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How to Avoid Cold War with China

EXPERT POINT OF VIEW – A meeting – although virtual – between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping has finally taken place. It was a cordial and seemingly frank exchange that hopefully cooled some of the tensions between the United States and China.

President Biden captured the essence of the meeting with his concern that this tension “does not turn into conflict, whether intentional or not.” President Xi said, “China and the United States must increase their communications and cooperation” and “respect each other and coexist in peace.”

It’s hard to believe that in 1979, when official diplomatic relations between the United States and China were established, Chinese President Deng Xiaoping viewed the United States as the country that would provide the investment, technology and access. unlimited at our best universities. And the United States did not disappoint. Investments and sophisticated technologies have poured into China, with hundreds of thousands of Chinese students enrolled in our universities. Strategic bilateral cooperation first contributed to the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, with joint efforts to combat international terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Thus, in the space of forty-two years, relations have shifted from close economic and strategic cooperation to a preoccupation with conflicts, intentional or not. Naturally, researchers will spend a considerable amount of time analyzing what went wrong.

What’s important now is that relations between the United States and China are moving in a more positive direction. This tension over China’s aggression against Taiwan, the militarization of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, the internment camps for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the national security law in Hong Kong that suppresses democratic protests and intellectual property theft should all be discussed frankly by our diplomats and leaders to avoid misunderstandings and accidental conflicts.

President Biden said Washington continues to have a “one China” policy and “opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo.” President Xi is said to have said: “Beijing will take decisive action if the pro-Taiwan independence movement crosses a red line.”

The three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 specifically state that, among other things, “the decision of the United States to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests on the hope that Taiwan’s future will be determined by peaceful means; considering any effort to determine Taiwan’s future by other than peaceful means, including boycotts or embargoes, is a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific region and of grave concern to states. United.

The challenge for the United States and China is to grapple with Taiwan and a myriad of other irritants in bilateral relations to ensure that no problem or series of problems leads to conflict. Mitigating the rhetoric and pursuing a substantial and sustained communication policy, in particular on the part of our diplomats, would be a necessary first step.


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The annual Economic and Strategic Dialogue with China, led by heads of the State and Treasury Departments and their counterparts in Beijing, was established to monitor progress in addressing these and other difficult issues. Such a forum, with announcements to ensure the public is kept abreast of the issues and the work being done to resolve those issues, is only of value if the dialogue is substantive and not just ceremonial.

This virtual presidential summit can be transformative if, in addition to addressing these and other irritants, it also provides the opportunity to cooperate on a host of geopolitical issues that affect the security of the United States and China – and the United States. world.

I will start with the nuclear issue and the fact that there is minimal dialogue with China on its nuclear program. And given recent reports of the three sites in China with the construction of hundreds of missile silos and the recent DIA report that China, by 2030, will have a nuclear arsenal of 1,000 nuclear warheads is worrying. Ideally, China should participate in the New Start arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia. But they had previously refused to join this or any other arms control dialogue. At a minimum, China should be receptive to dialogue with the United States on nuclear issues, including its recent test of two hypersonic missiles.

A separate but equally important dialogue with China is on cyber, to ensure that the cyber domain is not militarized and used against our private sector for economic benefit. Also, to ensure that outer space is used exclusively for peaceful purposes.

There are a multitude of global issues requiring bilateral cooperation. We have recently seen some cooperation between the United States and China on climate change at the UN COPS 26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Obviously, more must be done, but this is a positive first step.

Other issues, like North Korea, can and should be addressed now. China has a unique lever with a North Korea which depends on China for its economic survival. China can use this leverage to get North Korea to resume negotiations and convince the North that full and verifiable denuclearization, in return for meaningful results, is in North Korea’s interest.

With more than five million victims worldwide and more than 760,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19, it should be evident that more bilateral cooperation on this pandemic and the future ones is needed.


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Bilateral cooperation on nuclear proliferation, the fight against international terrorism, drug trafficking and the fight against international organized crime are just a few of the global issues that affect the security of the United States, China and the United States. the global community. Failure to cooperate on these and other international issues is not only a security imperative, but a moral responsibility of all great powers.

Finally, with the Taliban returning to the helm of Afghanistan, the United States and China have a common goal: to ensure that the Taliban do not allow Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to use new Afghanistan as a base for its international terrorist operations. China has engaged this Taliban government and should use its significant financial leverage to ensure that all terrorist groups are permanently expelled from Afghanistan.

Xi Jinping was fair anointed by the Chinese Communist Party as one of its revered leaders, along with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Next year’s Party Congress will likely grant Xi a third five-year term as Party secretary general. There are a host of domestic issues requiring the attention of Xi and the Party, including a campaign of “common prosperity” – tackling the wealth disparity in a China ruled by a capitalist system with Chinese characteristics.

Hopefully President Xi Jinping will work with President Joe Biden to ensure that the two great powers, absorbed in domestic issues, also tackle the myriad of international issues requiring immediate and long-term attention and avoid war. cold that could escalate into conflict.

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