US China Tensions Linger
President Trump attracted a great deal of attention through his stance towards China, including his implementation of tariffs against numerous Chinese goods. When President Biden took office, we thought there was a possibility that tensions would ease, with less combative rhetoric and tariffs that were more narrowly targeted rather than broad based. But while tariffs are attracting less attention, a host of other issues have festered.
We are not going to pretend to be diplomatic experts, but as described at https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/26/us-china-tianjin-meeting-wendy-sherman-xie-feng-wang-yi.html, when China’s Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng states that US-China relations are “in a stalemate” and presents US officials with two lists, including a list of “errors” for the US to address, we would conclude that there are unresolved disputes between the two countries.
During his term in office President Trump imposed tariffs and sanctions in China as a response to longstanding US complaints about access to markets, intellectual property protection, and forced technology transfer from US firms. The Biden administration has reportedly been reviewing these tariffs, but has left them in place while raising a host of other concerns with China, including alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. In turn, China has called for the lifting of sanctions on Chinese officials, removal of visa restrictions of Chinese students, and more.
It may be that US-China relations are headed for a new Cold War; that is the concern of economist Stephen Roach, as expressed at https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/25/disturbing-actions-by-china-signals-cold-war-stephen-roach-warns.html. In the meantime, Chinese regulators have been cracking down on a number of tech and education companies. Economist Noah Smith speculates at https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/why-is-china-smashing-its-tech-industry that the crackdown is derived from an emerging Chinese industrial policy that is emphasizing geopolitical power over the consumer sector. Whatever the motivation, it doesn’t appear that a dramatic turnaround in US-China relations is at hand anytime soon.
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