In 2022, there were many events that should be noted; we can say this is the hinge of history for humankind. China has integrated into the Western regime, especially in the economic order, which benefited not only Western consumers but China itself. The integration gave some opportunities for the West to export to the immense Chinese markets, and helped China get rid of its former state of extreme poverty as well. In the past, China got some support from the strongest lobbies in the US, including the US-China Business Council and the United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce. They have advocated more trade with China for over four decades, as well as investment in and from China. However, in recent years, they have been silenced, and most Americans now possess a negative attitude toward China. As US-China relations are eroding, people may ask, what reasons have made these two countries’ relations become tense? It is the result of three trends.
First, China is building an opposing model to counter the liberal and market-oriented models which are built from the West. In 2003, a short time after China joined the WTO, its prime minister, Zhu Rongji stepped down because those state-owned industries that dominated inland provinces opposed embracing the more liberal market to compete globally. Now those pro-state wings in the Chinese government are much more influential than in 2003, and China keeps subsidizing those state-owned companies with their tremendous state buying power and ignoring its commitment to sign a side agreement limiting its governmental procurements. Nowadays, because of China’s slow market opening, even the biggest credit card company, Visa, cannot reach a large market share in China, which is dominated by Union Pay.
Second, Chinese nationalism has dampened hopes for a democratic China. This brand nationalism of China under Xi is too aggressive, which has damaged China’s reputation in the West. Because of nationalism, Chinese hubris, which can be seen in their foreign policies, may lead the PRC into danger. China has asserted its dominance of the whole South China Sea, and those statements have led to tense relations between China and fellow claimant countries in the region.
Lastly, China believes surveillance is a useful tool to control the state. The leadership of China, as well as the Chinese Communist Party, believe a stable society is helpful for their long-term governance so they use some tools such as drones, facial recognition, and the SkyNet system to track every resident. The recent “zero-Covid” policy is a good example, it looks like President Xi not only treats Covid as a pandemic but also further restricts personal freedoms.
China’s path is far away from the US and the West, and the US no longer believes that engaging China in a liberal regime will bring democracy to China. China’s hubris makes them believe they can grasp such advanced technologies as semiconductors or Covid vaccines in the future. However, no country can single-handedly be the best in all of those complicated components, rather they need global supply chains to support them. Those supply chains need a huge amount of cooperation and trust in each partner, which has been squandered by President Xi.
Written by Eddie C.
Edited by Ari B.