China would have hoped for betterment in diplomatic and trade relations with the United States after the exit of former President Donald Trump-led administration and the coming of the new administration and administrative policies under President Joe Biden.
However, this may not be the case yet, as Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, in a press briefing, stated that Washington has seen over the last few years that China is growing more authoritarian at home, challenging security and prosperity abroad.
She also added that U.S. President Joe Biden is committed to stopping China’s economic abuses on many fronts and that the most effective way of doing so is by “working in coordination with allies.”
The China and U.S. relationship has been complicated and has yoyoed between good to bad, positive to negative. The two nations have been highly suspicious about each other.
Although the ties between the two nations, despite the suspicion over each other’s intentions, have continued over the years, after 1980, the economic ties between the two countries have increased.
China and the U.S. suspicion over each other
The two nations have an approach towards each other, which sees each other as potential adversaries, despite this wariness; however, the two countries have maintained a robust economic partnership.
The relationship has been described by academics and world leaders as the world’s most important bilateral relationship of the 21 st century.
President George Washington founded the beginning of China’s relations, which eventually led to the 1845 Treaty of Wangxia.
During the Pacific War, the U.S. was allied with China, but during the Chinese Civil war after the Communist victory in Mainland China, it fought a major armed conflict with the People’s of the Republic of China in the Korean War.
The U.S. maintained no relationship with China for 25 years post this conflict until 1972 when President Richard Nixon visited China.
Every President after Nixon’s visit has toured China with the exception of Jimmy Carter.
The beginning of strained relations between the two nations
Under President Barack Obama, the two countries’ relations started its downward spiral when Obama developed the Asia Pivot strategy.
However, despite the beginning of the tension between the two nations, the favorability towards the U.S. stood at 51%, marked by the Chinese population.
Tension escalated, and relations deteriorated sharply under President Donald Trump’s administration, who labeled China as a “strategic competitor” marked with the 2017 National Security Strategy.
In 2018, the Trump administration initiated a “China Initiative” under the U.S. Department of Justice to combat “economic espionage.”
Subsequently, the Donald Trump administration launched a trade war against China, under which it banned selling equipment to Huawei and other companies by the U.S. companies under suspicions of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
The Trump administration also increased visa restrictions on students and scholars of Chinese nationality. Also, it designated China as a “currency manipulator.”
However, many who studied the steps taken by the Donald Trump administration concluded that the “China Initiative” and subsequent actions might operate unfairly and stigmatizes researchers of the Chinese ethnicity, thoroughly implying “threat by association.”
The political observers on the U.S. and China trade war warned that a new cold war might indeed be emerging.
By the year 2020, the countries’ relations hit an all-time low, even as both sides began recruiting allies to attack China, guilt-tripping regarding the worldwide Covid- 19 Pandemic, which started in the Wuhan.
In 2020, China’s Congress decision to authorize a Hong Kong national security law led to the worsening of the relations between the two countries.
Mike Pompeo makes a statement
During his last few days, the outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo further outraged China when he slammed China for imposing the controversial national security law in Hong Kong. He commented on this development and said, “it is a sad day” for the people of the territory.
The controversial law gave Beijing new powers over Hong Kong; the laws are made explicitly to crackdown dissent, criminalizing sedation, and effectively curtailing protest, which had led to a global protest and outrage.
Joe Biden’s stand on China
China had welcomed Joe Biden as the new President of the United States and had extended hope of betterment of relations which had soured during the previous President.
However, Monday’s briefing clearly states that Joe Biden and his administration are in no mood to take the Chinese matter lightly.
- Biden administration has clearly spoken about their concern on China’s authoritarian approach, stating that President Biden will adopt a multilateral approach towards China that includes the current tariffs—adding that all steps taken will be in coordination with U.S. allies and partners and with the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress.
- Also stated in the press conference by Psaki reiterated that the President is committed to stopping China’s economic abuses on multiple fronts.
- Biden – Harris administration would be tackling Beijing’s threat with strategic patience and discussing the same with the U.S. Congress.
- She also said that Washington is in “serious competition” with Beijing.
- The Chinese Government has, over the years, engaged in conduct that “hurts the American workers, blunts our technological edge and our influence in international organizations.”
- The President’s view is that the U.S. needs to play a “better defense.”
- The U.S. holds China accountable for its unfair and illegal practices and that it was important to make sure that American technologies aren’t and do not facilitate China’s military buildup.
China’s approach and response
China was quick to bid a farewell, and how so – to the outgoing Trump administration and Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and added its own farewell message by calling Pompeo’ doomsday clown’.
It imposed sanctions on Mike Pompeo and twenty-seven other top officials under the Trump administration; the sanctions also included the immediate family members that ban them from entering mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and doing business with China.
While China stated its intentions of cooperating with President Joe Biden’s new administration, it seems that Beijing may adopt a more ‘careful and observe’ approach towards the Biden administration, especially since the Biden administration has made it very clear as to where they stand when it comes to China and Chinese policies.
The political observers who cautioned that this might indeed be the beginning of a cold war may not be very far from their observation.
For in the present, it seems that both powerful countries of the world are not willing to take each other lightly, and each continues to take a tough stand on the issues regarding each other.
As each country counters every statement and policies adopted, China is yet to state its move following the press conference, and Joe Biden’s administration stand on Beijing.
It would be interesting to know how the relations between the two nations develop and which direction they may head under President Joe Biden’s new administration.