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Jeffrey Sachs: Trip undermines China's trust in US

By LINDA DENG in Seattle | orisox.com | Updated: 2022-08-06 03:17
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Activists from Pivot to Peace, ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace and leaders of the Chinese community in San Francisco hold a demonstration in front of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office at the San Francisco Federal Building on Monday. [Photo by LIA ZHU/CHINA DAILY]

Calling US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan "deeply misconceived and harmful", economist Jeffrey Sachs said it also has undermined China's trust in US policies.

Sachs said that President Joe Biden could have and should have countermanded Pelosi's trip.

"As commander in chief, Biden could simply have prevented the use of US military aircraft to fly Pelosi to Taiwan. The outcome would have been much better for all parties," Sachs told China Daily in a recent written interview.

He said the visit showcased "an utter absence of leadership" from Biden and that "US foreign policy is adrift".

"The US government is trying to maintain US primacy in all regions of the world, but it lacks the effective means to do this. It should be aiming for cooperation rather than primacy," said Sachs, a professor who is director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York City.

Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday, the highest US elected official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years.

During her stay on the island, Pelosi expressed support for "Taiwan independence", visited the legislature in Taipei and met with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen.

"She is foolish in making these statements and intemperate in her actions. Her Taiwan trip was very ill advised and harmful to all of the parties," Sachs said.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Aug 2, Pelosi claimed that her trip "in no way contradicts the long-standing one-China policy".

China considers Pelosi's visit a serious violation of the one-China principle and has since taken a number of countermeasures, including staging military drills near Taiwan, conducting large-scale air and naval activities, and suspending natural sand exports to Taiwan and the importing of some farm produce from the island.

The result of the United States' desire for primacy is an aggressive attitude toward Russia and China, with the US hoping to contain or destabilize both nations, said Sachs.

"For this purpose, the US has been promoting NATO enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia, as well as new military alliances in Asia, such as AUKUS," he said.

Sachs believes that Pelosi's trip fit into that aggressive framework.

"America's aggressive policy towards China is similarly destabilizing and not in the real US interest. The US should be aiming for cooperation with China and peaceful relations with Russia," he said.

Sachs disagrees with Biden's view that the great challenge of the world is the democracies versus the autocracies, and that the aggressive attitude toward Russia, China, Iran and others has complicated the geopolitical situation.

"It divides the world rather than uniting it for the common good. The great challenges of the world are peace, climate change, sustainable development, arms control and public health, and these all require global cooperation, not divisions," Sachs said.

He suggested that the Biden administration re-establish a foreign policy based on constructive diplomacy, including negotiations to end the military conflict in Ukraine and opening a dialogue with China to restore a balanced, constructive relationship.

"He should understand that the current US approach is very dangerous and is destabilizing the global economy while unnerving countries all around the world," Sachs said. "Of course, he should explain the need for global cooperation to the American people."

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