By Zhong Sheng
The US administration always blames other countries for “violating rules” as long as its “America first” strategy malfunctions or its hegemony fails to work.
Martin Wansleben, Chief Executive of the Association of German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, compared such overbearing philosophy of Washington to a football game in which the US dribbles the ball with hands and drives into the goal, saying it is playing by American football rules.
Over the last year, the US has widely provoked trade disputes by raising tariffs, like “a bull in a china shop”, trampling on the rule-based multilateral trading system and neglecting laws and orders. It is the largest “troublemaker” of the international society.
The China-US trade disputes are initiated by Washington under the domestic laws of the US after the country bypassed the dispute settlement body of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The imposition of additional tariffs on a wide range of Chinese commodities without the authorization from the WTO is a betrayal of its promises and disrespect to the WTO rules. By doing so, the US is arbitrarily elevating the unilateral rules above the international rules.
Showing its muscles on the world trade arena, the US has always been changing its mind. It sometimes blamed the WTO rules for making it lose, and sometimes labeled other countries with rule-violation. It even threatened to dispel other countries from the WTO.
Washington is really making utmost efforts in this drama, but there is still no one applauding for such an awkward performance.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk has once expressed his dislike for and concern of the arbitrary act of the US. He said the rules-based global order is clearly under threat, and it’s shocking that the threat was made by the US who took the lead to build the orders.
Taking international rules as a tool, the US has always been using whatever that suits its interests and abandoning whatever that does not. The hostility held by the US administration against international rules is astonishing, which has even become a signature of the country’s diplomatic policies.
The US consecutively withdrew from a series of international organizations including UNESCO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Universal Postal Union, as well as a number international treaties such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris Agreement, the Global Compact for Migration, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes.
Besides, it also requested for a renegotiation on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
The unilateral acts of the US have brought huge challenges to international rules and global governance. Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister said that when America actually did preside over a unipolar world, it generally preferred to act through multilateral institutions; but now that the world is becoming more multipolar, it is going it alone.
The US obsession with violating international rules comes from its mindset to gain private interests by hegemony. Such mindset is perfectly reflected by remarks made by John Robert Bolton, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs of the US: “If I were redoing the Security Council today, I’d have one permanent member because that’s the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world.”
The US believes it could defeat its opponents by hegemony, and even claimed that the exertion of extreme pressure is more effective than multilateral system, and tariffs work better than rule-building.
Washington, by challenging rules through hegemony, is hoping to crush the established orders. However, in today’s world, problems can only be resolved through negotiation, as the days when power ruled have gone.
Currently, the world pattern is going through rapid changes with multi-polarization. Given the increasing international issues and growing demand for a global rule system, the US, sticking to unilateralism, will only make troubles for other countries and itself. It is destined to lose if it maintains the arbitrary act of rule violation, and “to make America great again” will only become a joke.
The trend of global development is never be changed by any country. When the US is focusing on damaging the rules, the others are taking counteractions. An American media outlet once warned Washington about the high prices to “move the goal posts”, as the practice of the US to overthrow the norms of international relations is reducing the dependence of US partners on the country.
Another media outlet commented bluntly that America is still a big kid, but not the only one in the economic world. The risk is that considered as a bully, this big kid might be isolated by peers who are scared by the bullying practices.
Chinese people have an old saying that “nothing is more beneficial than stability, and nothing is more detrimental than chaos.” The US is the largest economy and the most influential major country in the world, so it should shoulder its responsibilities when making policies and remarks, and contribute to stability rather than chaos.
To safeguard multilateralism and the rule-based multilateral trading system is a fundamental part of the world’s common interests and a common aspiration of each country. The US violation of the rules is damaging the welfare of the world and the legitimate rights of each country.
Such arbitrary practices will never be supported or end well. If the US maintains its practices regardless of all oppositions, it will embark on a wrong path which only leads to only one destination – failure.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy)
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