Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum


[email protected]

Compared to US-Russia relations, there is really nothing much going on between the US and China, except talks.

News: U.S.’s Blinken holds talks with China’s Wang on Ukraine situation Wed, January 26, 2022, 8:43 PM

Jan 26 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Wednesday to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in talks on global security and the economic risks that could stem from further Russian aggression against Ukraine, the State Department said.

“Secretary Blinken … conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward,” department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Global security and the economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine figured in the talks, the statement added. (Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

News: Wang Yi holds phone talks with Blinken

By Global Times Published: Jan 27, 2022 01:06 PM

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held phone talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday. Blinken briefed Wang Yi about US stance on Ukraine. Wang said the solution to the Ukraine question must go back to the new Minsk agreement.

Wang also said that a country’s security cannot come at the cost of damaging other countries, also, regional security cannot be guaranteed on the basis of expanding a military bloc. Wang urged all sides to cast aside Cold War mentality and solve Russia’s rightful concerns.

On China-US relations, Wang said the most urgent thing is for the US to stop disrupting Beijing 2022, stop playing with fire on the Taiwan question and stop forming small cliques to contain China.

US Media hardly covered that Career Diplomat Nicholas Burns was sworn in as the new U.S. ambassador to China on Tuesday (January 25, 2022), Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on her Twitter account. There is no set date for Ambassador Burns to arrive in Beijing. At the same time, news report from China is “the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed serious concerns and dissatisfaction over “The US State Department is considering allowing its embassy and consulates to authorize the departure of their employees in China, citing “China’s epidemic situation.”

COVID-19 Pandemic is of course a global issue of great concerns. Specifically, the US and China adapted very different pandemic management polices with very different results. Especially, cross-nation air travels have been difficult. When diplomats’ travel privileges are considered, it is even more sensitive.

While the US is engaging Russia with a face-to-face confrontation risking a large-scale military action in Europe, US and her European allies are fully consumed by such a crisis. The crisis originated from Europe’s dependence of Russian energy supply in the winter. US is already working on securing sufficient emergency energy supply for her European allies before any military confrontation with Russia because Russia could fully cut off her energy supply to Europe. In this sense, no European nation is seriously interested in directly challenging Russia. To avoid a real war, US must deal with Russia and make some concessions. For example, today the US delivered the written response to Moscow as requested by Russia. But no details of the US written response are disclosed. It raises an important question that such a response is a genuine US official response or just a Biden’s response? Because Republicans are already blaming Biden being too soft dealing with Putin. What would happen if the Republicans took over the house or senate majority after the mid-term election in early November this year?

With his busy schedule, Secretary Antony J. Blinken spoke at the Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture Series on January 24, 2022. It was a very lengthy interview covered every dimension of the current world affairs. A summary of his remarks on China was surmised by The South China Morning Post , attached as following.

We summarize the status of current US-China relations:

  1. Biden administration, after one year in office, is engaging with China remotely. It sounds like that US and China are talking to each other from the two shores of the vast Pacific Ocean.
  2. The US talk points have not changed for one-year, so does China. Both are occupied with domestic issues. China will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games soon, under the dark cloud of COVID-19 Pandemic, health and safety are the top priorities. 2022 is also a busy and political active year in China thus we do not expect any major initiative from China.
  3. The US is focused on China, but mostly the US has been busy doing her homework. Domestically, US has to re-build her “strength” before she can really confront China. It is not easy with Biden’s low support level at home in the mid-term election year. Internationally, the US must rebuild her global network of allies with a united front for dealing with China. It is a challenge for Biden and time is short.
  4. China has handed her issues with the US in written last year in China and the US will have to respond in writing before any high-level meeting happen.

Blinken says Beijing is bringing more aggression to competitive and cooperative ties Tue, January 25, 2022.

The US-China relationship is becoming increasingly adversarial, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who on Monday criticised the Chinese government for being “more assertive and aggressive” than in previous decades.

During a virtual discussion hosted by the Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta, Blinken reiterated that there were both competitive and cooperative components to the China policy that United States President Joe Biden‘s administration had adopted in its first year.

“But we see increasingly, as well, adversarial aspects to this,” Blinken said. “And that is in large part because … this is in many ways a different China on the world stage over the last few years than we’ve seen in the last few decades: much more assertive, much more aggressive, whether it’s in the region or beyond.”

Blinken’s laundry list of criticisms of the Chinese government included its economic practices, human rights record, treatment of intellectual property and funding of overseas infrastructure projects that lacked adequate environmental protections and failed to use local labour.

Yet, even as he assailed China on those fronts, Blinken attributed Beijing’s increasing prominence on the world stage in part to Washington’s own rejection of multilateralism in recent years – alluding to the go-it-alone approach of former US president Donald Trump.

“As we stepped back, they stepped in,” Blinken said, referring to Beijing. “And that is not in our interest.”

Blinken’s remarks came as Washington and Beijing struggle to agree on the timing and agenda of a potential face-to-face meeting between top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan amid ongoing efforts by both sides to prevent tensions from veering into conflict.

The South China Morning Post previously reported that a proposal by the US for the meeting to take place earlier this month was rebuffed by the Chinese side in the wake of the Biden administration’s announcement of a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The administration’s announcement of a boycott in December was followed by a flurry of similar announcements by US allies, indicative of the Biden administration’s efforts to rally other countries to confront China on matters such as human rights and economic practices.

“When it’s the United States taking this on alone, we’re 20 or 25 per cent of world GDP [gross domestic product],” Blinken said. “When we’re doing it in concert with partners and allies in Europe or in Asia, it’s 40, 45 per cent, 50 per cent of world GDP. That’s a lot harder for China to ignore.”

Stormy relations with Beijing are just one of numerous foreign policy challenges that have entangled the Biden administration in its first year. Others include the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border and the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.

Biden has maintained many of the hawkish China policies put in place by his predecessor, including tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports, sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses and an official determination that Beijing’s treatment of ethnic minority groups in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region constitutes “genocide”.

And while the administration has sought to ramp up engagement with China on issues such as combating the climate crisis and arms controls, there remains little appetite in Washington for any softening of China policy with lawmakers of both parties pushing legislation to counter Beijing in areas including defence, human rights and technology.

The Biden administration has endorsed a number of those efforts, including a bill to boost federal funding for the semiconductor sector that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday would soon be introduced in the House of Representatives, following the Senate’s passage of similar legislation last year.

Blinken said on Monday that if enacted, the semiconductor legislation would mark a “major step forward” in the administration’s efforts to bolster the US’ own competitive edge to counter China.

But even as he took issue with the Chinese government over its actions at home and abroad, Blinken rejected the idea of a full decoupling between the world’s two largest economies, describing the notion as “faulty” and “misguided”.

“Done the right way, trade, investment – including with and from China – can be a good thing,” he said, qualifying that those commercial and economic ties must take place on a level playing field.

And he welcomed the idea of Chinese investment in overseas infrastructure projects, provided they were carried out to sufficiently high standards.

“The world desperately needs investment in infrastructure, and if China’s providing some of that investment, a lot of that investment, that’s not inherently a bad thing,” Blinken said. “It could be a good thing, provided it’s actually done to the highest standards, not the lowest standards, that it’s a race to the top, not a race to the bottom.”

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

The following is the full text when Blinken disused US issues with China.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken at the Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture Series


AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT:  Well, thank you for such a comprehensive description of the situation and our potential actions.  Let’s move to China.  They’re about to host the Winter Olympics.  Historically, as you know, when a rising power challenges an established power, there can be friction, even wars.  Can we avoid a new Cold War with China?  After all, we have an unusual situation, really unlike Russia:  Our economies are mutually dependent, we cooperate on climate change, they are supportive of limiting Iran’s nuclear capacity.  But under President Xi Jinping, China has embarked, as you well know, on a much more aggressive foreign policy and a much more repressive domestic policy.  In fact, you’ve yourself called their treatment of the Uyghurs genocide.  Their militarization of the South China Sea, their Belt and Road Initiative, their overflights threatening Taiwan – just in the last day or so almost 40 warplanes over their airspace – their regional trade initiative – all of these are really quite provocative.

Do we see China as an adversary, an enemy, a competitor, or partner?  Can we be more competitive in Asia by, for example, rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership?  How do you see China with such a mixed picture?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, I think it’s clear to pretty much everyone that there is no more complex and no more consequential relationship than the one between our countries, and probably no relationship in all of its dimensions that will do more to have an effect in shaping the coming decades.  So it is central to our foreign policy; it’s central to our focus, our thinking, as well as our actions.

Second, though, I think it’s – from my perspective, at least – impossible to sum it up in a bumper sticker.  When you look at the relationship – and you just alluded to this very well – we see competitive aspects to it, for sure – and, parenthetically, nothing wrong with competition as long as it’s on a level playing field – we see still some cooperative elements, to include, as you mentioned, potentially on climate change, but a number of other areas; but we see increasingly as well adversarial aspects to this.  And that is in large part because, as you said, this is in many ways a different China on the world stage over the last few years than we’ve seen in the last few decades: much more assertive, much more aggressive, whether it’s in the region or beyond, by a variety of means.

And as we’re thinking about this, I think there are some really important common denominators that are animating our policy and our approach to China across each of these dimensions: the competitive, the cooperative, the adversarial.  One is that we are much better off and much more effective in dealing with China in each of these areas if we are doing so in coordination, collaboration with partners and allies.  And that goes to what I was saying at the very outset, that one of the reasons that we’ve invested so much in revitalizing our alliances, revitalizing our partnerships, revitalizing our engagement in international institutions is to make sure that in dealing with China, we’re doing it together.  Our combined weight makes a much bigger difference in terms of effect than when we’re doing it alone, even the United States.

Just to cite one example, when we’re engaging China on economic issues, in areas where we have profound differences and concerns about their practices, when it’s the United States taking this on alone, we’re 20 or 25 percent of world GDP.  When we’re doing it in concert with partners and allies in Europe or in Asia, it’s 40, 45 percent, 50 percent of world GDP.  That’s a lot harder for China to ignore.  And across the board, we’ve been doing this to make sure that, among other things, we’re better placed to deal with the challenges posed by China.

Second, it makes sense to make investments in ourselves to make sure that we’re as competitive as we can be.  And that too has been front and center in what the President’s done and continues to try to do.  If you look at this over time, in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, we were the number-one or number-two country in terms of the investments we were making in ourselves – in education, in infrastructure, in innovation, research and development.  We’ve slipped dramatically in each of those areas, and meanwhile China has risen up in each of those areas.

So if at a minimum we’re not making the investments in ourselves to be as competitive as we possibly can be, we’re shortchanging our ability to deal effectively with the challenges that China poses.  And that’s a big part of why we’re seeking to make these investments, particularly when it comes to education, when it comes to infrastructure, and when it comes to innovation, research and development.  If we have that kind of foundation in place – strong alliances and partnerships that increasingly converge around the right approach to China and sufficient investment in ourselves – we’re going to do very, very well in this competition across all of its manifestations. If we don’t, it’ll be harder.  So the stakes are real and we’re pursuing them very, very vigorously.

AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT:  So there’s a bill that passed the Senate with very strong bipartisan support to increase our competitiveness and reduce our reliance on China for computer chips and other products.  But it’s really languished in the House.  Is the administration going to give priority to get that passed?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  In short, yes, we are – we have, we are.  It should come together; it should pass.  You’re referring to the CHIPS Act.  And – among other names that it goes by, and this would be a major step forward in making exactly the kind of investments I’m talking about in ourselves, particularly in the semiconductor sector.  So we hope that it does move forward; it should.  But there are other things, Stu, that are so important that we’re doing.

And let me just step back for a second, if I could, because this goes to, I think, the broader approach that we’re taking.  I mentioned not only the need and the work that we’ve done to revitalize our alliances and partnerships.  And, of course, this is beyond – this goes beyond China.  There are profound reasons for this across our foreign policy, and let me just – brief detour, brief parentheses.

It’s almost a cliché, but cliches are important because they usually have a foundation of truth to them.  And we hear often and we say often that the nature of the problems we face today and that are actually having an impact on the lives of our citizens simply can’t effectively be addressed by any one country trying to deal with them alone, even the United States, for all of our power and resources.  And so if you’re thinking about climate change, we’re 15 percent of global emissions.  Even if we did everything right at home, that doesn’t account for the other 85 percent of emissions that we somehow have to help deal with.  So we have a strong stake in working with other countries to try to deal with that.

Similarly, on the thing that is afflicting all of us and shaped this evening, COVID.  We know from hard experience that as long as the virus is percolating anywhere, it may be developing new variants and those variants may come back and defeat the defenses and remedies that we put in place.  So we have a profound stake in working with other countries to try to get COVID under control.

Emerging technologies, things that are really shaping people’s lives.  We can’t govern all the norms, the rules, and standards that define how they’re used alone.  It’s profoundly an international endeavor.  And we need to be working with others and international institutions to do that, to exert our leadership.  So that’s beyond China, even, a very fundamental and basic reason for this investment in alliances and partnerships, in international organizations.

But there’s a second piece to this, and that goes to our own leadership and engagement.  Because here’s what we know:  If we are not engaged, if we are not leading, then one of two things happens.  Either someone else is – and probably not in ways that advance our interests and values, and what’s happened in recent years is increasingly that someone else has been China.  As we stepped back, they stepped in, and that is not in our interest.  And we see that in international organization after international organization where the day-in, day-out work of international relations gets done, where lots of rules and norms and standards that actually govern our lives in ways that most people don’t even see but feel takes place.

So we very much stepped in there.  And across the board this engagement is important because, again, if we’re not doing it, someone else may be, or maybe no one is and that usually creates a vacuum into which bad things flow before good things do.  So the approach that we’ve taken across the board is directly applicable to how we’re trying to deal effectively with China.  And again, that involves shoring up alliances, partnerships; having a common approach; and making sure that the United States itself is once again engaged, once again at the table.  You know the old expression:  If you’re not at the table, you’ll probably be on the menu.  We are and will remain at the table.

AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT:  That’s a great answer.  I do hope we can find a way of having a bigger trade and investment and economic footprint in Asia as well.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  You’re exactly – Stu, you’re exactly right about that.  I was just in Southeast Asia just before the new year, and one of the things we started to put forward is an affirmative economic framework and agenda for the region.  It’s vitally important.

Here’s a good example of one of the things we are doing.  You mentioned China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  And let me say that, look, on one level the world desperately needs investment in infrastructure; and if China is providing some of that investment, a lot of that investment, that’s not inherently a bad thing.  It could be a good thing, provided it’s actually done to the highest standards, not the lowest standards; that it’s a race to the top, not a race to the bottom.

One of the problems, leaving aside the strategic piece of why China is doing this, one of the problems we’ve seen just in terms of the way it goes about making these investments in infrastructure is it’s had a tendency to burden countries with tremendous debts that they couldn’t afford and couldn’t get out of, either in order to pay China back for these investments, having to divert resources from other parts of its economy, or, in effect, default and have China own the asset.

It’s often brought its own workers to build these projects at the expense of local workers.  It’s done so —

AMBASSADOR EIZENSTAT:  (Inaudible) 150,000 of them in Africa.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right, exactly.  And it’s often done so to shoddy construction standards, with little respect for the environment, and certainly no respect for workers and their rights.  And there have been some interesting stories about that recently.

So it’s important to offer an affirmative vision, and not just a vision, an affirmative alternative.  And that’s one of the things that we’ve done by putting forward and now building out something we call Build Back Better World, which, in partnership with the G7 countries and others, is a way of making significant investments in infrastructure around the world, but to high standards, not low standards, in ways that we think will be ultimately more attractive to the people on the receiving end.  But look, if China wants to do this to the high standards, I’d welcome that.  The world needs the investment.

Let me say one other thing about this.  Look, I think that the notion of fully decoupling from China is a faulty one and in many ways potentially misguided.  Again, done the right way, trade, investment, including with and from China, can be a good thing.  But if the playing field is not level – and it’s not because of the many practices that China engages in – that is a problem that has to be very effectively addressed.

And second, when it comes to investments, when they go to particularly sensitive areas, sensitive technologies, sensitive industries, of course, we have to effectively guard against that, because when it comes to investments from China there is no distinction between the companies making them and the state.  Any Chinese institution by law is beholden to the state, and anything that the investor does or learns ultimately is to the benefit of the state at any time.  And given China’s unfortunate attitude toward human rights, toward privacy, toward intellectual property, it is with real peril that investments go forward in strategically meaningful industries, sensitive technologies.

But as you know, again, Stu, from doing this for so many years, when it comes to effectively guarding against problematic investments, or for that matter when it comes to making sure the technology that we export and others export doesn’t help benefit a country like China strategically, militarily, we are much better off doing this in a coordinated way with other countries.

And when it comes to investment, building a very high fence around a well-defined piece of territory, of land that really is strategic, that really would make a difference, as opposed to trying to erect a very low fence around everything, which we simply can’t do effectively, and would cut off commerce that’s actually beneficial, including to our workers and to our people.

So it’s a long way of saying that, as with most things, you’ve got to be tough and smart at the same time, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

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