Editor's note: The article is an edited translation of a commentary that was first published on People's Daily on May 17, 2019.
China's rapid development has been hailed by the international community as a “miracle of China.” However, some senior American officials have claimed that it was the U.S. that “rebuilt” China over the past 25 years. The claims make no sense at all.
According to some Americans, China's success derived from the state manipulation of the country's exchange rate and the consequent trade imbalance between China and the U.S. They claimed that “the U.S. has run a huge deficit with China over the past two decades and gifted China an immense amount of wealth” and thus came to the conclusion that China's success was largely built on the investment of the U.S. in China and they totally ignored the hard work of the Chinese people over the decades.
The idea of “rebuilding China” reveals the deep-rooted “savior complex” of some Americans.
The trade deficit between the U.S. and China emerged because of the comparative strengths of the two countries and the international division of labor. China has been conducting its foreign trade in compliance with market rules and in a fair manner. Stephen Roach, former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, pointed out that the U.S. runs trade deficits with 102 countries in the world. So has the U.S. "rebuilt" these 102 countries as well?
The China-U.S. bilateral trade is by no means a so-called “one-way street” where wealth only goes from the U.S. to China. According to reports issued by third parties such as the Deutsche Bank, from the perspective of commercial interests, the U.S. has in fact gained more commercial net benefits than China from their two-way trade. The China-U.S. trade and economic cooperation is mutually beneficial in essence. No one is happy to do a loss-making deal, let alone those Americans who are champions of “America First.”
Since 1987, China has accumulatively utilized foreign capital of more than 2 trillion U.S. dollars. Investment from the U.S. was 81.36 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 4.06 percent.
In fact, since the “rebuilding China” claims were brought up, the U.S. fact-checking website PolitiFact said that it is an “overly simplistic casting” of the economic relationship between China and the U.S. Scott Lincicome, a scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute who specializes in international trade politics, said that trade with all countries, including the U.S., has been part of a major market reform that has lifted millions out of poverty in China. Reforms to property and taxation have been much more fundamental.
One country has to rely on itself for development. A country with a population of 1.4 billion cannot be expected to grow strong on others' almsgiving and charity. Moreover, no country has what it takes to “rebuild” China. China has made remarkable achievements because it has the right leadership of the Communist Party of China and the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, because it is committed to deepening comprehensive reform and opening-up, and because the Chinese people are hardworking and full of wisdom.
China does not pursue development with its doors closed. Instead, what it has been doing is seeking mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation with others with its doors wide open. While developing itself, China continues to open its market and increase its outbound investment, which also creates more opportunities for other countries in the world, the U.S. included. A Yale University economist believes that without China's part in the U.S. sovereign debt and corporate investment, the U.S. would not be able to sustain years of growth in the areas of real estate, defense and business. In this highly interconnected world, it is hard to say who is rebuilding or being rebuilt.
There is no such thing as "Savior U.S." Instead of embarrassing themselves by making groundless claims, some Americans should acknowledge the facts, stop making accusations against China, and do something to contribute to positive trade relations between China and the U.S.