Reporter Journal / Chen Weihua

US again shows it's a disruptive superpower

By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-10-16 10:44

In the past few years, I have heard people in the United States, including some senior administration officials, describe China as a disruptive power and a country that wants to change the status quo and international norms.

Such malign accusations were made despite the fact that China has never done anything nearly as disruptive as the US did in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries in the past two decades.

Countless lives have been lost since the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, in 2001 and 2003. While the two countries were devastated by the invasion, wars in the two countries have not ended even today.

The past week has again displayed how disruptive a superpower can be to the world.

On Thursday, the US State Department announced it had notified Irina Bokova, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), of the US' decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO.

It attributed the decision to US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO. Under the UNESCO Constitution, the US withdrawal will take effect on Dec 31, 2018.

The US has stopped paying its annual dues to UNESCO since the Palestinian Authority was admitted as a member in 2011. It is not the first time that the US has withdrawn from the UN body. The last time it did so was during the Reagan administration; the US rejoined only in 2003, under President George W. Bush, after 19 years of separation.

A day after the US decision to quit UNESCO, US President Donald Trump laid out his Iran strategy. He declared on Friday that he will not certify that Iran has abided by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement to halt the Iranian nuclear program signed in 2015 by Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France, plus Germany and the European Union.

Instead of focusing on the Iranian nuclear deal, Trump delivered a harsh speech condemning everything Iran has done over the decades. If that is the case, I probably also should go back in history, such as how inhumane it was when the US military used Agent Orange widely in its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War, or how the US in past decades has funded and armed rebels and opposition forces to oust legitimate foreign governments that it did not like.

Trump's unilateral decision on Friday, however, was roundly condemned on Saturday by friends and foes alike, according to a report by the Guardian. Leaders of the UK, France and Germany issued a statement vowing their commitment to the deal, signed after more than a decade of joint global efforts, including a major contribution by China.

China and Russia have opposed Trump's position.

"China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue has been consistent. The JCPOA has played a key role in upholding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and the peace and stability of the Middle East region. We hope that all relevant parties will continue to uphold and implement the JCPOA," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Friday.

In fact, last week's decisions by the US came four months after Trump announced US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, signed in 2015 by 195 countries.

The Trump administration argued that the Paris accord is "unfair" because countries such as India and China are not required to do anything until 2030. However, the US climate experts I have interviewed praised China and India for their enthusiasm, efforts and progress. Both China and India have been quite ambitious in developing clean energy.

So far, the US behavior has been largely described as isolationism or a rejection of multilateralism, words that are much too polite.

We should call it what it is. It is a superpower that shows no respect for international bodies and agreements, and a superpower that recklessly abuses its power against the will of the entire global community. It is by far a disruptive power.

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