Why the West’s resentment of China is so misguided


A woman takes a picture of red lanterns and decorations on display in the trees ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2024. IMAGE/AP Photo/Andy Wong

Over the past few years, some western commentators have proclaimed the “decline of China.” They argue China’s economy is failing, its youth are alienated and unemployed, it abuses human rights and represses its people and its demographic decline means that China will never rise to surpass western power.

The subtext of this focus on China’s problems is that western domination of the world will continue, proving the superiority of the West’s political and economic ideologies.

These eulogies for China are premature, at best.

Economists in the West don’t fully understand western economies, let alone China’s, and western states have numerous fundamental problems of their own.

Drumbeat of negativity

China is experiencing economic headwinds as it transitions to a new model of economic development. It is also contending with western economic and technological sabotage.

How well China manages these forces remains to be seen.

An objective analysis of China’s economy is required, but the constant drumbeat of negativity emerging from the West makes that difficult. Some of it is a concerted propaganda campaign, financed by the United States, to undermine America’s biggest competitor. But the trend also reflects the western world’s racial and political anxieties and its profound insecurities about its own failures and decline.

For hundreds of years, the West has used imperialism and violence to construct an international system that ensures its prosperity and prioritizes its interests. Keeping the Global South subservient to a Eurocentric world order has been critical to this strategy.

Israel’s attack on Gaza, killing tens of thousands of Palestinians — along with the associated American and British bombings of Yemen, Iraq and Syria — are contemporary manifestations of this phenomenon.

China’s rise is the first time in modern history that a non-European state beyond western control is economically eclipsing the West. The “yellow peril” is back, and the West will now need to compromise and negotiate with a powerful, non-western entity.

It cannot simply impose its will on the Global South, though the American campaign against China is an effort to re-establish this status quo.

To the West, this was not how it was supposed to be.

The Conversation for more

Comments are closed.