US, China edge towards new Cold War

May 25, 2020, 09:06 am

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The Trump administration is taking a hard line on China. Experts warn that the United States and China might fall into the ‘Thucydides trap’, where an inevitable conflict might arise between a ruling power and a rising power. The photo shows US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G-20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019./ Source: Osaka AP=Yonhap News


Washington correspondent Ha Man-joo

The Trump administration is taking a hard line on China. 

Experts warn that the United States and China might fall into the ‘Thucydides trap’, where an inevitable conflict might arise between a ruling power and a rising power. The intensifying rivalry between Washington and Beijing is putting South Korea to weigh between the two superpowers.

The Trump administration is implementing a “separation strategy” between the Chinese Community Party and the Chinese people, and the mainland China and ‘part of China’, by not only going towards trade and military confrontation with China, but also raising sensitive issues that involves human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet.

Such confrontation has further intensified with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump administration blasted Beijing’s move to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong as “death knell’ for Hong Kong’s autonomy. 

The Washington Post (WP) reported on May 15 that U.S. security officials debated whether to carry out the first US nuclear tests since 1992 after reports of Russia and China carrying out exercises emerged. 

The Trump administration’s hardline stance against China differs from its denuclearization negotiations with North Korea in that it is not based on President Trump’s top-down approach, but is a consistent policy of the U.S. administration.

The White House and Ministries of Defense, Finance, and Commerce are keeping a close eye on Chinese activities to check power and impose sanctions.

At the vanguard are Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It is no coincidence that both Pence and Pompeo criticized China at the conservative American think tank Hudson Institute in October 2018. 

On October 4, 2018, Pence delivered a major speech on the administration’s policy towards China, which is considered ‘the most important’ of the Trump administration. 

On October 30, 2018, Pompeo criticized previous US administrations’ China policy since establishing diplomatic relations with China on October 30, 1979.

In the speech, Pence said the Chinese Communist Party used an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade, including currency manipulation, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and more. He pointed that the worst thing was that Chinese security agencies masterminded the wholesale theft of American technology, including cutting-edge military blueprints.

He criticized that China’s rulers aim to implement by 2020 an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life – the so-called “Social Credit Score.” Pence said China is crashing down on Chinese Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims. He said that in Xinjiang, the Communist Party imprisoned one million Muslim Uyghurs in government camps where they endure around-the-clock brainwashing.

He explained about China’s military ambition saying that China deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles atop an archipelago of military bases constructed on artificial islands and Chinese ships are routinely patrolling around the Senkaku Islands to push the United States from the Western Pacific. 

Pence also criticized Xi Jinping’s massive Belt and Road initiative. He said that China is using so-called “debt diplomacy” to expand its influence while offering hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure loans to governments from Asia to Africa to Europe and even Latin America.

“Beijing is employing this power in more proactive and coercive ways to interfere in the domestic policies of this country and to interfere in the politics of the United States,” Pence said. 

He stressed that the Chinese Community Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials.

Douglas Dillon, professor of government at the Harvard Kenney School, said that Pence’s speech was a declaration of a new cold war that China has already been waging against the US for years and that US will now fight back against China in every dimension. He argued that Chinese strategists reminded of ‘Thucydides’s Trap.’

Last Wednesday, Pompeo virtually denied the establishment of the People’s Republic of China by saying, “China has been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime since 1949.” He rejected Chinese President Xi Jinping’s claim that Beijing had acted with transparency after the COVID-19 outbreak in China. He said if Xi wanted to show that, he should hold a news conference and allow reporters to ask him anything they liked.

The U.S. perception of China is shared with not only Pompeo, but also the White House and the administration.

#new cold war #US #China 
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