Myanmar’s military takeover and the subsequent protests and violence have resulted in more than just domestic turmoil. The country’s turn from its democratic reforms of the past decade has called into question what the future of Myanmar looks like, as well as where the country fits into the political, ideological, economic, and strategic battle between China and the US. Neither power benefits from chaos and unrest in Myanmar, but the military coup may be a way for China to prevent Western influence and democratic ideals from taking hold in the region.
Author: Taili Ni
Katherine Tai has advocated for cooperation over competition when it comes to the US-China trade relationship. She has stressed the importance of strengthening relationships with US allies and that China needs to follow through on the commitments it made in the US-China trade deal. Given this, it seems that the new US trade representative will focus on creating a solid multilateral approach to trade relations with China intended to see Beijing adhere to the practices and standards of the US-led system.
While Beijing’s directness may open doors for unmasked dialogue and progress in the bilateral relationship, it has also led to obstinance on issues ranging from human rights to territorial claims, which has in turn led to increased conflict amid global condemnation and economic and diplomatic pressures. All in all, the Alaska talks only mainly served to recognize the cascading peaks impeding the path forward for US-China relations.
Although the World Health Organization-led COVAX initiative aimed to see equitable distribution of vaccines among participating countries, the reality is that richer countries have been pushed to the front of the line. Recognizing the opportunity this presents, China has been garnering attention for its “vaccine diplomacy,” or commitments to providing its COVID-19 vaccines to countries across the world.
From its familiarly hawkish contents to its title, The Longer Telegram offers little in the way of originality. However, it does provide a comprehensive US approach to Xi’s China, and does a thorough job of examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCP, Xi’s priorities, US priorities, and areas of both strategic competition and cooperation. While there will likely be further disagreement about the true ambitions of Xi and the CCP, as well as the wisdom of taking such a hawkish approach to the bilateral relationship, The Longer Telegram is valuable for its careful analysis and clear stance.
While within the US-China relationship there is a heavy focus on competition, there are also potential areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. Addressing climate change is perhaps the most pressing of these areas, as well as one that offers the most hope for the bilateral relationship and the global environment.
The bilateral relationship has been full of ups and downs, at times experiencing highs of friendship and growth while at others dragged down by disappointment and mistrust. Why has it been so difficult for the US and China to exit the competition cycle and maintain healthy, cooperative relations? One complicating factor is the pervasive presence of historical narratives. Both China and the US maintain narratives about the relationship that appear throughout the years and the state of the relationship.
China’s successful return mission from the moon has fueled discussions about the role of space in US-China relations. While many see potential for great collaboration between the two countries in the next great frontier, others view China’s advances as a serious security concern and an impetus for the US to ramp up its own space program to meet China’s latest challenge.
A relatively new, and increasingly important, area of competition between the US and China is their respective engagement with African states. While the US has a long history of involvement with the African continent, China’s engagement in the region has grown rapidly and used the COVID-19 pandemic to make greater strides. As the US and China compete for global influence and power, the dynamics at play with African states cannot be ignored.