China-U. S. relations
March 11 The Guardian
Looking back, it is hard to believe that in the Obama era there were serious discussions about whether a “G2” could emerge — with the U.S. and China coming together, never easily but earnestly, and in good faith, to tackle the world’s great problems. …
In recent months, Beijing had appeared to step back from the abrasive “wolf warrior” diplomacy that helped to set alarm bells ringing not only in the west but more widely. But this week, Xi Jinping made a rare explicit criticism of Washington, remarking that “western countries, led by the U.S., are implementing all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us.” Qin Gang, the foreign minister, warned that “the U.S. side’s so-called competition is all-out containment and suppression, a zero-sum game of life and death.” …
The newly formed House select committee on the strategic competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist party says it wants to raise public concern — surely not lacking in a country where growing hawkishness towards China is evident across the political spectrum. Though Beijing’s own actions are largely to blame for that shift, the change has bolstered its aggrieved conviction that it won’t gain much from attempting engagement.
Rightful concern in the U.S. — on issues ranging from China’s increasingly forceful foreign policy to industrial espionage, and from the treatment of Uyghurs to the future of Taiwan — is mixed at times with nationalism and even racism. That China is closing the economic, industrial and technological gap with the U.S. is unnerving Washington, but the real issues are surely how it has done so and how it plans to use its capabilities.
And while one committee member said it does not want to encourage xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment, not everyone criticizing China is scrupulous in discriminating between government and people or making sure others do so. A bill in the Texas senate would make it illegal for Chinese citizens to buy any property, including homes. The pandemic has already led to growing anti-Asian hate. Shrill, unfocused alarmism also makes it harder to concentrate on the issues that really matter and how to handle them. Under Mr. Xi, it is increasingly hard to read China’s leadership accurately, and harder still to sway it. The U.S. could at least determine its own priorities and values more clearly.