Do We Really Need to Have a Cold War With China?

March 30, 2023


By Jacob Dreyer

Mr. Dreyer is an American editor and writer who lives in Shanghai.


“SHANGHAI — I wore red underpants for much of last year.

It was the Year of the Tiger, my Chinese zodiac sign, when tradition says that ill fortune will seek you out. Red underwear is supposed to keep you safe because Chinese demons supposedly fear the color red.

It didn’t work.

It was a rough year. For most of 2022, we remained sealed off from the world by China’s strict pandemic policy. Shanghai, my home for the past decade, endured a particularly traumatic Covid lockdown that kept us confined at home for two months starting in late March, scrambling to obtain groceries. While locked down, we found out that my wife, who is Chinese, was pregnant. It took a combination of bluster and desperate pleas to local officials to get us to a hospital for a prenatal checkup.

When the lockdown ended last June, I emerged, blinking into the sunlight, to find that China had been transformed into America’s enemy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was calling China a threat to “universal values” in language that made me think of the U.S. containment policy toward the former Soviet Union. The rhetoric has only hardened since then. Today China is labeled an “existential” threat to the United States; there is talk of a new cold war.

Really? Must we wage a new cold war?”

David Lindsay: Terrible piece, excellent top comments. Like the top one. Writer has no idea of what CCP is doing in the South China Sea for example.

Here is the top comment:

An Indonesian

Guess Where March 30

It’s this kind of focus on the superficialities of American cultural influence that’s trapped my own country in a loop of delusion regarding the 1998 ‘revolution’, which was in reality more a series of happy accidents than any genuinely systemic change. Many Indonesians are unconsciously under the impression that Starbucks, iPhones, the development of a ‘modern’ (read: bland and Instagrammable) aesthetic, entrepeneurship, and the copious use of marketing buzzwords somehow means that our days of tyranny, oligarchy, and reactionarism are behind us. The author is in the same frame of mind. Yes, there’s no need for a Cold War from where he writes, but that’s because he doesn’t bother to turn to the east and look to the sea, or to turn to the north and look to Beijing. He does not turn to the west and look to Xinjiang nor does he turn to the south and look at the faded, crushed city of Hong Kong; he merely looks down at the coffee shop menu before him.8 Replies234 Recommended