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US-China Relations Newsletter

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Coffee vs. Tea Archives

CvT: Unproductive Alaska Talks Take US-China Tensions to New Heights

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.

CvT: Continuing the Strategic Ambiguity-Clarity Debate Over Taiwan Policy in the Biden Era

For the last forty years, the One-China Policy, the Six Assurances, and the Taiwan Relations Act have erected the pillars of the US’ Taiwan policy. Together, they mean the US will provide arms sales to Taiwan to ensure the island has sufficient ability for self-defense while not directly engaging in the sovereignty dispute between China and Taiwan. However, as China’s military power projection capabilities have progressed rapidly over the past few years, whether the US should adjust its policy towards Taiwan has stirred vigorous debate in policymaking circles.

CvT: Vaccine Diplomacy Marks New Turn in US-China Competition

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.

CvT: America is Back, but China Never Left – How the Biden Administration Intends to Rebuild US Leadership in the UN

Over the past four years, the US withdrew significantly from its traditional leadership role at the United Nations. The former administration's overall disdain for the multilateral system, which translated to numerous UN-related budgetary cuts and muted cooperation with traditional allies, has bruised perception of US leadership at the UN and created a power vacuum that China has been all too eager to fill. With US-China competition primed for increased friction, this begs the question of precisely how the US will counter Chinese influence in multilateral organizations.

CvT: The WHO’s COVID Response – A Deep Well Fueling Sinking US-China Relations

As the WHO has yet to release its formal investigative report, it remains to be seen how a US independent review of the findings will influence US-China relations. Given the current state of the bilateral relationship, a betting man would place his chips on a highly politicized release with a low likelihood for near-term cooperation between the two powers on pandemic-related issues.

CvT: How Will Biden Confront the Xinjiang Crisis?

On the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared ongoing “genocide” in the home of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s far western Xinjiang region. Pompeo set precedent as the first state official in the world to make a formal denunciation against the humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang, declaring that the Chinese state is attempting to “destroy” the ethnic minority group. The ball is now squarely in the court of the Biden administration to decide the US’ prevailing stance on the matter.

CvT: What Is ‘The Longer Telegram’ and Why Should We Care?

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.

CvT: A Shrinking Toolbox on US-China Human Rights Issues

With the arrival of a new presidential administration, many pundits have been predicting a return to traditional American values in US diplomacy. However, the reality is that there will be little room for change in US policy regarding human rights or democracy, even with Biden in the White House. Institutionally, there has been a general tendency for Congress to be the focal point of human rights as opposed to the executive branch, which inherently limits Biden’s ability to single-handedly address meaningful policy change.

CvT: US-China Manufacturing Takes a Lesson from the Pandemic

The politics surrounding manufacturing continue to strain relations between the two countries, demonstrated through events from the US-China trade war to the COVID-19 pandemic; highlighting the inequities in manufacturing and the devastating economic and social consequences of having an ill-equipped supply chain system. Although the pandemic acted as a wake-up call for US manufacturing, the focus on recovery post-pandemic and a new presidential administration provides hope for the US to level the playing field currently dominated by China.

CvT: Historical Narratives Setting the Future of the US-China Relationship

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.

CvT: As Defaults Blossom, SOE Reform Wilts

After nurturing Tsinghua Unigroup into a major player in the global chip industry, the government appears ready to cut the company, and others like it, loose in an effort to let market forces rather than political considerations allocate resources in China’s economy. However, unless Beijing tackles the root causes of the implicit guarantees that SOEs receive—their overwhelming size and continued access to subsidized resources—rising SOE defaults will not lead to better run economic entities. Instead, they will simply bring to light the inefficiencies that have long plagued China’s state sector.

CvT: Astronomical Opportunities in Space – The New Frontier in US-China Relations

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.
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