“Cold War” Feared for US China Relations

Amid warnings by both sides, and ongoing trade deal negotiations, one veteran of the US-China relationship, Henry Kissinger, said the US and China were in the “foothills of a Cold War”. In the South China Sea, US Navy warships continue to rile Beijing by sailing near islands claimed by China. This article is a summary of important US China news in November 2019.

Donald Trump angered China’s ruling party by signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, one of more than 150 other pending bills that aim to counter China on multiple fronts. While China had warned of consequences, the main one appeared anger, as observers said Beijing was unlikely to retaliate in a way that would undermine ongoing trade talks. “We’re in the final throes of a very important deal,” Trump claimed, and China promised to raise penalties for IPR violations, but with little progress on a phase one deal an ambitious “phase two” deal appeared even less likely.

The US launched a new Mandarin-language news network, to counter Chinese influence, but Beijing overtook the US to claim the largest diplomatic network in the world. And it’s not just building embassies. In the “people’s war” in the South China Sea, China “is rushing ahead with preparations to ensure it would gain the upper hand in any armed conflict over its territorial claims.”

Earlier, Trump renewed his threats to raise tariffs if Beijing doesn’t meet his demands. Hopes of a limited “phase-one” pact this year remain stymied by their core differences, although some sources claimed that negotiators are on the “doorstep” of a deal. China’s top trade negotiator invited his American counterparts for a new round of face-to-face talks.

A Bloomberg investigation into Trump’s China plans concluded that “one man’s impetuousness has confounded attempts at strategy”. As former Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei warned the nations’ rivalry is at risk of becoming a “financial war”, a US bipartisan commission recommended that Congress enact a raft of legislation to counter China’s “unfair economic practices”, saying the US must gird itself for a prolonged strategic competition.

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