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.
Author: Taili Ni
In this issue of our US-China relations newsletter, we dive into the impact of China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign and the impact it brings on US-China competition over global influence.
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.