China: The Blame Game


When China first opened itself up to the U.S. and the world in the late 1970s after three decades of isolation and domestic political turmoil, it was poor, modest, deferential, friendly, eager to learn and catch up, especially economically. Now China is the world’s second largest economy and has been the largest in terms of PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) since 2016. According to an Information Technology & Innovation Foundation report, as of 2020, China was the world’s leading producer in seven strategically important industries:  computers and electronics; chemicals; machinery and equipment; motor vehicles; basic metals; fabricated metals; and electrical equipment. Meanwhile the U.S. led in three key industries: pharmaceuticals, IT and IT services, and other transportation.

The ITIF report also found that China’s innovation and advanced-industry output in 2020 was 139 percent of that in the U.S., and that China was evolving from an imitator to an innovator. China leads also in EVs, batteries, solar panels, drones, rare earth minerals, ship building, high-speed rail, etc.  Its TikTok is giving American politicians headaches.

Arrogant is now the word for China, or Xi Jinping, or Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Secretary, in dealing with the U.S.

In an official photo of Xi Jinping meeting and talking with Secretary Blinken and his party, Xi sits in the middle with American diplomats on his right and the Chinese diplomats on his left, as if he is the head of both sides. He told the Americans, as he had told the Chinese youth about life in general and the bilateral relations, the importance of a shirt button. He said, “This is a fundamental issue that must be addressed, just like the first button of a shirt that must be put right, in order for the China-U.S. relationship to truly stabilize, improve, and move forward.”  Having been briefed ahead by the Foreign Ministry of Xi’s shirt button admonition, a Global Times editorial had this headline on the day Secretary Blinken arrived in China on April 24, “Before landing, Blinken should ‘do his first button right.’”

Similarly, Foreign Minister Wang Yi scolded the U.S. at a news conference in Beijing in March, “It has to be pointed out that the U.S. side’s erroneous perception of China continues, and the promises it has made have not really been fulfilled.” Meeting with Blinken a few days ago, Wang said the two countries had to decide whether they should be partners or rivals, and “If the U.S. constantly regards China as its main rival,” he emphasized, “China-U.S. relations are bound to remain fraught with troubles and problems.”

Regarding the issues raised by American officials — China’s overcapacity of its industrial production to flood the world market, such as EVs, solar panels, etc. — by Yellen, or China’s providing components from machine tools to microelectronics powering Russia’s war against Ukraine, by Blinken. China’s ready answer was to dismiss and push back.

China’s Xinhua News, for instance, accused the U.S. of double-standard in its pursuit of market economy: “Whenever U.S. industries are in an advantageous position, Washington champions the omnipotence of the market and free global trade; but when American companies face serious competition, the United States looks the other way, and puts up a protectionist shield.”

A Xinhua News commentary asked, “The U.S. exports tens of billions of dollars of machinery, equipment, and electronic products to China every year. American farmers produce a large amount of agricultural products and sell them to China. Is this also the U.S.’s ‘excess production capacity’”? Another article questioned the American logic of overcapacity by pointing out that 80% of chips produced in the U.S. and 80% cars produced in Germany were exported, and passenger aircraft produced by Boeing and Airbus were also exported in large quantities. As for Americans’ complaints about China’s government subsidies for industries, China officials gladly pointed out the U.S. subsidies for its EVs as well as its clean-energy industry.

On Russia’s war against Ukraine, Foreign Minister Wang described China’s position this way, “China did not create the Ukraine crisis, nor is it a party to the crisis… China has stayed committed to promoting peace and played a positive role in efforts to restore peace.”

On Secretary Blinken’s concerns about China’s supplying critical components for Russia’s defense industrial base as a problem not only for the U.S., Ukraine, but also Europe, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson responded, in NPR’s paraphrase, “Look, we trade with Russia and you guys aid Ukraine. You’re hypocrites.” In a cartoon published in Global Times, Uncle Sam is pumping fuel onto the Ukraine fire while asking in a thought bubble, “Why can’t China do more to put out the fire?”

In China’s diplomatic statements, the U.S., along with its misperceptions or miscalculations of China, is always to blame for any worsening in the bilateral relations. Foreign Minister Wang likes to quote this Chinese saying, “He who tied the bell should untie it,” meaning the U.S. has to undo what it has done.

There is another Chinese saying, however, that Wang hasn’t cared to quote, “One hand can’t make a clap.”

Wendy Liu
Wendy Liu
Wendy Liu of Mercer Island has been a consultant, translator, writer and interpreter. Her last book was tilted "My first impression of China--Washingtonians' First Trips to the Middle Kingdom."


  1. Well, thank you for this wonderful little puff-piece sponsored by the CCP.

    For starters, using a statement from China’s FM as an attempt to create a moral equivalency between US support for Ukraine (helping a relatively new country with democratic aspirations survive an invading communist aggressor) to China’s trading with Russia (to help expand their military base to defeat Ukraine) is simply disgusting, repulsive and morally reprehensible. There is no hypocrisy to be found here. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    The US should never be so naïve as to think they are “partnering” with China whose primary goal is to simply establish communism as the world’s superior ideological standard by actively subverting democracy through a variety of means. Lying, cheating, and persecution are perfectly acceptable strategies in furtherance of this goal. Such as saying Hong Kong will remain “autonomous.” Or their ridiculous territorial claims to the South China Sea (denied by the Permanent Court of Arbitration). Or using Chinese multinational companies (Huawei) to engage in espionage. Or (most likely) planning to invade Taiwan. Or maintaining authoritarian control internally by persecuting and murdering ethic/religious minorities (Uyghurs).

    I generally don’t care about trade disputes as they’re typically transactional in nature and used as a bargaining chip from an economic and/or political perspective. Except in China’s case “dumping” is part of their long-term strategy to erode America’s industrial base. Nothing high-minded about this.

    There is no “misperception” of China here. We know exactly what China’s goal is and hence there will be no partnership – nor should there be.

    • I think you’ve grossly misread the article. The author shows us what China’s leaders are saying, and relying on the reader to see the deceit. Evidently relying too much, but it would be an awfully long article if it had to include rebuttals for everything, and then the article would start to be about one person’s particular view of the US position in Ukraine etc. The tone of the article is stridently opposed to the Xi regime.

  2. I agree with Donn — This is a clear-eyed assessment of our fraught relations with China. And US voters need to be clear-eyed about the potential for serious worsening of this vital relationship between the world’s two biggest economies with the threat of punitive tariffs that make no sense for the US economy or consumers. We need to deal with the China that exists, not try to force it to change in our image. Regime change has to come from within the country, not executed from outside that leads to forever wars that we lose.

  3. I’ve sure seen some nonsense about making China fear us, through various sanctions, “kick them off SWIFT” etc. As though Biden is letting us down by putting up with them – where to my perception, the Biden administration has been the first to really assert US influence against China for a long time.

    But that said, US globalism in recent decades seems more of benefit to big corporations with offshore operations than to the US citizen. The positive remedy I perceive as Biden’s approach makes sense – building up American industrial base the way China built theirs – there will be cases where negative remedies like tariffs seem like an appropriate tool.

  4. Donn and Carol – well you are correct. I missed one key sentence and misconstrued the tenor of this entire article. My profuse apologies to Ms. Liu, and I will refrain from posting going forward…


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