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Anti-China forces in US need to be balanced to deescalate risks: expert

By Yang Sheng and Qi Xijia originally published on Global Times.

China and USA – GT


China-US Graphic: GT

China-US relations have been in a complex situation recently. On one hand, many top US companies have expressed their interest and confidence in China’s market and in the recovery of people-to-people exchanges in some fields, but on the other, the US is mulling to increase military activities in South China Sea, and Washington is taking new actions to contain China’s rightful development in the high-tech fields.

Experts from both sides said that the most important bilateral ties on this planet remain tense, even though some positive signs have emerged. This signals that while China-US relations have been somewhat stabilized, the relationship is far from recovered or improved.

China has done a lot to show its sincerity in managing differences with the US, and continued to build the bridge of friendship between the two peoples by issuing policies, but Washington has not done enough to fix the poisoned political atmosphere characterized by extreme hostility against China and Chinese in America. China hopes that groups and people from the US who support and benefit from China-US cooperation can act to balance anti-China forces in America, so the two sides can prevent the tension from escalating into an all-out confrontation, analysts said.

Complicated situation

US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns on Saturday posted a photo on his X account of his meeting with China’s NBA legend Yao Ming, also president of the China Basketball Association, saying that they discussed “how to strengthen the bridge that basketball has become between the American and Chinese people.”

As the US ambassador has also frequently made hawkish and hostile remarks on issues involving China’s national interests and internal affairs, experts said that Burns is trying to balance his image among the Chinese people by using his social media to say some nice-sounding things, but the key is that the US government needs to at least tailor their actions to their words.

Although some US scholars call for the recovery of connectivity between the two countries, many obstacles set by the US for the recovery of people-to-people exchanges have not been removed. For instance, some US airports such as Washington Dulles International Airport are imposing discriminatory and rude measures against Chinese students and scholars who wish to enter US territory.

Compared to the US actions that are inconsistent with its words, China has done a lot more to fix the damaged ties. At the beginning of 2024, China simplified visa applications for tourists from many countries, including the US.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met representatives from the US business, strategic and academic communities in Beijing on Wednesday, as China hosted a series of high-level events this week, demonstrating the country’s commitment to attracting more foreign investment and expanding its opening-up to the world.

China has made concrete efforts to show friendship and sincerity to the US, especially to ordinary people and companies, said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University. “This shows that China is taking on the responsibility to manage and fix the problematic ties, not only for China’s own interests, but also for the global economic recovery, but the US’ mindset of strategic competition remains unchanged.”

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that China’s recent efforts show that the Chinese leadership is trying to shape future bilateral ties based on the mindset of “making the pie bigger,” while US policymakers are embracing protectionism and the mentality of strategic competition.

Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said at a forum held in Beijing on Thursday that he wants “the hardest-line members of the US Congress” and their counterparts in China with a similar attitude to the US to go to each other’s countries.

“Those are the folks that are most pessimistic and most worried about the relationship. Those are the ones that actually need to travel more than anybody else, but those are also the ones who are traveling the least,” he noted.

Dangers remain

Meanwhile, the US is still imposing strategic pressure on China. The situation in the Asia-Pacific region has further intensified due to recent provocative actions of the US and its allies, analysts said over reports that Japan is slated to send its Maritime Self-Defense Force to conduct its first joint naval patrols with the US and the Philippines in the South China Sea later this year.

The sci-tech warfare is also intense. Reuters reported that the Biden administration on Friday revised rules aimed at making it harder for China to access US artificial intelligence (AI) chips and chipmaking tools, part of an effort to hobble Beijing’s chipmaking industry over “national security concerns.” The Commerce Department, which oversees export controls, has said it plans to continue updating its restrictions on technology shipments to China as it seeks to bolster and fine-tune the measures.

However, the latest act to target China’s sci-tech development does not overly concern Chinese analysts. The tightening of US restrictions on technology exports to China is not surprising, yet its impact on Chinese industry is shrinking given China’s industrial upgrading in recent years, Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing told the Global Times on Sunday.

Aside from high-tech sectors, other areas indicate a warming trend in the economic and trade sector. In the first two months of 2024, China’s exports to the US increased by 8.1 percent from a year ago, according to data from the Chinese Customs.

The China Development Forum held in Beijing last week also saw a significant increase in the number of US multinational CEOs attending, creating a more positive atmosphere for economic cooperation. The increasing economic and trade cooperation between China and the US is a positive trend that is likely to continue, Tian said.

Lü said China provides a huge and irreplaceable market for many US top companies in many fields, although they will face more challenges and more intense competition from Chinese companies. “They will be a constructive force to balance the unwise anti-China politicians and forces in the US and will reduce the risk of an escalation in the current tension.”

Da Wei, director of Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, said at a forum in Beijing on Thursday that China-US relations are not improving, but they have stabilized to some extent, compared to the past.

Da told the Global Times that the US public opinion environment has been poisoned by some US politicians and media outlets, which will lead to wrong decision-making in Washington on China. China should avoid following this path to make the same mistake of protectionism and abusing the concept of “national security” to harm trade ties, but it should at the same time continue opening-up and embrace healthy competition with companies that possess advanced technology from the US and other countries.


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