TOP

Bernie Sanders: 'Don’t Start a New Cold War With China'

Foreign Affairs

Malcolm Riddell

|

CHINADebate

|

Bernie Sanders | United States Senator

Bernie Sanders: 'Don’t Start a New Cold War With China'
Bernie Sanders: 'Don’t Start a New Cold War With China'
Book
Interview
'

'

|

|
Interview

|

|

BIG IDEA | ‘The pendulum of conventional wisdom in Washington has now swung from being far too optimistic about the opportunities presented by unfettered trade with China to being far too hawkish about the threats posed by the richer, stronger, more authoritarian China that has been one result of that increased trade.’
‘I believe it is important to challenge this new consensus about China—just as it was important to challenge the old one.’

‘The pendulum of conventional wisdom in Washington has now swung from being far too optimistic about the opportunities presented by unfettered trade with China to being far too hawkish about the threats posed by the richer, stronger, more authoritarian China that has been one result of that increased trade.’

Twenty years ago, the American economic and political establishment was wrong about China.’

  • ‘Today, the consensus view has changed, but it is once again wrong.’

‘Now, instead of extolling the virtues of free trade and openness toward China, the establishment beats the drums for a new Cold War, casting China as an existential threat to the United States.’

  • ‘We are already hearing politicians and representatives of the military-industrial complex using this as the latest pretext for larger and larger defense budgets.’

‘I believe it is important to challenge this new consensus—just as it was important to challenge the old one.’

  • ‘Organizing our foreign policy around a zero-sum global confrontation with China, however, will fail to produce better Chinese behavior and be politically dangerous and strategically counterproductive.’

‘The rush to confront China has a very recent precedent: the global “war on terror.” ’

  • ‘In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the American political establishment quickly concluded that antiterrorism had to become the overriding focus of U.S. foreign policy.’
  • 'Almost two decades and $6 trillion later, it’s become clear that national unity was exploited to launch a series of endless wars that proved enormously costly in human, economic, and strategic terms and that gave rise to xenophobia and bigotry in U.S. politics—the brunt of it borne by American Muslim and Arab communities.’
  • ‘The experience of the last two decades should have shown us that Americans must resist the temptation to try to forge national unity through hostility and fear.’

‘The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has rightly recognized the rise of authoritarianism as a major threat to democracy.’

  • ‘The primary conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, however, is taking place not between countries but within them—including in the United States.’

‘And if democracy is going to win out, it will do so not on a traditional battlefield but by demonstrating that democracy can actually deliver a better quality of life for people than authoritarianism can.’

  • ‘Creating true security and prosperity for working people in the United States and China alike demands building a more equitable global system that prioritizes human needs over corporate greed and militarism.’
  • ‘In the United States, handing billions more in taxpayer dollars to corporations and the Pentagon while inflaming bigotry will not serve these goals.’

‘Americans must not be naive about China’s repression, disregard for human rights, and global ambitions.’

  • ‘I strongly believe that the American people have an interest in strengthening global norms that respect the rights and dignity of all people—in the United States, in China, and around the world.’

‘I fear, however, that the growing bipartisan push for a confrontation with China will set back those goals and risks empowering authoritarian, ultranationalistic forces in both countries.’

  • ‘It will also deflect attention from the shared common interests the two countries have in combating truly existential threats such as climate change, pandemics, and the destruction that a nuclear war would bring.’

‘Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with China will not be easy.’

  • ‘But we can do better than a new Cold War.’
Go to
The Big Ideas