Sunday, February 7, 2010

China-US Bilateral Conflicts

Recently, China-US relations have become rather tense. When the Google controversy is still lingering on, hiccups have raised further over the US arms sales to Taiwan. This is in addition to the on-going disagreements on China-US trade issues. Now that President Obama has announced that he would meet with the Dalai Lama when the later re-visit the United States, the chaotic Sino-US diplomatic ties seems even more confusing to many people. However, in the writer's view, all these Sino-US bilateral conflicts are but normal process between the two countries. We should not over interpret and over amplify the contradiction between China and the United States.
Trade, Taiwan, and Tibet are the "3T" problems that have accompanied the China-US relationship as long as we can remember. If we do not observe the existence of these "3T" problems in the dealings between China and the United States, the absence of them can contribute to abnormal China-US ties.

Taiwan, Tibet, Trade Disputes
The "3T" issues can best reflect the China-US relationship. In trade dealing, the two countries have developed an interdependency phenomenon that both nations have to rely and support each other based on their respective national interest. It was because of this trade factor that the Chinese Government was willing to help President Barack Obama's "New Deal" by coming forward to assist in the US debt problem in time of need in 2009 since both countries could see the shadow of each other in this bilateral trade ties. However, at the same time, both countries cannot avoid the ongoing disputes in the China-US trade balance.

Cross-Straits Relationship
As for the Taiwan factor, although China and the United States' position on Taiwan is like a "seesaw game"; and although each round of US arms sale to Taiwan would inevitably lead to rising conflicts between the two countries, but the arms sale to Taiwan issue has become a more and more low key issue. This is in addition to the fact that the cross-straits relationship has become better and better as time goes by. As we take a closer look at the Tibetan issue, it remains a fact that the influence of the Dalai Lama who is at dying age has weaken to the degree that the Dalai Lama can only depend on engaging frequent visits to foreign lands in order to provoke China. However, the hard-line attitude of Beijing toward Tibet has also led the Western major powers to become more cautious in wanting to interfere with the Tibetan issue in China. This was also the reason why in 2009 President Obama has avoided meeting up with the Dalai Lama in order to consider the feeling of China. As for the Google controversy that has led to war of words between China and the United States, in the writer's opinion, the reason that prompted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in wanting to launch the so called "network diplomacy" war globally is but her "smart diplomacy" diplomatic game advocated by the Obama administration.
After all, Barack Obama is the US President. He is a Democrat US President. In dealing with issues relating to the press freedom, human rights and religious freedom, President Obama's criticism on China over these issues will certainly have his own value judgment and personal perspective. We should not take such criticism as surprises.
Moreover, we should also understand that the national situation and condition between China and the United States differ greatly. When the United States suffered a once in a century economic and financial crisis, it is understandable that the fight for self interest among the different US groups from the US Congress to labor unions and to different sectors in the US society can become complicated. All these complications have added pressure to the US Government. As a result, since the political ideology of China and the United States differs vastly, and since China and the United States have treated each other as mutually important trading partner, China has logically become an outlet for the various US opinion groups to vent their anger and grievances. As a US President, President Obama has to make use of the "3T" issues, the Dalai Lama and Google controversy as his effective strategy to ease the domestic grievances as well as to ease his political pressure and to divert the existing domestic contradictions elsewhere.

Changes in US Political Pattern
2010 is the year the United States will carry out its midterm congressional election. If we say the US people simply do not care about the China-US ties at the 2008 presidential election, then the China-US relationship will become the focus of attention for the US people in the coming mid-term election. To the United States 2009 was the "crisis year." During that crisis year, the US Government and US media have joined hands to create the concept of G2 (US and China) to rule in the world affairs. Although China has never acknowledged the G2 concept, but this G2 concept has already misled the US people into believing that China is the main rival country for the United States. A commentary in the latest issue of the "Washington Watch" said: "If the unemployment problem remains serious in the United States, and if the US people continue to hear good economic news coming from China, the negative emotions of US voters toward China will definitely go up." In this context, if President Obama does not take the advantage of the present anti-China public opinion that exists in the US society and play along with it, the Republican Party will take advantage of this issue to work against President Obama. In the end, the Democratic Party might end up losing the superior dominant status in both the Senate and House in the US Congress after the midterm congressional election.

Aggressive Anti-China Strategy
For the series of disturbances that happened recently between China and the United States, the Chinese leaders, the Chinese media and the Chinese people should treat them rationally and take careful approach to respond to them wisely. In response to President Osama's over-intimate China-US ties in 2009, it is time for the Chinese officials and Chinese people to mentally prepare for President Obama's new thought on China and observe his deeds and words more carefully. After all, Chinese officials and Chinese people should not forget that the China-US bilateral relationship is not really a partnership relationship. When the US officials described the China-US ties in a Chinese idiom in Chinese language as "feng yu tong zhou" or the so called "when two are in the same boat, the two parties will have to sail through wind and rain through thick and thin" it is but a diplomatic jargon. In reality, the most important aspect of China-US bilateral relationship is more referring the political game both countries have to fight and win in the long run.
From the high profiled US-China G2 doctrine to the flame of the G2 gradually died off, and from Sino-US disputes in Copenhagen to the Sino-US quarrels over trade disputes, it is clear that the US attitude toward China has evolved. The previous un-respect and contempt sytle of anti-China sentiment has become the present furious type of anti-China sentiment. The United States wants China to assume more global responsibility but China has objected. On the surface, it might seem that the focus of the US anti-China strategy remains at hitting the "3T" issues. However, in term of purpose and motive, this current anti-China strategy launched by the US Government has taken a new twist. It has become a phenomenon that the higher and more aggressive the United States tries to launch anti-China strategy on China, the more counter balance effect in strength and power of the two big nations can emerge. In this regard, the more frequent the United States executes its anti-China measure on China, the more China can grow stronger each day thus reflecting the weakening of the US power in the international community.

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