China and US – On a confrontation course

The closure of the US consulate in Chengdu, China is a rather moderate measure. Still, relations between the United States and China could hardly be worse.

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — China’s leadership had no choice but to appear resilient: with the settlement of the US consulate in Chengdu in western China on Friday , it responded to the Chinese agency’s closure in Houston, Texas, ordered in the middle of the week. The decisions prove once again that relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China are worse than ever before.

But there is still a ray of hope: the government in Beijing could have reacted much harder, for example closing the consulate in the economic metropolis of Shanghai or even the representation in Hong Kong, where many Americans live.

There are several reasons why the relationship between the two countries is so bad: Xi Jinping has transformed the Communist Party (CP), which has been authoritarian in China since 1949, into a highly centralized organization since 2012. Its official goal is to restore China’s old size from imperial times by 2049, when the country temporarily dominated East and Central Asia.

This great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation , proclaimed by Xi, is also expressed in a new, very aggressive foreign policy. From Xi’s point of view, something like the Houston measure is further evidence that the US is China’s economic and geopolitical rise, that it wants to stop the great rejuvenation.

With a lot of pathos and nationalism

The diplomats of the foreign ministry, which is in the background until Xi’s inauguration, should openly represent the party view and therefore openly threaten their host countries, for example in the question of the latent network supplier Huawei suspected of espionage: Whoever does not want to buy and install the company’s 5G technology should use ” Countermeasures “, which Beijing understands to cause economic damage to the respective country.

China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, recently received worldwide attention, simply denying the well-documented abuse of the Uighur minority in China in a BBC interview. The KP maintains a special organization, the United Front, for the global formation of opinions about China.

Although resistance to this foreign policy is growing steadily in the United States, the EU and other liberal countries, China’s current CP leadership cannot and will not move away from its tough stance. This has domestic political reasons, because the great rise of China has been communicated into society with a lot of pathos and nationalism. On the other side of the Pacific is Donald Trump, who is at the same time a president who needs a scapegoat because of his dwindling election opportunities against challenger Joe Biden. And like 2016, it’s the People’s Republic of China again.

Donald Trump has staffed his government with numerous China hardliners. They now see an opportunity for a more robust anti-China policy. There are plenty of reasons for this. China’s handling of the outbreak of the coronavirus, a protectionist trade policy to this day, the militarization of the South China Sea or the hard crackdown in Hong Kong and the human rights violations against minorities in Xinjiang are only the most striking features. The highest ranking representative of American hardliners is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He gave a speech on Thursday on the topic , which is likely to be groundbreaking for the near future. The concern of former US President Richard Nixon that he created a “Frankenstein” with his opening policy towards the People’s Republic in the 1970s was prophetic, said Pompeo. What he means is that for a long time in the West it was hoped that China would somehow become more liberal and democratic through a more market economy and a slow opening. On the contrary, the country has become even more authoritarian. Pompeo accused China of “tyranny” and called on the “free world countries” to face the Beijing threat.

Against this background, the Chinese government’s return carriage to close the US consulate in Chengdu initially appears to be a balanced decision, one that tries not to continue the escalation too much.

Chengdu is located in the Sichuan province, where Tibetans live and which also borders Tibet, which is why the American consulate there is also responsible for Tibetan issues. China’s government is criticized internationally for violations of human rights, including in Tibet. The United States imposes sanctions on Chinese policies in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. Nevertheless, the Chengdu representation is considered less important for trade and economic activity in the United States than its consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

However, it is obvious that China’s relations with the liberal West are gradually falling apart under Xi Jinping . It is known that there are also senior KP cadres who do not want it that way. But Xi can probably no longer return from his course without losing reputation in his own country. And after the Pompeo speech, there is obviously no turning back from the American side to a more balanced relationship that existed in the pre-Xi period.

Even a democratically led US government under Joe Biden would undoubtedly have a very critical foreign policy towards China. Hillary Clinton has done that as Obama’s Secretary of State. There is also a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. Congress to take a tougher stance on China. Seen in this way, the current consulate affair is also an expression of new world political conditions.


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