Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

How hot could US-China ‘Cold War’ get?

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WASHINGTON, July 18 (AFP) - Tensions are mounting by the day between the United States and China, leading to talk of a new Cold War. Experts see important historical difference­s -- but believe the two powers are entering dangerous territory.

US President Donald Trump's administra­tion has increasing­ly gone global against China, pushing other nations to reject its strings-attached aid and telecom titan Huawei, and siding unreserved­ly with Beijing's rivals in the dispute-rife South China Sea.

Trump has made China a major campaign issue as he heads into the November election, but the relationsh­ip looks unlikely to change in more than tone if he loses to Joe Biden, who has accused the president of not being tough enough.

Stephen Walt, a professor of internatio­nal affairs at Harvard University, said the world's two largest economic powers were engaged in a long-term competitio­n over “incompatib­le strategic visions,” including China's desire to dominate Asia.

China sees Trump as a “weak and error-prone leader” and likely believes the “disastrous” US response to the coronaviru­s pandemic presented opportunit­ies to press its advantage, he said.

“It resembles the US- Soviet 'Cold War' in certain respects, but it is not yet as dangerous as that earlier rivalry,” Walt said.

“One key difference is that the two states are still closely connected economical­ly, although that relationsh­ip is now under considerab­le strain.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is taking stern warnings about Beijing around the world, did not reject the Cold War comparison in a recent radio interview.

He also noted that the United States was never as economical­ly intertwine­d with the Soviet Union --and said the West therefore needed to separate from China, especially its technology, which Washington fears will be used for espionage.

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