A battle with no signs of letup

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A battle with no signs of letup

The author is the head of the China Institute of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Some say that the Ukraine war serves a “strategic opportunity” for China. China gets breathing room as the pressure from the United States weakens. Is it really the case? Nearly four months after the war, a Chinese thinktank analyzed that the “comprehensive threat” is imposed as if the U.S. started a “subjugation” rather than lowering the pressure. The report analyzed that the U.S. pressure on China started in economy and trade but ideological elements have been added to turn it into a “comprehensive threat” and a “great subjugation campaign.”

According to the report, the United States is currently conducting strategic competition in five areas. The first is accelerating the establishment of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to encircle China. The second is beating Chinese companies through finance. Among more than 250 Chinese stocks listed in the U.S., more than half have been placed on the temporary delisting list on over six occasions. The third is the ideological field, carrying out indiscriminate attacks on China with value-based diplomacy advocating liberty, human rights and democracy. The fourth is the “salami tactic” of provoking China with Taiwan issues. The fifth is a complete siege of China in military, science and technology fields.

As a result, there are three possible contests between the United States and China. The first is a high-intensity power struggle — in other words, full-scale military confrontation between the U.S. and China. The second is the moderate fight that leads to various decoupling. Civilian exchanges as well as science technology and economic areas will be suspended. The third is a low-intensity power struggle as the U.S. encourages anti-China sentiment with the Chinese threat theory. In the end, U.S.-China relations cannot improve over a short time. The gist of the report is that China should adapt to the new normal of “tension between America and China” and try to establish a China-centered order in trade and finance.

The report analyzes the trend of the U.S.-China relations after the Ukraine crisis, but it has the weakness as it is limited to China’s boundary. It fails to address the problems of the Xi Jinping system when analyzing aggravating relations between the two. China always argues that the United States suppresses China’s rise to cover up its domestic issues or to maintain hegemony. But it cannot explain how China’s problems of the current authoritarian system provoke policies to deter China regardless of factions in the U.S. As the analysis on the cause is insufficient, it cannot come up with proper solutions. The result will be a continuation of the Sino-U.S. conflict.
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