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The China I Know(AFour-Part Seri)--China’s Relationship with the U.S. Is This Really a New Cold War?

发表时间:2020-09-22 10:42

The relationship between China’s government and the U.S. government seems to plumb new depths every week.   What started as a trade dispute now ensnares technology, finance and academia. Diplomatic courtesies and red lines are increasingly ignored. Military posturing is on the rise. For both countries this is uncharted territory.

In this, the second installment in my series on China, I examine the state of the world’s most important bi-lateral national relationship.   We shall first look at how the relationship has evolved since the late 1970’s. I then examine today’s Cold War analogies, describing how little, actually, the U.S./China contest of today has in common with U.S./Soviet Cold War. Then I attempt to turn the focus to what I consider to be the true nature of the conflict, concluding with some thoughts about where I believe the contest is headed.

U.S. China policy: accommodation, competition, containment, confrontation

American policy since China’s U.S.-supported WTO accession in 2001 has progressed through a series of stages to where it sits today under a confrontational, unpredictable Trump administration. But matters were quite different under the prior U.S. presidents.

As Neil Thomas points out in his excellent and highly-detailed historical analysis of U.S. engagement with China, entitled Matters of Record: Relitigating Engagement with China, U.S. presidents G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama all, more or less, held the globalist American view: that there is a place in the world for a rising China, but that, as China rose, it must also play by the rules that bind all the world’s other leading economies.

Obama was known for his Asia Pivot, an acknowledgment that the world had entered the Asian Century, and that the U.S. would take steps to strengthen its relationships across Asia, while managing, if not economically containing, an increasingly assertive China. The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama championed, but which Trump abruptly abrogated early in his term, was seen by some as perhaps the last chance for American-led economic containment of China.

The largely trade-related China policy initially adopted by the Trump administration began before his election, driven by Trump’s need for votes in the key, post-industrial Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.   Trump saw a political opportunity among the working-class voters in those states whose good-paying factory jobs, Trump would say, the Chinese stole with their unfair trade practices. Once in office Trump kept up his anti-China rhetoric, but professed personal friendship with president Xi.


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