Think 'sanctions' will trouble China? Then you're stuck in the politics of the past | Ai Weiwei

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The complex history of how China and the US once embraced each other should inform how the current showdown is tackled

The Trump administration has floated the idea of sanctioning Chinese officials and members of the Communist party of China. Before we ask whether this is a good idea, let’s ask how Sino-US relations got to this stage.

The US cold war with the Soviet Union was over ideology, but today’s standoff with China is different. The Chinese state has no ideology, no religion, no moral agenda. It continues wearing socialist garb but only as a face-saving pretence. It has, in fact, become a state-capitalist dictatorship. What the world sees today is a contest between the US system of free-market capitalism and Chinese state capitalism. How should we read this chessboard?

Related: The US and China are entering a new cold war. Where does that leave the rest of us? | Timothy Garton Ash

Ai Weiwei is an artist and activist. This article was translated from Chinese by Perry Link

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