Relations between the US and China appear to be deteriorating at a rapid pace rather than improving. The US is no longer concerned or worried about Russia.
Washington is satisfied with the extent of international isolation of Moscow particularly by the Global North.
The focus is now turning to China. This emerged during the recent address by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who waxed lyrical about his country’s successful containment of Russia, and continued to spell out in the clearest terms the next biggest challenge the US faces – China.
In a recent China policy speech that has left authorities in Beijing seething with anger, Blinken pointed out that the US seeks no “cold war” with China. However, Washington’s foreign policy bigwigs regard the world’s most populous country as a “long-term challenge”.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have been frosty since the tenure of Donald Trump in office. The antagonism between the two superpowers was carried over following the election of President Joe Biden.
Regardless of which political party occupies the Oval Office, it seems the rapid growth of China and its sphere of influence in Global politics does not sit too well with Washington.
Tensions between the two powerhouses continue to simmer in areas particularly around supply chains to geo-strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
In a speech hosted by Asia Society’s Policy Institute, Blinken charged: “China is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order – and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it.”
In defence and protection of the US-led “rules-based world order”, Washington is determined to mobilise its partners and allies around the world to counter China’s growing influence.
Blinken acknowledged that America’s ability to directly influence China’s ambitions remains unmistakably limited.
Blinken explained: “So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system.”
In my view, this sounds too similar to the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration aided by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Side-stepping the established conventions of the UN, President Bush coined a phrase intended to rally international support for his unilateral decision, describing the few countries that joined his illegal invasion as a “coalition of the willing”.
What remains apparently a vexatious issue for Washington is the expressed “limitless friendship” between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
During his recent visit to Tokyo President Biden’s off-the-cuff remarks took many by surprise. He issued a categorical warning that his administration would defend Taiwan if the island were attacked by China.
Clearly, the remarks undermined the largely globally accepted “one China policy” that recognises Taiwan as a territorial portion of China.
Prior to Blinken’s speech China’s envoy to the US, Qin Gang, released a stern warning through a media statement saying that his government considers “one China principle” – which in Washington is called “one China policy”, as the “bedrock” of peace across the Taiwan Strait.
Writing in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, Qin said: “On an issue concerning China’s core interests, we will never compromise or back down.”
Earlier this year, Qin warned that the US and China could face a “military conflict” over the future of Taiwan. He said: “No one should underestimate our determination, resolve and capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
In a sharp rebuke Zhao Tong, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace based in Beijing, said: “In Beijing’s view, the Biden administration has a darker heart than it is willing to admit.”
Zhao elaborated: “The bottom line is: the existence of the serious perception gap is not yet recognised and is increasingly contributing to worst-case thinking about the US’s strategic intent (in China).”
At the end of the Cold War, which was precipitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US and Nato basked in the glory of their apparent triumph. Their narrative insisted that the West’s victory in the Cold War was a triumph for democracy over socialism.
Although Nato did give guarantees to the Russians about never expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation eastward to the door-step of Russia, Moscow claims that the West has reneged on their promise. To the greatest extent, hence the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict.
But China’s cordial diplomatic and strategic ties with Moscow are what give the US and the West sleepless nights.
Beijing’s modus operandi is always to keep quiet and work very hard in private without alerting anyone. It is only through the results that the world paused to take stock of China’s rapid development and victory is pushing back their frontiers of hunger, poverty and starvation among its citizens.
In Africa, for example, China has used her strong economy to improve the staggering African economies by offering reasonable loan terms, when compared with the World Bank or IMF.
Also, when compared with the West, China can as a matter of fact state that the Chinese have never colonised any country, or practised apartheid against any non-Chinese people.
In other words, the rapid rise of China in international affairs has been made possible by a clear national policy espoused by the Communist Party of China, which recently turned 100 years old.
Through their manifesto, the rulers of China under President Xi believe that China cannot claim to be wealthy as long as there are some who go to bed hungry.
That is a policy not too dissimilar to our African Ubuntu/Botho principles – you are because I am, and I am because you are.
China’s remarkable rise is based solely on a clear ideology that discourages the few to have a good life at the expense of the majority.
China’s ideology is a far cry from the Western notion of capitalism, which broadly refers to “every man for himself, but God for us all”.
Chinese humanity is relentless in its desire to ensure that everybody has to have a piece of the cake, if the cake is available all must benefit.
Methinks the US would do well by engaging China at all strategic levels to find and establish a common ground. Any attempt to isolate the international community from Beijing will fail. Already, the Global South looks up to China common development. Most parts of the Global North, too, also look up to China for their economic development and strategic political alliances.
China is set to overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy within the next decade. This is what worries Washington the most. My advice is – establish mutually-beneficial networks between the two superpowers instead of allowing jealousy to categorise competition as enmity.