Is China an ideological rival? Is the country challenging Western ideology by exporting its values, political system and development ideas? With China's rise, these issues have increasingly raised concerns from some Western politicians, observers and media outlets. They stubbornly believe that as China rises in a different model from that of the West, it will inevitably pose a threat to Western values, economy and security, thus undermine the current international order.
Australian Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, an infamous China hawk, on Thursday warned Australia against underestimating China, comparing the West's attitude to China to France's inadequate defence against Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He also argued that the West has ignored the role of Communist ideology in China's foreign policies.
The explosive comments show Hastie's strong ideological prejudice against China. China and Australia have no major conflicts of interest. Instead, the two countries have maintained a close economic relationship. It's perplexing why some Australian political elites are so fearful and paranoid about China. In the US, Kiron Skinner, the State Department's director of policy planning, trumpeted China is an "ideological competitor" that seeks a kind of global reach. It's obvious some Westerners, especially some ideological extremists, are misreading and misinterpreting China.
China has no strategic motive to export ideology or values, nor does it have the will to subvert the existing international order. China pursues a defence policy that is purely defensive in nature. It has expanded global footprints through developing win-win cooperation with other countries. The warnings against communist ideology in China's foreign policies are totally redundant. China has long insisted on that foreign policies serve the domestic economy, trying to avoid ideological differences which may affect foreign relations.
The fear of some Westerners toward China's rise is out of their ideological prejudice. Their obsession with Western centrism makes them unable to view China's rise in an objective manner. They are stuck in stereotypes that Western ideologies, political systems and civilizations are superior to others and should be emulated. However, no ideology can claim to be superior to others.
Believing their ideologies and civilizations were superior, the British colonists slaughtered indigenous Australians. They even thought the massacre removed the inferior people. Such an ideology of Western superiority was similar to that of Adolf Hitler.
Now, some Westerners believe in the absolute superiority of Western civilisation. This is a type of extremism. In reality, such a mind-set can easily cause frictions, even conflicts, between different civilisations, making it a serious global challenge.
With the rapid rise of non-Western countries, especially Asian countries, the comparative advantage of the West has become weakened. Some Westerners have thus become even more sensitive and narrow-minded. Their vigilance, mistrust and hostility toward other civilisations have exacerbated. They should learn to face up to and adapt to the rise of non-Western civilisations. It's fair to say ideological extremists stuck to Western centrism are the biggest security threats to the world, as there are risks they might provoke a war.
Due to the rhetoric that fuelled the "China threat" theory of some Australian politicians, China-Australia relations have been strained in recent years. Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this month that repairing bilateral relations has been "unsatisfactory." Canberra should be mindful, and not allow radical politicians like Hastie to derail the reset of the bilateral ties.
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