Friday, April 2, 2021

New Era in U.S.-China Relations

Secretary Tony Blinken’s first exchange with China’s Communist Party’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, became heated before they finished their opening remarks and the two pushed protocol aside as each attempted to make its case in full force. The four-minute photo op became a 1:15-minute debate over the flaws and ill-intent of each country. The media described the exchange as “testy,” “frothy” and “rocky.” At the conclusion of the exchange, it was clear a new era had begun for China and U.S. relations.

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, with the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the Center for China-US Cooperation and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver convened a panel of experts on March 24 that addressed foreign policy and public opinion amid the threats and opportunities China presents.

Free and Open Indo-Pacific and China – Key Points

Professor Koji Murata – Professor of political science at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan

  • Former President Trump was relatively popular in Japan because of his tough stance on China and his solid relationship with Former Prime Minister Abe.
  • While President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga’s relationship is undetermined, Biden is taking a tough stance on China and trying to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance as well as promote multilateral alliances.
  • Biden and Suga have some background similarities that could help the relationship: both are in their 70s, are part of former presidents’ cabinets, are from humble backgrounds and are pragmatic politicians.
  • Forecasts show that China’s GDP will surpass that of the U.S. by 2028, and also that India’s population will surpass that of China’s by 2035.
  • Japan is on the frontline in the power struggle between the U.S. and China 

Professor Suisheng “Sam” Zhao – Professor of foreign policy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in Denver and director of the Center for China-US Cooperation

  • China doesn’t like the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific because it suspects the motive is to contain its rise to power.
  • Southeast Asian countries are very cautious about China; the Philippines, Singapore, other small nations are reluctant to take sides.
  • Xi Jinping is engaging in a campaign to assert power – the dragon is roaring back to reclaim its rightful place in the world.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative has become the second-largest international development program — larger than the World Bank’s — in its attempt to strengthen ties with developing countries.
  • The Chinese-Russian partnership has developed beyond anyone’s expectations and the driving force is their concern about the U.S. meddling in their neighborhood.
  • China is influential in the “E-7” — emerging countries, including India, Iran, and Mexico — which in 2015 overtook the G7 GDP and, by 2035, is expected to double that of the G7.
  • Alongside China’s increased maritime power, it has become more assertive in its territorial disputes in the South and East China seas; its continued actions and rhetoric regarding taking back Taiwan have grown extremely dangerous.

Professor Floyd Ciruli – Professor of public opinion and foreign policy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research

  • The Biden administration is focusing its full attention on Asia. Its first meetings were with Japan and leaders from Australia and India.
  • The initial meeting with China set the tone for competition with engagement on some issues, such as climate change, but disagreement on values, such as human rights, rule of law and democracy.
  • China and Russia have developed an alliance that is anti-U.S. and reversed the shift that began with Nixon in 1971 (50-year swing).
  • China’s behavior toward Hong Kong and Taiwan shows a stepped-up and aggressive assertion of territorial claims.
  • China’s behavior related to COVID-19 has led to an unfavorable shift in U.S. and democratic countries’ opinions away from China and its leaders. China is seen as a threat in the U.S.
  • A new era in U.S.-China relations will involve considerable competition; the primary U.S. platform will be ideals and values.

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