If China is a rising power, the USA is an established power. One should not be in the illusion that the United States is a diminishing or retreating power while thinking of China as the new hawk. With all the military, economic and strategic forces at hand with both the US and China, countries around the world should not be mistaken to put their eggs in one basket: In the basket of China or the USA. It is a fact that the harsh narratives from both sides have engineered a situation of the cold war era around the world, but both powers ought to negotiate with each other to pursue long-term goals and provide a healthy environment for the world to develop.
It is a fact that cooperation and consensus are important for the healthy development of the world, but it seems that the great powers are not ready to cooperate in many areas. Global climate change, improving health, the infrastructure around the world, abiding by the nuclear policies and many other areas are such where US and China are taking care of each other, but there is more than this. World powers make their places at the top not just by waging wars, but also through soft powers.
When seen from this perspective, China is influencing the countries around the world through its economic policies. It is heavily investing in the infrastructure of developing countries. Goods and services are flowing from and into China because of the cheap and affordable prices.
In this way, China is making allies around the world
The US on the other hand is still thinking about its traditional allies. The trade relations of the US are improving with her trade partners, but not with the new players. Take the example of ASEAN countries. For the past two decades, US and Japan have been investing in each other as the economy of Japan was the best in the world. The Japanese economy was almost 10 times greater than the economy of ASEAN. Today, the economy of ASEAN is slightly less than that of Japan, while the US is still unable to take advantage. China, on the contrary, has taken the top spot with ASEAN, almost doubled its shares with ASEAN in the past decades.
There is also a stark difference in the technological advancement of the USA and China. The United States has been occupying the top spot in the field of technology, owing to its top universities. Washington is not only heavily investing in higher education but is also attracting the brightest minds from the world. China, on the other hand, is depending on the academics and research of the west and is taking advantage of their hard work. But the future of technology lies in the court of China because of artificial intelligence.
China has accelerated its funds to research and development and is aiming to be the leader of AI in 2030. The obvious reason for this development is the Chinese hold on the data resources. Beijing is using the data of people in a way as it likes. The mass surveillance system of China is clearly helping them to use the data for AI. The trained and disciplined engineers and a workforce of China are also paving the way to its AI dominance as it requires trained staff, not an undisciplined scientist.
Taiwan is another boiling issue between the US and China
Since the Mao revolution in China, Taiwan has been trying to uphold its separate image across the world. China, on the contrary, terms it as its part and has been trying to make it under its direct control. The US has not extended direct military support to Taiwan but is trying to press China behind the curtain in the matter of Taiwan. Beijing is also in the race to make the international community understand that Taiwan is an internal matter of China and no one should deal with it separately.
Recently, Lithuania let the Taiwanese officials open its embassy on its name instead of Chinese Taipei. This move has antagonized the Chinese officials. Resultantly, the govt of PRC has banned imports from the Lithuanian govt and asked companies not to import goods manufactured in Lithuania. The US and its allies in the west have claimed their support to Lithuania against China, which is in direct support to Taiwan.
There is a row of disagreements between the two powers. Human rights violation is also setting the cooperation at the back burner, as Washington calls China to stop the alleged human rights violation in the Xinjian province. According to classified reports, the Chinese govt is having a large genocide going on in the province, victimizing the Uyghur community. This province is largely populated by Muslims and other minority groups. The Chinese govt is treating them in concentration camps in the name of education; molding their views in support of the Chinese ideology and culture.
The United States has passed many sanctions against China on this basis
‘Recently, it has passed a bill that aims to ban imports from Xinjian province. The Hawaii telecom company of China was also banned by the Trump administration as it was alleged of being involved in the surveillance of the region. China, on the contrary, is justifying the matter on the basis of its sovereignty and terms it as its internal matter. It is also paying a deaf ear to the US allegation of human rights violation in the region and interprets human rights in its own way.
Arms control, Hong Kong and the Chinese investment around the world in the shape of belt and road initiative are also some of the factors contributing to the conflict. But there are many more areas where both countries can welcome each other. Climate change is a global threat and both countries are ready to solve this issue in their best interests. Securing free trade lines around the world is also in the interests of both countries and they can cooperate in this domain. Along with that, the covid-19 pandemic has shaken the roots of the international system and it is the need of time that both these countries take arms against the pandemics.
The virtual summit, in November, between the two leaders was a welcoming move. Skeptics point out that the summit has not resolved any issue and call it a shot in the dark night. But the bright side of the summit is that it has opened a window for dialogue. It sparked the hope that the two countries can meet and solve the issues which the world has been facing. If there is a misunderstanding between the two powers, the world will be forced into another cold war like-situation. The best way is to open a dialogue, talk about the issues, and resolve them for good.
The writer is a freelance writer. He can be reached at safiullahkhan070@gmail.