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Escalating tensions

  • 24 July, 2020

  • 10 Min Read

Escalating tensions

Context:

-   U.S. administration’s decision to close China’s consulate in Houston.

Rising tensions between US and China:

-   A tariff war between the two countries started in 2018. The increased tariffs on Chinese goods by the U.S. received retaliation from the Chinese in equal measure.

-   The U.S. has labelled China a Currency Manipulator.

-   The U.S. has expressed concerns about Huawei, the Chinese technology giant and its role in the 5G technology dissemination. The U.S. has been asking its allies in the western world to boycott Huawei.

-   The U.S-China tensions are no longer only about trade and technology. What started as a trade war has snowballed into a larger geopolitical contest between the two countries.

-   The U.S. passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act as a token of support to the Hong Kong protestors. China considers this move of the U.S. as interference in its internal matters and has strongly criticized this move.

-   China has repeatedly blamed the U.S. of not respecting the One China policy given the U.S.’s outreach to Taiwan.

-   The U.S. has announced visa restrictions on Chinese students, imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over a Hong Kong security law and is reportedly considering a sweeping travel ban on the members of China’s ruling Communist Party.

-   China recently expelled some American journalists.

-   China’s activities in the South China Sea have been repeatedly condemned by the U.S. and the U.S. has recently dispatched its aircraft carriers to the region.

Details:

-   The order asking China to close its consulate in Houston marks an escalation in the steadily deteriorating ties between the U.S. and China. This is the first time a Chinese mission is being closed in the U.S. since the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 1979.

-   The U.S. administration has accused the Houston consulate and other Chinese diplomatic missions in the U.S. of economic espionage, visa fraud and attempted theft of scientific research.

Increasing Anti-China sentiments in the U.S.:

-   As against the popular notion that it is only the current U.S. administration that has been taking a hard stance against China, there is growing consensus in the U.S. that a hostile China, resorting to large-scale espionage, poses a serious threat to the U.S.-dominated international order.

-   The U.S. Congress has been supportive of the President’s confrontational policy towards China.

-   This is what makes the crisis dangerous in the long term.

China’s response:

-   China has retaliated against every hostile move by the U.S.

-   The U.S.-China crisis is unfolding at a time when China is also acting more assertively in its dealings with other countries in its neighbourhood.

-   This approach seems to indicate a message from China that it is ready for a long game of escalation.

New cold war situation:

-   The U.S. policies and China’s retaliation has done serious damage to bilateral relations that cannot be reversed easily. If the deterioration in relations is not arrested immediately, the U.S. and China risk a total breakdown in diplomatic relations.

-   The escalation in tensions between the world’s two most powerful nations has been unprecedented and something the world hasn’t seen since the hostile competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Impacts:

-   The deterioration in U.S.-China ties is bad news for the whole world.

-   Given the fact that the U.S. and China are the two largest economies of the world, a breakdown in ties between the two countries could have adverse implications for the global economy.

Source: TH

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