On February 2, 2021, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times, posted an essay he wrote titled "What Are China And The United States Competing For?" about the nature of the China-U.S. rivalry on his WeChat account.
In it, he stated that both China and the U.S. have a political need to prove the superiority of their systems, but that "at least at this stage," China does not have the "strategic ambition" to destroy Western capitalism. The rivalry between the two, he wrote, focuses mainly on the "right to development," i.e. the U.S. geopolitical desire to contain China's rapid development and return to the center of world development, versus the Chinese people's desire for a better life. "Our development must be faster than the U.S.'s in the long run; this is not only a political desire, but also an inevitable expression of the Chinese people's desire to live a good life manifested at the national level," Hu wrote.
He went on to explain that the Chinese web widely reflects the belief that the Trump administration's strategic crackdown on China over the past four years had not only failed, but had made China more united and cohesive than ever before. For this reason, he said, Chinese netizens had nicknamed Trump "Chuan Jianguo" ("Build-the-Country Trump"). Commenting on the new U.S. administration, Hu wrote that Chinese netizens have nicknamed President Joe Biden "Bai Zhenhua" (Reinvigorate-China Biden). If Trump had failed to keep China down, he added, Biden has even fewer means and fewer resources to do so than were available four years ago.
Below is a full translation of Hu Xijin's essay, published February 2:
(Source: Hu Xijin's Wechat account)
"Our Development Must Be Faster Than The U.S.'s In The Long Run"
"Old Hu would first like to say that China and the U.S. are two countries with superpowers; both countries are highly complex, and their rivalry is equally complex. I think it would be a bit simplistic to describe the Sino-U.S. relationship in terms of competition between civilizations, or institutional competition alone.
"I think what underpins the competition between the two countries is the comprehensive strength with which each country has been gifted, from their political systems to their civilizational genes. Both China and the U.S. have a political need to prove the superiority of their systems, but I think that China's need is inward-looking, to consolidate Chinese self-confidence, and not to actually outshine the U.S. At least at this stage, China does not have the strategic ambition to destroy Western capitalism. The primary stage of socialism is long-lasting and transcends a lifetime and the collective space-time perception of present generations. Therefore, for the Chinese, different systems can coexist without being mutually hostile.
"So, what are China and the U.S. competing for? I think at this stage the main competition is over the right to development.
"In other words, China must continue to develop in order to meet the people's demand for a better life, and it must do so as soon as possible. But the U.S. wants China to bring its development to a halt so that it itself can become the center of world development again. This reflects not only its [the U.S.'s] natural desire for development, but is also interwoven with deep U.S. concerns about China's development from a geopolitical perspective.
"In short, Old Hu believes that Americans will feel safe only if U.S. development accelerates and its GDP growth rate continues to rise as China's GDP growth rate decreases. But the Chinese do not wish for this. Our development must be faster than the U.S.'s in the long run; this is not only a political desire, but also an inevitable expression of the Chinese people's desire to live a good life manifested at the national level."
"Trump Failed To Keep China Down, And Today Biden Has Fewer Means And Fewer Resources To Pressure China Than Were Available Four Years Ago"
"Some people online say that Trump's four years in office actually created a strategic opportunity for China, so Chinese netizens nicknamed him 'Chuan Jianguo.' As Old Hu sees it, Trump's policy of containing China definitely caused unexpected pressure on China and was highly detrimental to China's development. There is no question that he had a negative influence on China's development.
"But China is strong, clear-headed, and hardworking. We focused on getting our own house in order as the basic line of response to the U.S. strategic crackdown, and we really did pull through. In the meantime, the Trump administration has 'messed up' the U.S., upending many Chinese people's past idolization of the American system, and the U.S. crackdown has awakened some Chinese people from their illusions. Chinese society has become more united and cohesive than ever before – an important spiritual resource for China's subsequent rapid and stable long-term development. In this sense, the Trump administration has indeed brought strategic benefits to our country.
"In the grand scheme of things, I think this is a strategic vision that goes beyond short term gains and losses; it is a kind of philosophical discernment with a touch of history. Of course, when some people online say this it can come down to simply being a kind of self-encouragement in the midst of difficulty, a candid expression of confidence. But their claims are validated by important results: By the time Trump left the White House, China had made breakthroughs in every hard indicator, compared to the day he entered the White House. There is no doubt that this guy really deserves to be called 'Chuan Jianguo.'
"As for Biden, Chinese netizens have once again come up with a nickname, calling the incoming president 'Bai Zhenhua.' We all know that the Biden administration will continue a policy of strategic repression against China, and many people have such fears. But Trump failed to keep China down, and today Biden has fewer means and fewer resources to pressure China than were available four years ago – and that is the key. Trump and Pompeo exhausted the tricks that can be used to suppress China. Biden's team only has room to make some technical adjustments towards détente which they believe will help American interests. As for how they will eventually adjust [U.S. policy], we'll wait and see how courageous and wise they really are."
 Bit.ly/3oXKkgi, February 2, 2021.
 The "primary stage of socialism" (社会主义初级阶段), originally proposed by Mao Zedong and later elaborated by top officials and Party theorists, is used to justify the Party-State's deviation from orthodox Marxism and the adoption of capitalist methods in a socialist market economy until it develops into a "great socialist modern state."
 "Chuan Jianguo" (川建国), literally "Build-the-Country Trump."
 "Bai Zhenhua" (拜振华), literally "Reinvigorate-China Biden."