US ‘clash of civilizations’ leads nowhere

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File Photo: Chinese flags and American flags are displayed in a company in Beijing on Aug. 16, 2017. Xinhua/AFP

Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning at the US Department of State, said on April 29 that Washington is formulating a strategy against China based on the idea of “a fight with a really different civilization.” This has triggered dissenting voices inside the US. It seems that the US Department of State led by Mike Pompeo is inciting hostility toward China as well as the Chinese civilization.

The plan mentioned by Skinner is clearly centered on Western civilization and discriminates against Chinese civilization. It is also a false summarization of Western civilization, as the basic orientation of civilization is harmony, tolerance and mutual benefit, rather than exclusion, egotism and gunboat diplomacy.

Today’s world is vastly different from that of the early 1990s when US political scientist Samuel Huntington put forward his thesis “Clash of Civilizations.” Inter-civilization estrangement and divergence still do exist, but major clashes between civilizations involving state powers are pretty much beyond people’s imagination.

Different civilizations are constantly integrating and sharing intertwined interests. As long as there is basic mutual respect between civilizations, the deep hatred of the Middle Ages surely will never return.

Discrepancies between Chinese and American civilizations are mainly manifest in their social organization and value systems, but Chinese people’s yearning for peace, respect for international rules, and pursuit of equal and friendly cooperation are highly consistent with the world’s mainstream values.

China has long been absent from war and opposes armed expansion. China has never hindered any civilization. Skinner explained, “When we think about the Soviet Union in that competition [the Cold War], in a way, it was a fight within the Western family,” but China represents the first time the US has faced a power rival that is “not Caucasian.”

However, the competition brought about by China is far more moderate and rational than the issues that caused World War II and the Cold War.

The primary purpose of the US is probably to win over fence-sitting Western countries to join Washington in attempting to contain China. Politicians like Pompeo may believe that the very concept of Western civilization can create cohesiveness. Except for certain fanatical political elites inside Washington, few people around the world would welcome battles between civilizations.

Is Washington really worried about Western civilization? On the contrary, over the last two years, the US has precisely and severely harmed Western civilization and trampled on international rules universally acknowledged by the West. Chinese society has always respected Western civilization, and learning from the West has always been one of the collective creeds of Chinese intellectuals.

Friction between China and the West has mainly resulted from China’s opposition to the West’s interference in China’s internal affairs. The Chinese people are not egotistical, and have no ambition to dominate the world with China’s social value system.

Hence, fights between civilizations will never occur. Striking a balance between China and the US is in the best interest of the West and all other countries and regions around the world rather than siding with the US to contain China. The US Department of State led by Pompeo is trying to mislead the world, but the world is not as stupid as they think it is.

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