China should stop fighting ideological battles with the United States and trying to prove the superiority of its political system, according to a Chinese intellectual.
“There are more than 200 political entities in the world and only an extremely small number have the same ideology and political system as China,” Yan Xuetong, dean of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Modern International Relations in Beijing, said in an article published in the latest issue of its Quarterly Journal of International Politics.
“Thus, avoiding ideological fights with any country will bring more benefits than costs.”
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
Yan, who is one of the country’s leading international relations scholars, said China could benefit from avoiding such confrontations because most countries had political systems similar to that of the US.
In the past China had benefited from playing down the ideology debate as it reduced obstacles to international cooperation and helped to maintain stable relations with countries that had undergone regime changes, like Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he said.
Also, if Beijing continued to pick ideological fights with the US, it might find itself locked in proxy wars with nations backed by Washington, Yan said.
“The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union heavily involved supporting similar-minded governments in third-party countries and engaging in proxy wars. Keeping the Sino-US rivalry out of the ideological field can help to avoid proxy wars based on ideological differences,” he said.
The US-China rivalry, which began with a trade war, has spilled over into a host of areas, including ideology, and sparked comparisons with the Cold War.
Talking about the Communist Party of China in July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “the free world must triumph over this new tyranny”.
Beijing responded by publishing three pages of rebuttals in party mouthpiece People’s Daily along with criticisms of American policy on race and wealth distribution.
The two countries have also been flexing their military muscle in the western Pacific and South China Sea.
Yan said Beijing should refrain from criticising other countries’ political systems.
“The relevant departments should have the awareness to respect other people’s political systems and suppress their arrogance of demeaning their political systems,” he said.
Although Yan is highly regarded in the academic circles, there is little evidence of his suggestions being picked up by Beijing.
In April he appealed to China’s diplomats to stop making the claim that the country’s one-party system had been central to its success in managing the spread of the coronavirus, but with little impact.
More from South China Morning Post:
- China-US rivalry: Asian countries fear getting caught in a new cold war
- China-US decoupling, ideological hatred hurts both sides: Beijing’s top envoy
- US-China relations: Beijing should contain ‘extreme nationalism’, ex-diplomat warns
- Pompeo asks ‘Quad’ allies to stand against China’s ‘corruption, coercion’
This article US-China rivalry: Beijing should stop picking ideological battles with Washington, academic says first appeared on South China Morning Post