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Is US and China Entering a New Cold War

Is US and China Entering a New Cold War

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian

A slew of recent announcements on China by U.S. President Donald Trump is a clear indication that the competition between the U.S. and China is likely to sharpen in the post-COVID world.

Announcement made:

  1. On May 29, the Trump administration said it would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status under U.S. law.
  2. The administration also passed an order limiting the entry of certain Chinese graduate students and researcherswho may have ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
  3. The U.S. President has also ordered financial regulators to closely examine Chinese firms listed in U.S. stock markets, and warned those that do not comply with U.S. laws could be delisted.

US miscalculations – China’s rise:

  • US have had a strange fascination for Chinaever since the early 1900s.
  • Then the Protestant missionariesdecided that it was God’s work to bring salvation to the Chinese.
  • Books like The Good Earthby Pearl S. Buck and Red Star Over China by Edgar Snow in the 1930s romanticised the country.
  • Even after the Chinese communists seized power, the Americans hoped to cohabit with Mao Zedong in a world under U.S. hegemony.
  • The Chinese allowed them to believe thisand extracted their price.
  • S. President Richard Nixongave China the international acceptability (UNSC permanent seat) it craved in return for being admitted to Mao’s presence in 1972.
  • President Jimmy Carterterminated diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to normalise relations with China in 1978.
  • President George H.W. Bushrelaxed his stand on Tiananmen in 1989 for ephemeral geopolitical gain;
  • President Bill Clinton, ushered the country into the World Trade Organization at the expense of American business.
  • All American administrations since the 1960s have been complicit in China’s rise in the unrealised hope that it will become a ‘responsible stakeholder’ under Pax Americana.

Chinese preferred to hide its intention through anti-Soviet rhetoric during the Cold War and market principles thereafter — to disguise their real purpose of thwarting U.S. hegemony.

Every Chinese leader from Chairman Mao to President Xi Jinping has been clear that the U.S. represents an existential threat to the continued supremacy of the communist regime.

Leader Mao put it best, when he told high-ranking leaders in November 1959, that the “U.S. is attempting to carry out its aggression and expansion with a much more deceptive tactic… In other words, it wants to keep its order and change our system.” (Memoirs, Chinese leader Bo Yibo).

The collapse of the Soviet Union only reinforced this view and strengthened China’s resolve to resist by creating its own parallel universe.

Chinese Parallel Universe:

  1. Alternate trading system (the Belt and Road Initiative)
  2. A multilateral banking system under its control (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank)
  3. Its own global positioning system (BeiDou); digital payment platforms (WeChat Pay and Alipay); a world-class digital network (Huawei 5G).
  4. Cutting-edge technological processes in sunrise industries; and a modern military force.

 It is doing this under the noses of the Americans and some of it with the financial and technological resources of the West.

Voices of caution have been few and far between:

Political scientist John Mearsheimer, wrote in 2005 that the rise of China would not be peaceful at all. General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Hu Jintao’s had earlier assured the world  about “peaceful rise” of China. 

Clash in the ideological domain:

  • China’s decision to enact the new national security law for Hong Konghas been condemned in unison by the U.S. and its Western allies as an assault on human freedoms.
  • With Hong Kong, the U.S.-China rivalry may, possibly, be entering the ideological domain.
  • Reports about Chinese interference in the internal affairs of democraciesare common.
  • Hong Kong is not only a bastion for Western capitalism in the East, but more importantly the torch-bearer of Western democratic ideals.

China viewed through the Trump administration:

  • He has called China out on trade practices andon 5G.
  • It was Mr. Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy documentthat, clubbed China along with Russia as a challenge to American power, influence and interests. 
  • His recent China-specific restrictions on trade and legal migration are, possibly, only the beginning of a serious re-adjustment.

The interdependence:

  • Both the economies are tied together: from farm to factory.
  • The U.S. is heavily dependent on supply chainsin China and the Chinese have been unable to break free of the dollar. 
  • If US wishes is to disentangle China’s supply chains, Mr. Xi is equally determined to escape from the S. ‘chokehold’ on technology.
  • To what extent the de-coupling is possible is yet to be determined, but one thing is inevitable, India will become part of the collateral damage.

Road ahead:

  • The lines are beginning to be drawn between the Americans on the one side and China on the other.
  • India enjoys close tradeand defence ties with the US and trade ties with China.
  • Any conflict between US and China will affect India too. Only India’s capacity to maintain strategicand decisional autonomy will be helpful in such a situation.

Source:” The Hindu “.

Possible UPSC CSE Mains Question:

For the past few years the conflict between US and China is rising and it became apparent with COVID-19. Do you think there will a new cold war?  What will its implications on India?