Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
December 8, 2022
It is a bit of relief to hear that the US acknowledges that China seeks stabilized relation with the US. It means that, after six years (2018~2022) of high tensions, the US is working to avoid a new cold war with China. However, it takes two to dance: we have to understand what China has in mind. Then a series of productive dialogues will take place. But it will take earnest efforts from both sides to yield some tangible results. It takes time, patience, and skill!
The challenge for the US is that there is no coherent China strategy supported by both political parties. Further, the US is a very open society, and many different voices can come out anytime from anywhere, especially when the US faces domestic challenges. China often is a cheap scape goat.
It is almost impossible to tell from the US news media whether the US really wants a stabilized relation with China or not. For example, Campbell noted currently limited U.S. diplomatic, intelligence and military capacity in the region and added: “Building that is no small feat. It’s going to take a substantial period of time.” Can Campbell explain to the public in the US and China “what exactly the additional US capacity is needed” and the rationale behind the build-up there? Should that “capacity” be explained to the Chinese government so that China, as a response to the proposed US build up near China, should not be concerned and sit by quietly. What about the global outreach of the US with “diplomatic, intelligence and military capacity?”
Britain as a natural partner of the US, of course can announce “because we don’t have quite as many mechanisms as I think we need to be able to deal with whatever might come out of Chinese activity.” Britain, after the suicidal Brexit, has weakened dramatically. There is no reason, and no capacity, to check out Chinese activities, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.
While US Treasury Secretary Yellen is open to visit China and seek deeper economic engagement, another report tells “US Readies Sanctions Against Russia, China Over Human Rights.” It may be more productive to separate trade from domestic issues! Great Power Diplomacy is a fine art!
UPDATE 2-U.S. says China seeks stabilized relations with Washington, in short term
Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom
Thu, December 8, 2022 at 8:11 AM
WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) – China wants stabilized relations with the United States in the short term as it faces domestic economic challenges and push back in Asia to its assertive diplomacy, White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Thursday.
Frustrations over China’s strict COVID-19 protocols boiled over into widespread protests last month, the biggest show of public discontent since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. The rules had contributed to a slowing economy, but the recent easing of restrictions have also created fresh concern that the virus could soon run wild.
Campbell said those issues, coupled with the fact that China had antagonized many of its neighbors, meant it was interested in more predictable ties with Washington in the “short term.”
“They’ve taken on and challenged many countries simultaneously,” Campbell told an Aspen Security Forum event in Washington, mentioning Chinese territorial disputes with Japan and India. “I think they recognize that that has, in many respects, backfired.”
“All of that suggests to me that the last thing the Chinese need right now is an openly hostile relationship with the United States. They want a degree of predictability and stability, and we seek that as well,” Campbell said.
In the next several months, Campbell said, the world would see “a resumption of some of the more practical, predictable elements of great-power diplomacy” between Washington and Beijing.
“I think we’re going to see some developments that I believe will be reassuring to the region as a whole,” he said without elaborating.
Campbell said Russia’s war in Ukraine had led to more behind-the-scenes discussions in the Indo-Pacific about maintaining peace and stability over Taiwan, the democratically governed island China claims as its territory.
“If there were a challenge, it would have terrible consequences, strategically, commercially, and that is in no one’s interests. And so I think every country understands the delicacy here,” he said.
Campbell noted currently limited U.S. diplomatic, intelligence and military capacity in the region and added: “Building that is no small feat. It’s going to take a substantial period of time.”
Britain’s Washington envoy Karen Pierce told the Aspen forum there was a risk of miscalculation and misunderstanding with China “because we don’t have quite as many mechanisms as I think we need to be able to deal with whatever might come out of Chinese activity.
“And if you compare that to what we had with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, I think you can see there’s a deficit there,” she said.
UPDATE 1-Yellen ‘open’ to visiting China, will seek deeper economic engagement
Thu, December 8, 2022 at 1:54 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec 8 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday said she was “open” to visit China as she seeks to deepen economic engagement with Beijing after the leaders of the world’s two largest economies met last month, signaling a possible easing of tensions.
“I have no definite plan to visit China, but I am certainly open to it and look forward to more intense interactions than we’ve had over the last year or two,” Yellen said.
U.S. President Joe Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for three hours last month at the G20 leaders summit in Bali, a discussion that featured blunt talk over Taiwan and North Korea, but which sought to prevent tensions from spilling into a new Cold War.
In Texas, Yellen also said that China faces a “very complex problem” in adjusting its COVID-19 policies, which have caused growth to slow, but suggested that the use of Western-developed “mRNA” vaccines may help the situation.
Could be a good meeting as long as both countries stay on message which is economics. Since Biden doesn’t have a China foreign policy or trade policy, this could be a beginning (better late than never). Keep Kirby, Blinken, and Tai out of the conversation and there is a chance for progress.
US Readies Sanctions Against Russia, China Over Human Rights
Thu, December 8, 2022 at 7:42 PM
(Bloomberg) — The US is preparing a fresh round of sanctions on Russia and China for what it describes as human rights abuses by both countries, according to an official familiar with the matter.