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China-U.S. Relations

The period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end, Kurt Campbell, the U.S. coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council, said 26 May 2021 at Stanford University. Beijing's behavior was emblematic of a shift toward "harsh power, or hard power" which "signals that China is determined to play a more assertive role," he said. Campbell said Xi Jinping was at the heart of the new US approach to China. He described the Chinese president was deeply ideological, but also quite unsentimental and not terribly interested in economics. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has almost completely disassembled nearly 40 years of mechanisms designed for collective leadership.

The China-US competition is heating up. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described China-US relations as "competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be." The last global realignment took place immediately following WWII. Washington wants to hold on its global dominance for as long as possible while Beijing is eagerly working to supplant the USs superpower status, first in Asia, then in Africa and the Middle East. The Chinese strategy in achieving its objectives is quite clear: unlike the USs disproportionate investments in military power, China is keen on winning its coveted status, at least for the time being, using soft power only.

In China, the period between 1842 and 1949, when the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) was founded and the country ceased to march to the beat of a Western drum, is called the century of humiliation. Even now, Chinese President Xi Jinping only expects China to have caught up with the West once again by 2049, a century after the country resumed its course of development.

China has warned the US against starting a new cold war and said it's not trying to replace America's role in the world.Their already patchy trade relations have worsened in recent weeks. Many are saying the Phase One deal reached by the US and China was precarious to begin with and there's little chance of it being renegotiated. China had weakened its currency to its lowest level since 2008 after renewed threats from the US to slap fresh tariffs on the Chinese economy. China was committed to increasing energy imports from the US but this doesn't look likely.

The US intervened in China twice in the 19th century, helping the British to take the key trading city of Guangzhou in the Second Opium War and then sending troops as part of the multi-national imperialist effort to crush the Boxer Rebellion, the widespread 1899-1902 rebellion against the Western powers that had all but taken over China. At home, in 1882, the US also passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned all immigration from China - again, on the argument that such immigrants posed a threat to the integrity of American society. The law was not fully repealed until 1965.

After the Communist Party of China won the civil war against the Republic of China, which then became Taiwan, the CIA reportedly spent nearly $100 million funding a guerrilla force inside the new PRC. The CIA also had an entire program aimed at destabilizing Tibet by funding guerrilla forces there - a program US President Richard Nixon only abandoned in 1971 - and the US has provided extensive support to Taiwan, even after legally acknowledging the PRC as the sole legitimate government of all of China in 1979.

In 2015, Beijing unveiled a strategic plan called Made in China 2025. It set out a roadmap for establishing China as the worlds top player in key industries, but also triggered the countrys ongoing tensions with Washington. The latest developments could compound that situation. Some experts say Xi was using the friction to further strengthen his grip on power. At the same time, many people believe his policies to promote innovation are the key to making China a global powerhouse.

The American approach to China since the start of "reform and opening up" in the early 1980s was based on the premise that trade and engagement with China would eventually produce a peaceful, democratic state. Successive American presidents facilitated the peaceful rise of China. The Communist Party of China led the West to believe that the its system and the Party-ruled People's Liberation Army were peaceful and posed no threat.

With the advent of Xi Jinping, the hope of promoting a benign People's Republic of China appears to have failed. In fact, these policies produced the emergence of a 21st Century Evil Empire at least as dangerous as the Cold War Soviet version. This revisionist nuclear-armed communist dictatorship was focused on a single overriding strategic objective: overturning the hegemoney of the United States of America. Defeating the United States was the first step in achieving global hegemony in a new world order centered on China and based an ideology of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics Under Modern Conditions.

Along the way technology theft from American companies took place on a massive scale through cyber theft and unfair trade practices. The losses directly supported in the buildup of the Chinese military that now threatens American and allied interests around the world. The military threat was only half the danger as China aggressively pursues regional and international control using a variety of non-military forces, including economic, cyber and space warfare and large-scale influence operations.

By 2020 the US/PRC strategic competition had entered a new phase with no certain endpoint or predictable end-state. US national security strategy and DoD planning, budgets and programs are making a shift not seen since the end of the Cold War. DoD had long thought China was an emerging military threat that would require adjustments in US defense policy. This view reached a new level of concern/awareness under the Trump Administration. China was now viewed in many ways as a military "peer" with credible capabilities in specific areas that have been purposely pursued to negate US & allied military advantages in the Pacific.

China created an impression of power, and it was not clear how the US administration would proceed with China: by 2009 there was the impression of a shift within the US administration towards greater accommodation of China. The American reaction to the USS Impeccable incident in March 2009 showed a disconnect, and created the impression that the US felt the need to accommodate the Chinese. It looked like the US was adjusting to a new reality. The US response to the Impeccable fed into China's efforts to create an impression of power that might be used to coerce other nations.

During the course of the November 2014 APEC Summit in Beijing, the US and China signed a series of agreements in the military sphere that will help the two countries reduce the risk of a military confrontation in Eastern Asia. The agreements establish a framework for cooperation in the event that either side takes any large-scale military actions, requiring the parties to inform each other in advance of any such steps. The document also sets out a code of conduct to be followed if U.S. or Chinese military air or naval units come into contact with each other.

The countries decided to sign the agreement because lately there had been an increase in incidents (in particular, China's inclusion of the East China Sea territory in its air defense zone) that are capable of placing Beijing and Washington on the verge of a conflict that would be disadvantageous for both sides.

The Democratic Partys proposed platform criticizes Chinas trade practices, proposes less spending on national defense, and opposes forever wars as it seeks to lay out the partys foreign policy goals and highlight differences with President Donald Trump. China became one of the central foreign policy issues in the 2020 presidential race, heightened by President Donald Trumps trade war with the country as well as the coronavirus pandemic, which originated there. In their party platform, Democrats took a strong stance against Chinas trade policies and sought to portray Trumps efforts against the country as not tough enough.

"The Trump Administration has failed time after time to deliver for American workers on this crucial issue, siding with corporate interests over our workers and launching a trade war with China that they have no plan for winningcreating incredible hardship for American farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers in the process.

"Democrats will take aggressive action against China or any other country that tries to undercut American manufacturing by manipulating their currencies and maintaining a misaligned exchange rate with the dollar, dumping products like steel and aluminum in our markets, or providing unfair subsidies. Unlike President Trump, we will stand up to efforts from China and other state actors to steal Americas intellectual property and will demand China and other countries cease and desist from conducting cyberespionage against our companies.... We will build on this foundation to negotiate arms control agreements that reflect the emergence of new players like China, capture new technologies, and move the world back from the nuclear precipice....

"Democrats believe that if the United States does not work with its allies and partners to shape the terms of global trade, China will shape them for usand American working families and the middle class will pay the price. Thats why we will work with our allies to mobilize more than half the worlds economy to stand up to China and negotiate from the strongest possible position.

"Democrats believe the China challenge is not primarily a military one, but we will deter and respond to aggression. We will underscore our global commitment to freedom of navigation and resist the Chinese militarys intimidation in the South China Sea. Democrats are committed to the Taiwan Relations Act and will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.

"Rather than stand with President Xi Jinping as he cracks down on Hong Kongs autonomy, Democrats will stand for the democratic rights of its citizens. We will fully enforce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, including by sanctioning officials, financial institutions, companies, and individuals responsible for undercutting Hong Kongs autonomy. And we will bring the world together to condemn the internment of more than one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in concentration camps in China, using the tools provided by the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act."

Biden claimed credit for paving the way to the Paris Agreement by convincing China to enter into an earlier landmark climate deal with the United States, in 2014. But his rhetoric changed in recent years as U.S.-China relations have deteriorated. In a June 2020 op-ed in Foreign Affairs, Biden said his climate agenda would include insisting that China the worlds largest emitter of carbon stop subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars worth of dirty fossil fuel energy projects through its Belt and Road Initiative.

"To win the competition for the future against China or anyone else, the United States must sharpen its innovative edge and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to counter abusive economic practices and reduce inequality.... The United States does need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the United States and American companies of their technology and intellectual property. It will also keep using subsidies to give its state-owned enterprises an unfair advantageand a leg up on dominating the technologies and industries of the future."

At a Democratic campaign event in Florida in October 2018, Biden said the U.S. was "better positioned than any nation in the world to own the 21st century," adding that China is "a divided country in 1,000 ways ... Don't tell me China's going to own America. It's not possible."

"China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man They can't even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the West. They can't figure out how theyre going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. Theyre not bad folks, folks Theyre not competition for us." Biden said at a campaign stop in Iowa on 02 May 2019.

On 22 May 2020 Biden said "For more than three years, President Trump has given Xi Jinping and autocrats around the world a pass on human rights. Trump has repeatedly turned a blind eye to Chinas deepening repression in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and throughout China. In fact, just last November, Donald Trump declared that he was standing with Xi Jinping on Hong Kong and praised Chinas leaders for acting very responsibly. Now we see the consequences: leaders in Beijing are proposing a law to further erode Hong Kongs autonomy and the rights of its citizens. It is no surprise Chinas government believes it can act with impunity to violate its commitments. The Administrations protests are too little, too late and Donald Trump has conspicuously had very little to say. We need to be clear, strong, and consistent on values when it comes to China. Thats what Ill do as president."

Right now, by every key metric, Chinas strategic position is stronger, and Americas strategic position is weaker, Antony Blinken, now U.S. secretary of state, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce two months before the November 2020 presidential election.

President-elect Joe Biden planned to sign a series of executive orders soon after being sworn into office on 20 January 2021, demonstrating that the countrys politics had shifted and that his presidency would be guided by new priorities.

  • Biden said on Day One hell reassure the USs allies that were back and you can count on us again.
  • rejoin the Paris climate accords
  • reverse President Trumps withdrawal from the World Health Organization
  • repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries
  • reinstate the program allowing dreamers, who were brought to the USA illegally as children, to remain in the country,

But pushing major legislation through Congress could prove to be a challenge. In a 14 July 2020 speech, Biden promised that if elected, he would reverse Trumps rollbacks used to enable fossil fuel extraction, like orders that allowed oil and gas companies to speed through permitting processes for new pipelines. Biden could also issue a number of his own executive orders to reduce extraction, like directing the Department of the Interior to halt oil and gas leases and fracking on federal lands.

Voice of America reported a list of US president-elect Joe Biden's potential advisors on China policies, including former deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken, former ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell, deputy director at the Center for a New American Security Ely Ratner, former national security advisors Jake Sullivan, Susan Rice and Thomas Donilon. According to their resumes, almost all of them come from the administration of former president Barack Obama.

Donilon in 2019 published an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, arguing that US incumbent President Donald Trump's trade war is "the wrong way to compete with China," and the US should focus on renewal, rather than protectionism. Blinken said in September that, "China's strategic position is stronger and ours is weaker as a result of President Trump's leadership." He also said that Trump left "a vacuum in the world for China to fill." Campbell and Sullivan wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2019 that, "the goal should be to establish favorable terms of coexistence with Beijing in four key competitive domains - military, economic, political and global governance."

Judging from the narratives from these advisors, the goal of Biden administration's China policy is almost identical to that of the Trump administration, albeit more tactfully stated. The Biden administration will continue to regard China as its main rival, seeing China as the biggest threat to maintain its position as a global hegemony. However, Biden will differ from Trump on dealing with this challenge.

Blinken said Trump had weakened American alliances, abandoned US values and gave China a green light to trample on so-called human rights and democracy. This reflects the reality that the Biden administration will underline human rights and democracy, and will create an ideological alliance by uniting its allies such as Europe, Japan and South Korea in a bid to pile pressure on China.

On 13 November 2020 Donald Trump signed an executive order banning Americans from investing in Chinese firms the administration says are owned by or controlled by Chinas military. The order covers 31 Chinese firms that Washington said "enable the development and modernisation" of China's military and "directly threaten" US security.

Karen Freifeld writing for Reuters reported 22 November 2020 that Commerce Department had drafted a list of 117 Russian and Chinese aerospace companies it intended to designate as military end users, which would complicate U.S. exports to those companies. Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) and Aviation Industry of China (AVIC), China's two largest aerospace firms, were on the list. The enterprises have joint ventures with US companies. COMAC builds the C919, a single-aisle aircraft that competes with the Boeing B737 and the Airbus A320. COMAC uses a number of American key components and engines for the C919. U.S. companies would need export licenses to supply designated companies. Those licenses could be granted, but there is a presumption of denial. Designating 89 Chinese aerospace companies as "military end users" might be difficult to undo.

China said 02 Janaury 2021 that it would take necessary countermeasures after the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) began delisting securities of three Chinese telecommunications companies. The NYSE announced earlier this week that it would halt the trading in shares of China Mobile Ltd., China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. and China Telecom Corp Ltd. by January 11. The stock exchange said it took the decision because of the executive order from US President Donald Trump that barred Americans from investing in firms with ties to the Chinese military. All three telco companies are state-run enterprises that operate under Beijing's firm control. They are the only three companies in China that are allowed to provide broad-band telecommunication services, an industry the government believes should remain under state control.

Biden used his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief 10 February 2021 to announce the formation of a new Defense Department China Task Force, charged with reexamining the U.S. approach in areas from strategy and force posture to technology and intelligence. The task force will work quickly, drawing on civilian and military experts across the department to provide within the next few months recommendations to [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin on key priorities and decision points so that we can chart a strong path forward on China-related matters," Biden told reporters.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 08-06-2021 19:10:30 ZULU