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US-China Relationship Marked by Suspicion, Mistrust

Updated: May 5, 2023

For many years there has been friction between the United States and China due to economic disagreements, military concerns, and ideological differences. The new suspicions that China is aiding Russia in the current crisis in Ukraine have further damaged the relationship. Nicholas Burns, the US ambassador to China, urged for discussions with Beijing to address these issues, although it is unclear whether Beijing will do so.

It is troubling that the US imposes sanctions and technological limitations while being unwilling to engage in productive discourse with the second-largest economy in the world. The US-China relationship is vital for the world as a whole as well as for the two nations.

As the world's two greatest economies and greenhouse gas emitters, the US and China must work together to handle issues like terrorism, climate change, and economic progress. Recent events, meanwhile, seem to be pointing in the opposite direction for the relationship. The US has sanctioned Chinese officials and businesses and accused China of abusing human rights in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. China has retaliated with sanctions and other actions.

Using worries about national security as justification, the US has also placed technological limitations on Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE. These limitations have affected Chinese businesses and sparked retaliation from China, which accuses the US of attempting to check its rise.

The current trade conflict between the US and China has made the situation much more difficult. China has responded to US tariffs on Chinese exports by imposing taxes on US imports. Both economies have suffered as a result of the trade spat, and there are worries that it could trigger a global recession.

The recent warning from the US Ambassador to China on backing Russia in the conflict in Ukraine is concerning in this perspective. It demonstrates how scepticism and mistrust still characterise the ties and how the two nations remain very far apart on important topics. Burns' request for talks with China is a step in the right direction, but it is unclear how Beijing will react.

The US has come under fire from the Chinese leadership in recent years for allegedly trying to stop China's rise and meddling in its internal affairs. Through programs like the Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese government has also been increasing its sway in the area.

It is uncertain whether the two major powers can reach an understanding on crucial matters like trade, human rights, and regional security in light of these tensions. They refuse to cooperate to combat global issues like terrorism and climate change. These objectives and the maintenance of a secure and prosperous global order will remain in limbo so long as the US and China refuse to engage in a constructive dialogue.


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