Is the Shadow of "McCarthyism" Rising Again?-Xinhua

Is the Shadow of "McCarthyism" Rising Again?

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-03-28 10:23:28

By Xin Ping

The U.S. House of Representatives.

365 VS 65.

The China Select Committee was established.

In only three days after taking office, the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy has eagerly showed his tough stance on China by creating the China Select Committee. This committee is responsible for investigating and making policy recommendations on China's economic, technological and security developments and its competition with the U.S. Apart from attracting support and attention, the essence of the committee is to cater to the anxiety and fear in the U.S. about China's rapid development, introducing anti-China rhetoric, strengthening and stimulating this irrational sentiment, and trying to push China-U.S. relations into the abyss.

Just look at McCarthy's remarks on establishing the China Select Committee:

“One of my greatest worries about the future is that we fall behind Communist China. The fact of the matter is – the danger posed by our dependence on China is dire.” “China has exported oppression, aggression, and anti-Americanism.”

Is there a sense of time confusion? With just a few changes of words, this lurid speech could serve as the political speech of the last “McCarthy”, the infamous U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In the 1950s, Joseph McCarthy proposed an anti-communist political line, launching campaigns to persecute left-wing forces, arousing people’s hatred of communism, and leading to the formulation of the Cold War policy of the U.S. government after World War II. This white terror movement, known as McCarthyism, pushed the U.S. into a five-year “dark age” and caused great harm to American democratic progressives. Since then, McCarthyism has become synonymous with malicious personal attacks in American politics. It also represents an unbearable history of Washington, a gloomy wind of the Cold War, a sickness of the American system, and a painful lesson for Americans. Washington should have deeply reflected on McCarthyism and tried to avoid its resurgence.

Spanning 70 years, the U.S. has gone from one “McCarthy” to another. The two “McCarthys” have the same discourse style, Cold War rhetoric, paranoid anti-communist logic and strong ideological overtones. History surprises us with this astonishing similarity. And the cycle which the U.S. has entered into is worrisome. It obviously reflects the retrogression of American politics, the confusion of its diplomacy and the closed nature of its strategic thinking.

Before the mid-term elections last year, Kevin McCarthy, the incumbent Speaker of the House, promised to set up a special committee to investigate the origin of COVID-19 and study how to defeat China in areas such as trade, supply chain security, intellectual property protection, and so on. McCarthy supports U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Not only did he support the then House Speaker Pelosi's decision to visit Taiwan in August 2022, he himself also stated that he was “willing to do so as the speaker.” As early as May 2020, McCarthy announced the establishment of the “China Task Force”, declaring to deal with China's “attacks” on the U.S. at all levels.

Unlike 70 years ago, when the two parties were sometimes able to maintain unity, the current political internal friction in the U.S. is much more serious, and the struggle between the two parties as well as the reorganization of forces within the parties have become more intense. In the context of political polarization, intensified social division, flooding of false information, sharp cultural conflicts, and frequent gun violence incidents, American politicians turn to blame China's system, policies, behaviors and values for their own problems and ills. The more difficulties and challenges they encounter, the more they choose to resort to external causes. They even indulge in strategic illusions, trying to use the “China threat” to inspire internal unity, and to go back to the Cold War toolbox for a solution. 

However, Washington's practice of blaming others will not only fail to serve as a self-cure, but also seriously consume the strength of the country, making it decline faster. If it does not reflect on itself in time, the U.S. may eventually become terminally ill and incurable.

Those who suffered most from McCarthyism were the American people and the U.S. itself. Today, the shadow of “McCarthyism” is rising from the ashes of the Cold War and manifested through another “McCarthy”. History is full of coincidences. Is this also a special way to send warnings to the U.S.? Differences in ideology and political system should not become barriers to exchanges between countries, but has Washington really got it?

(The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for CGTN, Global Times, Xinhua News Agency, etc., who can be reached at

The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Xinhuanet.