China-US Relations: US Obsession with Chinese Development

China and the United States (US) continue to be two giant powers in the world. Both countries have a large economy with vast territory and populations that support their state institutions. However, China and the US are struggling to maintain balanced relations in various areas. Competition between them marks a complicated phase in the history of the new cold war, primarily the US’ containment policy. “Containing China” was the line of action in the Trump administration, and it continues to be so in the current Biden administration. China and the US tend to have explicit differences in terms of advancement in technology, trade, economy and particularly on security-related issues. The Chinese unprecedented economic, technological, and security development has made Washington agitated.

The China-US competition is built on the systems of governance of both countries, which directly impact their respective economic strength and technological advancement. Both China and the US have strategic requirements to assert their own systems’ supremacy. Meanwhile, inside China, an attempt is emerging to propagate some of Confucianism’s ideals as a more collectivist and harmonious alternative to most Western foreign relations, based on conflictual individualism. Notably, the Chinese system of governance revolves around the philosophy of Confucianism. However, in the post-1970s period, China worked consistently and showed a more dynamic role than before 1949. Currently, internal reforms are pushing foreign policy goals rather than being influenced by external pressures as earlier. The US, however, has been highly concerned about China’s geopolitical development.

In the post-1970s period, China worked consistently and showed a more dynamic role than before 1949. Currently, internal reforms are pushing foreign policy goals rather than being influenced by external pressures as earlier.

The Chinese government’s latest five-year plan will enhance the opening of relevant industries in telecom, the internet, education, culture, and healthcare. There are advancements in China’s ongoing strategic efforts to develop further its business environment based on market values, regulated by law, and meeting international standards. According to its five-year plan, the Chinese developments represent a success story of the country’s governance. The Chinese economic growth indicates that the economy and national security are tightly interlinked.

The Dialogue in Anchorage, Alaska

The China-US high-level strategic dialogue in Anchorage, Alaska, began with criticism from the US side. Their opening remarks were without courtesy and diplomatic protocol. The chief Chinese negotiators’ response revealed that China would not bargain on the core issues such as territorial integration of China in the case of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Tibet. Nevertheless, both negotiating parties continue to face major differences over significant issues and finding sincere solutions will take time.

The Biden administration has followed up the lengthy Trump legacy in the relations with China. Both sides started off with criticism directed at the other. The US raised the issue of human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. In contrast, the Chinese side criticised the US over human rights violations inside the US, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the Capitol riots. The chief Chinese negotiators visited the US to resolve the pressing issues with their counterparts. However, the opening remarks adversely affected the atmosphere of the negotiations.

The Chinese side clearly showed China’s national security discourse in the meeting. It also set the tone for the overall security of China and its surroundings. The security of mainland China has been the Chinese government’s priority, and the country has been successful in preventing terror threats and unrest in mainland China. The country has made tremendous progress in developing security, such as advanced security equipment placed in various parts of the country to better manage China’s security. The Soviet disintegration saw independent republics formed by the colour revolutions that China feared as a possible source of unrest. The Colour Revolt in Ukraine, and Rose Revolution in Georgia, and, generally, the colour revolutions worldwide alerted Chinese security officials. China has not been sceptical of such revolutions in the surrounding of Russia. All the colour revolutions have been described as pro-democratic movements sponsored by western countries. Likewise, any colour revolution inside Xinjiang or Tibet will disrupt Chinese development. China cannot afford any such revolution inside the mainland or the countries with which China has economic ties. China’s strategic and security narrative is to prevent any unrest in the state, as a disorder in Chinese society is considered illegal defined by Chinese law.

Besides, China benefits from the western-led economic model. However, enforcing arbitrary rules on China might bring up a backlash to the entire world system. The significant trade volume of both China and the US may severely be damaged. It is extremely important to realise that Chinese human rights values are completely different from western human rights values. For instance, the US’ Capitol riots reflect a lack of a robust democratic society, and most demonstrators have questioned the legality of the US democracy. The rioters are still on the loose, and some even have guns and bombs. Comparatively, such action in China would be called a national security threat, and most rioters would have already ended up in jail for a very long term. In the same vein, the Chinese democratic process is different compared to western democracies. For instance, the Chinese believe in a one-party system of democracy. The one-party has already made significant progress in poverty alleviation and in bringing economic prosperity. China firmly believes in a robust system of the world with equality throughout the globe.

Ihsanullah Omarkhail

Ihsanullah Omarkhail is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of Non-Traditional Security Management at Zhejiang University, China. His research areas include Terrorism, Peace, State building, China-US competition.

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