U.S./China relations June 2020 –

Written by  //  November 28, 2020  //  China, U.S.  //  No comments

U.S./China relations May 2019 – June 2020
The US-China trade war: 5 essential reads
The Thucydides Trap:
Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

Biden’s China whisperer
(Bloomberg) Kerry is clearly keen to reprise his role as the Beijing bridge-builder.
“While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests,” he said in the New York Times last month, calling for joint action to protect the Southern Ocean. Geopolitics, he insisted, “must stop at the water’s edge.”
Some critics, however, contend that Kerry, under President Barack Obama, gave up too much in return for Chinese acquiescence on climate—for instance, by soft-pedaling human rights—and they fear a Biden presidency may make the same mistake. ..
But U.S. public attitudes on China have hardened since the Obama days, and few expect a Biden White House will go any easier on China over contentious issues like Uyghur detention camps or the militarization of the South China Sea. Indeed, Biden’s expected pick to head the Pentagon, Michèle Flournoy, is very much the hawk. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs, she suggested that “if the U.S. military had the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours, Chinese leaders might think twice before, say, launching a blockade or invasion of Taiwan.”

16-17 November
Bloomberg: It’s not just the neighbors who are anxious. Pretty much every country is grappling with how to deal with China and wondering how the incoming U.S. administration of Joe Biden might change things.
That global concern shows just how much China’s economic and strategic clout has grown under the presidency of Xi Jinping. Nations face the challenge of how to maximize the benefits — trade, access to cheap loans — without being trapped in Beijing’s orbit, reliant on its largesse and under pressure to give it a pass for its crackdowns on dissent.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton says Xi’s move to abolish term limits, leaving him able to potentially rule indefinitely, has upended the relationship with America.
The question now is how Biden might alter the trajectory between the world’s two biggest economies. Biden is just as much a China critic as Donald Trump — he may take an even harder line. But the China-U.S. trade war hurt many countries. Their strategic scuffles draw in others. Smaller countries feel caught in the middle.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has frequently pointed out those difficulties. In an interview for the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, he said Biden should seek an “overall constructive relationship” with China following “quite a tumultuous ride” under Trump.
Beijing is urging the U.S. to be patient because change in China can take time. Senior regulatory official Fang Xinghai hopes ties will be in a much better place in four years from now.
The rest of the world may hope so as well. — Rosalind Mathieson

America Should Rewrite the China Trade Contract
Arvind Subramanian
America and other countries have no right to obstruct China’s economic rise or dictate its development model. But US President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration can and should revise decades-old trade arrangements with China to take account of changed realities.
(Project Syndicate) Once US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration has made the relatively easy decisions to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, remain in the World Health Organization, and attempt to reboot the World Trade Organization, it will confront three key foreign-policy issues. In order of importance, they are China, China, and China.
Two decades ago, the United States and the rest of the world bet that China, as it became richer, would open up economically and politically, while remaining benign in its international conduct. Under the resulting implicit contract, embodied in China’s 2001 WTO accession agreement, the world promised to guarantee market access for Chinese exports; in return, China would make its economy more open and transparent, and play by international rules.
Under President Xi Jinping, an authoritarian in the mold of Mao Zedong, China has repudiated Deng Xiaoping’s three guiding tenets: collective leadership in domestic politics, steady economic opening and reliance on market forces, and quiet cooperation with the world. Instead, Xi’s repressive regime is fashioning a new brand of inward-oriented, state-dominated capitalism. And it poses a threat to many of its neighbors, including Taiwan, Australia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan.
America can – and should – revise the decades-old contract to account for changed realities. The more China plays by the rules, the more such a revision would benefit developing countries that can trade with it.For starters, China is no longer a poor country, but its status as a developing country entitles it to favorable treatment under global trade rules. This status must be revoked.

3 November
US pushes Greece to stop acting as China’s ‘dragon’s head’ into Europe
Athens under pressure in scramble for influence between Washington and Beijing with high-level visits from both powers
US seeks to counter Chinese influence through Belt and Road Initiative with its own funding alternative

Biden, Trump and China: How the US Election 2020 matters
(SCMP) Biden and many of his foreign policy advisers who served in previous Democratic administrations have often been criticised for being soft on China. But [Orville] Schell, [Arthur Ross director of the New York-based Asia Society’s centre on US-China relations,] described them as “a tough, smart group who believe that Beijing’s present ambitions … are excessive, illegal, dangerous and unacceptable”.
“However, that said, I think that if Beijing and the Communist Party really did want to work out some new frameworks – and not just engage in delaying tactics – these men and women would be a lot better negotiating partners than Donald Trump,” he said.
… Trump on the other hand is likely to be a lame duck president, especially if the [Republican Party] loses its senate majority. As such he is likely to be even more erratic and unbridled than he has been in his first term. For China, the thought of riding the Trump roller coaster for another four years is unsettling, to put it mildly.”

31 October
A Frazzled World Holds Its Breath While the U.S. Chooses Its Leader
(NYT) No country has watched the American election unfold with greater anger and grievance than China — and few have more at stake. Tensions over trade, technology and the coronavirus have brought relations to their worst level since Washington first recognized the People’s Republic in 1979.
Even so, few Chinese officials appear to harbor much hope that a defeat for Mr. Trump would usher in any improvement. Rather, given Mr. Biden’s increasingly hawkish “get tough on China” campaign rhetoric, they seem to be treating him as a more complicated challenge.
But President Xi Jinping appeared to be taking a direct shot at Mr. Trump last week when he said, “In the contemporary world, any unilateralism, protectionism or extreme egoism will never work.”

25 October
Whether Trump or Biden wins, US-China relations look set to worsen
Tensions will persist whoever is in the White House. The key difference, observers expect, will be in approach
(The Guardian) Under the Trump administration, the US has put sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong while also increasing engagement with Taiwan, including arms sales. A trade deal to end a protracted tariff war has stalled and the US has placed more restrictions on Chinese state media.
Biden, who in a presidential debate referred to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, as one of several “thugs” Trump has cosied up to, has also promised to take a strong stance against China.
While tensions will persist under a Biden administration, the key difference, observers expect, will be in approach. Biden has pledged to work with allies to pressure China through the multilateral organisations that Trump has eschewed. Analysts expect the Democratic candidate, if elected, to work with China on issues such as climate change and response to the pandemic.
“We need to be having the rest of our friends with us, saying to China: ‘We play by the rules. You play by them or you are going to pay the price for not playing by them, economically’,” Biden said in Thursday’s debate against Trump.
In contrast, Trump is expected to continue a more confrontational, unilateral strategy that is likely to raise tensions. While Trump’s approach is likely to place more immediate pressure on China, Biden’s is seen by others as more predictable and comprehensive.

24 October
The American Republic vs the CCP—Documentary exposing China’s game plan for 2020 US election
#TikTok—an app often used for entertainment. But could it be a tool for the Chinese Communist Party (#CCP)? And is the CCP using TikTok to manipulate the presidential #election while creating chaos and division in the United States?
Join investigative journalist Simone Gao as she explores the unprecedented danger America now faces from the CCP. She will reveal how Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are used to hijack TikTok’s unique algorithm in order to efficiently spread targeted propaganda to American citizens.
Through interviews with Chinese AI insiders and American military and technology experts, as well as deep research into the effectiveness of prior CCP propaganda efforts, Simone will uncover the extent of the danger TikTok represents.
Does the U.S. have a plan to counter the CCP? And is it enough to save the Republic?
Cleo Paskal: Yes, Virginia, the Trump Administration Does Have a China Strategy
The administration is pursuing a whole-of-government approach to counter China’s concept of Comprehensive National Power.
(Diplomat) …before getting to the administration’s strategy, we need to understand what it is designed to counter — China’s concept of Comprehensive National Power (CNP). Comprehensive National Power is a dominant framework in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) view of the world. CCP think tanks and organizations use it to shape policies and gauge success.
… In an October 21 article for Foreign Affairs, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien detailed some of the many ways Beijing is trying to advance its CNP. They include intellectual property theft, co-opting international organization, using fishing boats for military action, hostage diplomacy, coercive economic policies, use and intimidation of Chinese nationals overseas to advance China’s interests, infiltrating and corrupting foreign education systems, debt traps, bribery, blurring the lines between state, commercial and military activities, and more. Much, much more.

5 October
China Ramps Up a War of Words, Warning the U.S. of Its Red Lines
As the United States and Taiwan draw closer, state propaganda is sending the message that China will go to war if necessary.
(NYT) Chinese propaganda is rarely subtle or particularly persuasive, but the torrent of bombast online and in state media in recent weeks is striking and potentially ominous.
The targets are China’s main adversaries: the United States and Taiwan, which are moving closer and closer together.
The propaganda has accompanied a series of military drills in recent weeks, including the test-firing of ballistic missiles and the buzzing of Taiwan’s airspace. Together, they are intended to draw stark red lines for the United States, signaling that China would not shrink from a military clash.

29 September
Biden set to carve own brand of tough-on-China policy if elected
(Japan Times) If he beats Trump, Biden will need to decide whether to scrap, keep or escalate the billions in tariffs levied against Chinese imports, and whether to stick to or renegotiate the partial trade deal Trump signed in January.
He’d have to determine if his administration continues the sanctions imposed on Chinese officials for their crackdown on human rights in Hong Kong and the western region of Xinjiang and possibly expand those sanctions further.
Biden would also inherit a litany of restrictions to cut off Chinese technology companies’ access to American intellectual property and a patchwork of relationships across the region that could help, or complicate, tensions with China.
On the campaign trail to date, Biden has offered little detail on how he’d deal with China’s economic ascent — perhaps to maintain maximum flexibility should he win the election. In some instances, he may have a hard time undoing existing policy. Both parties in Congress have overwhelmingly been in favor of tougher actions against Beijing on tech, human rights and trade.

2 September
(Foreign Affairs) The Taiwan Strait is “the likeliest site for a clash between the United States and China,” Richard Haass and David Sacks write in a recent essay. They argue that Washington must abandon decades of ambiguity and make “explicit that the United States would respond to any Chinese use of force against Taiwan.” Only a clear security guarantee will “deter an increasingly assertive China with growing military capabilities.”
American Support for Taiwan Must Be Unambiguous
To Keep the Peace, Make Clear to China That Force Won’t Stand

13 August
Richard Haass: To the Brink with China
The chances of a Sino-American cold war are far higher today than they were just months ago. Even worse, the chances of an actual war, resulting from an incident involving the countries’ militaries, are also greater.
(Project Syndicate) Observers of US-China relations increasingly talk of a new cold war. On top of a long-running trade war, the two countries now find themselves in a destructive cycle of mutual sanctions, consulate closings, and increasingly bellicose official speeches. Efforts to decouple the US economy from China’s are underway as tensions mount in both the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.
The good news is that such an outcome is not inevitable. The bad news is the chances of a second cold war are far higher today than they were just months ago. Even worse, the chances of an actual war, resulting from an incident involving the countries’ militaries, are also greater.
… Why is China becoming increasingly assertive now? It could be that President Xi Jinping sees an opportunity to advance Chinese interests while the US is preoccupied with the fallout of COVID-19. Or it could be an outgrowth of China’s desire to distract domestic attention from its initial mishandling of the virus and the economic slowdown exacerbated by the pandemic. This would not be the first time a government turned to nationalism to change the political conversation.A third explanation is the most worrisome. In this interpretation, China’s recent behavior is not so much opportunistic or cynical as representative of a new era of Chinese foreign policy, one that reflects the country’s growing strength and ambitions.

10 August
Jeremy Kinsman: Cold War rhetoric has no place in the reality of the U.S.-China feud
(Globe & Mail) If the U.S. were to restore its tradition of pragmatic multilateralist leadership, Western democracies would surely come together to demand fairness, reciprocity and more transparency from China. But they would certainly still need to recognize the reality of China’s unprecedented rise and success.
Indeed, it isn’t “appeasement” to signal that we are willing to live in peace with another country with a different economic style and political system

9 – 10 August
TikTok: China’s Trojan Horse to Indoctrinate America
by Gordon G. Chang
(Gatestone) At the moment, ByteDance is in negotiations with Microsoft and Twitter to sell TikTok. Yet a sale will not by itself end the threat. Any new owner will have to go over line after line of code to insulate TikTok from Chinese interference.
Even an exhaustive review may not be sufficient, because Beijing will still know the general architecture of the software, thereby facilitating further manipulation of the app. As Dabrowa told Gatestone, “My team discovered that a foreign actor may come in the backdoor and change the feed.”
In the meantime, Trump’s 45-day period, plus the time needed to review software, give China plenty of opportunity to interfere in the upcoming American elections.
That means Trump last week with his executive order may have saved American democracy but maybe not his own presidency.
TikTok Is Inane. China’s Imperial Ambition Is Not.
The U.S. won the Cold War by exporting its values, and China has a similar plan for Cold War II.
By Niall Ferguson
(Bloomberg) TikTok now has 800 million monthly active users around the globe. And it’s far more contagious: Just under half of U.S. teenage internet users have used TikTok. If it were a pathogen, it would be the Black Death. But it’s an app, so ByteDance is now worth $100 billion.
TikTok is not a social network. It’s an AI-based algorithmic feed that uses all the data it can get about each user to personalize content. “By expanding the library of available video from those made by your network to any video made by anyone on the service.
Last November, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known as CFIUS) began a probe into ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly on the ground that it potentially affected U.S. national security.”
I’ve written before in this space about Cold War II. Well, TikTok has become the Sino-American conflict’s latest casualty.
Unlike everything else in America, including Covid-19, Cold War II is bipartisan. Last October, the Senate minority leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer, and Republican Senator Tom Cotton jointly called for a national-security investigation into ByteDance. The issue, they said, is that as a Chinese entity, ByteDance is subject to China’s cybersecurity rules, which stipulate that it has to share data with the Chinese government. TikTok admits as much in its privacy policy: “We may share your information with a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of our corporate group.”
Until last month, Zhang’s game plan was voluntary separation of ByteDance from China. Like other Chinese tech giants, ByteDance is a “variable interest entity” incorporated in the Cayman Islands, positioning it for an offshore initial public offering in Hong Kong or New York. ByteDance claims that all American data from TikTok are stored in U.S. data centers and backed up in Singapore. The appointment in May of Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, as TikTok’s new chief executive and ByteDance’s chief operating officer, was the clearest signal yet of where Zhang was headed.
Then, President Donald Trump blew Zhang’s game plan apart.
On June 30, he threatened to ban TikTok in the U.S. On Monday, when Microsoft appeared set to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations, Trump made the characteristically unorthodox and probably illegal suggestion that the U.S. government should get some kind of arrangement fee. “It’s a little bit like the landlord-tenant,” explained the former real-estate developer from Queens. “Without a lease, the tenant has nothing. So they pay what is called ‘key money’ or they pay something.”
Then on Friday, he issued an executive order banning TikTok in the U.S. in 45 days unless it is sold to a non-Chinese entity. (Tencent Holdings Ltd’s even more popular messaging app WeChat will also be banned.)

28 July
Good round-up of opinion
What Would a Cold War With China Look Like?
U.S.-China ties haven’t been this strained for decades. What happens if they snap?
By Spencer Bokat-Lindell
(NYT) Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a speech that many likened to a declaration of a Cold War against China.
Mr. Pompeo’s speech made plain that the relationship between the two superpowers had reached a nadir in recent months, strained by escalating rounds of diplomatic sanctions and retaliations over territory, intellectual property, trade, the coronavirus, allegations of espionage and the repression in Hong Kong, among other disputes. (China’s mass internment of Muslims in Xinjiang appears not to be playing much of a role.)
Because of how intertwined the Chinese and American economies are, decoupling them would be a very expensive affair, Nathaniel Taplin writes in The Wall Street Journal. Yes, Americans use iPhones and personal protective equipment produced in China, but they also attend universities that after decades of underinvestment are kept afloat by Chinese students who pay full tuition.
“If ‘decoupling’ proceeds, then much more federal funding for basic research — and for U.S. science and math education — may be needed to plug the gap,” Mr. Taplin writes. “That probably means higher taxes and a more welcoming immigration policy for foreign talent from India and other nations to offset a potential Chinese brain drain. Finally, American consumers need to be prepared to pay more for the luxury of a secure and diversified supply chain.”

27 July
Pompeo’s surreal speech on China
Thomas Wright
(Brookings) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo  gave one of the most surreal speeches of the Donald Trump presidency on Thursday. In his speech, titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future,” he declared the failure of 50 years of engagement with China and called for free societies to stand up to Beijing.
[Pompeo] says the U.S. will organize the free world, while alienating and undermining the free world; he extols democracy, while aiding and abetting its destruction at home; and he praises the Chinese people, while generalizing about the ill intent of Chinese students who want to come to America, argues Thomas Wright. This piece originally appeared in The Atlantic.
China’s Claims to the South China Sea Are Unlawful. Now What?
Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to thwart aggressive expansion in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. The solution isn’t flashy, but it could work.
(NYT editorial board) Dealing with the new China will require a balance of diplomacy, firmness, credible deterrents and a code of conduct, especially in the South China Sea. It will require a broad consensus among China’s Southeast Asian neighbors and America’s allies, all of which are opposed to any restrictions on navigation through the South China Sea but are also cognizant of the importance of trade with China.
Mr. Pompeo has said the right things about China’s unlawful behavior. But unless words are accompanied by a credible American re-engagement in the region, including a clear commitment to diplomacy, investment and security, the words are just more election-year bluster.

Chengdu: US leaves consulate amid row with China
(BBC) American diplomats are to leave the US consulate in the south-western Chinese city of Chengdu, following Beijing’s decision to close the mission. With just hours to go before a Monday morning deadline, staff could be seen carrying box files and bags of rubbish. Meanwhile, crowds of local residents have gathered outside, with many waving Chinese flags and taking selfies. China acted in response to the US closing its consulate in Houston, Texas, last week. After a 72-hour deadline for Chinese diplomats to leave the Houston mission expired on Friday, reporters saw men who appeared to be US officials force open a door to enter the premises. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had decided to act because Beijing was “stealing” intellectual property. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded by saying that the US move was based on “a hodgepodge of anti-Chinese lies.”

15 July
China summons US ambassador Terry Branstad over American actions on Hong Kong
Beijing calls on US envoy to ‘correct the mistake’ of Hong Kong Human Autonomy Act and Trump’s order stripping city of special status
Recent US actions are deemed ‘interference’ into China’s internal affairs
(SCMP) On Tuesday, Trump ended Hong Kong’s preferential trade treatment and signed into law a bill requiring sanctions against foreign individuals and banks for contributing to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The bill, introduced in late May, moved quickly through both chambers of Congress with strong bipartisan support.
The moves were Washington’s latest salvoes over Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong, which went into effect about two weeks ago.
As the U.S. and China spar on the world stage, Cold War 2.0 may already have begun
For decades, U.S. conventional wisdom held that if the West traded and engaged with China, it would open up its system and curb its behavior. No longer.
(NBC) [On Tuesday] President Donald Trump signed legislation and an executive order to punish China over its actions in Hong Kong, the semiautonomous former British colony where Beijing has implemented a draconian new security law in violation of international agreements.
The U.S. Navy also announced Tuesday that it had conducted one of its periodic “freedom of navigation” operations near the contested Spratly Islands, sending a guided missile destroyer into waters China claims as its own. It was the first such mission since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared China’s claims to much of the disputed areas in the South China Sea “completely unlawful” on Monday and accused Beijing of “a campaign of bullying.”
China slapped sanctions Monday on certain U.S. lawmakers and other U.S. officials in retaliation for U.S. measures against senior Chinese officials alleged to be responsible for mass detentions, religious persecution and forced sterilization of Muslim Uighur minorities in China’s Xinjiang province.
Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a stark warning calling Chinese espionage “the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property and to our economic vitality.”

23 June
Tom Friedman: China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce
For 40 years the two countries had an unconscious economic coupling.
…while China may think it has nothing to fear and much to gain from a Trump victory over Joe Biden, the real U.S.-China story should be cause for alarm in Beijing.
The real story is that China’s standing in America today is lower than at any time since Tiananmen Square in 1989. The real story is that if China was to buy a few more beans and Boeings from America, that would not fix Beijing’s problems here. The real question the Chinese should be asking themselves is not who will be America’s next president, but rather: “Who in China lost America?”
Because the real story is that the U.S. and China are heading for a divorce.
The divorce papers will just say the cause was “irreconcilable differences.” But Mom and Dad know better. They are getting divorced, after 40 years of being one couple, two systems, because China badly overreached and America badly underperformed.

20 June
From India’s Himalayan Border to Our Local Cell Networks, It’s Time to Push Back Against China
By Cleo Paskal
(Quillette) …the geopolitical future will depend in large part on how well the United States, India (and others) can work together against an expansionist China.
There are promising signs. China’s aggression has provoked pushback. In May, the White House released a document entitled United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China, outlining a new whole-of-government strategy for countering the Chinese Communist Party’s “malign behavior,” including the way it is “engaging in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas.”
And it’s not just talk. President Donald Trump and the US Labor Department have effectively blocked a proposed multi-billion dollar investment by a federal pension plan in the Chinese market. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially certified that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, opening the way to strip the territory of economic privileges it has long enjoyed. Chinese students in the United States with links to China’s military may have their visas revoked.

18 June
How to Prevent a War in Asia
The Erosion of American Deterrence Raises the Risk of Chinese Miscalculation
By
(Foreign Affairs) Amid all the uncertainty about the world that will follow the pandemic, one thing is almost sure to be true: tensions between the United States and China will be even sharper than they were before the coronavirus outbreak. The resurgence of U.S.-Chinese competition poses a host of challenges for policymakers—related to trade and economics, technology, global influence, and more—but none is more consequential than reducing the risk of war. Unfortunately, thanks to today’s uniquely dangerous mix of growing Chinese assertiveness and military strength and eroding U.S. deterrence, that risk is higher than it has been for decades, and it is growing.
Washington has not delivered on its promised “pivot” to Asia. U.S. troop levels in the region remain similar to what they were a decade ago. The current administration discarded the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement its predecessor had so painstakingly negotiated. Senior diplomatic positions in the region remain empty, and the United States is often underrepresented or entirely AWOL from the region’s major diplomatic forums. There has been no U.S. answer to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, even as its influence expands through Asia and well beyond. And Chinese activities in the “gray zone,” below the level of conflict—such as building militarized “islands” and using coercive measures to enforce disputed sovereignty claims in the South China Sea—have gone largely unanswered by the United States beyond the occasional diplomatic démarche or freedom-of-navigation operation.
All of this spells trouble for deterrence.
US-China talks: Mike Pompeo’s seven-hour meeting with Yang Jiechi ‘helps atmosphere’ – but differing statements show divisions remain
The countries’ top diplomats indicate a wish to prevent a further deterioration in relations
But the two sides give differing accounts of the meeting and US efforts may be driven by this year’s election, some observers say
(SCMP) China and the United States may have exposed their huge divisions over a range of issues in their their low-key diplomatic talks in Hawaii, but the end of the meeting offered evidence of a shared desire to prevent their strained ties souring even further.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm