China’s state-run Global Times did not think highly of the Biden administration’s latest National Security Strategy (NSS) document, hyperbolically claiming the entire world was immediately gripped by “a strong sense of unease and concern” because American national security will “come at the expense of the security of other countries.”
The Global Times accused the document of strengthening “the camp confrontation and binary opposition mindset that led to the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.” This seems like a cheeky observation coming from the state media of a brutal authoritarian regime that has yet to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine.
Most of the Global Times’ critique boiled down to the latest repetition of the Chinese Communist Party’s favorite geopolitical talking point: the U.S. allegedly adopting a “Cold War mentality” by treating China as a menace to be contained, as the Western world confronted the Soviet Union.
The Global Times lost its marbles when the NSS described China and Russia as “powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy,” combining a taste for “wars of aggression” with “actively undermining the democratic political processes of other countries, leveraging technology and supply chains for coercion and repression, and exporting an illiberal model of international order.”
That is a very accurate description of Chinese and Russian policy so, of course, the Chinese state editorialists did not like it one little bit, not even after the White House gave them a break by describing Russia as more of an “immediate threat to the free and open international system” and emphasizing “competition” with China over confrontation.
The NSS, which was released on Wednesday, made very few ripples in American media because the short document did not announce any dramatic changes in policy. This was precisely what enraged the Global Times, because it expected the Biden administration to abandon “the Trump administration’s radical stance toward China,” and could see no better explanation than cowardly apprehension over the U.S. midterm elections for failing to do so.
The Global Times was further annoyed that the Biden NSS specifically claimed America does not want another Cold War:
Public opinion has noticed a very striking judgment in the report, which is to claim that “the post-Cold War era is definitively over.” Then what era is it now? The report does not give an answer. It just mechanically reiterates that “We do not seek conflict or a new Cold War.” However, the report is also full of bragging about the so-called achievements of military alliances such as NATO and AUKUS. It lists in detail the US’ steps of coordinating with its allies to launch geopolitical competition against other countries, turning the report’s commitment of not seeking a new Cold War into a cheap swear.
The report also simply divides the pluralistic world into a “competition between democracies and autocracies” according to US’ will, aiming at cutting off the possibility of peaceful and harmonious coexistence of different civilizations at the root. This is the clearest Cold War-style expression in US’ national security strategy since the end of the Cold War. Washington’s actual practices also reflect an undisguised zero-sum game, which makes the US’ claim of “manage the competition [with China] responsibly” hypocritical.
It has been 31 years since the end of the Cold War, but the political elites in Washington still have not learned to coexist with other countries in a new way. They have failed to, or refused to, accept and adapt to the fundamental changes of the times. They still need to establish their own coordinates and guide their way by creating “imaginary enemies,” as if they do not even know how to move forward without an “imaginary enemy.” However, this approach has huge and dangerous side effects. In particular, they have found the wrong “imaginary enemy,” and even created “adversaries” and “enemies” the US cannot handle.
AUKUS is the military pact between America, the United Kingdom, and Australia announced last year, an alliance explicitly aimed at countering Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
China immediately denounced the pact as a threat to “regional peace and stability” and denounced it as an example of “outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception” — almost exactly the same words that would be recycled in the Global Times’ slam of the 2022 National Security Strategy document a year later.