about the underground churches in China. She should come to China to see with her own eyes that most Christians in China, like many other Chinese, recognize China's political system and benefit from it. There are people against the system in any society. It is an indisputable fact that China's system is committed to allowing the public to benefit from development and maximize the inclusiveness.
With China's growing strength and increased competition and cooperation between China and the US, it is essential to prevent the two countries from turning competition into confrontation. To achieve that goal, it is essential that the governments and elites of the two countries help their societies understand each other and objectively assess the situation. They should not magnify frictions and believe that they are absolutely right and the other side is wrong. They should not blindly seek to gain an edge and be a winner. These suggestions should serve as a guide to engagement between the two countries.