Growing isolation puts China and the United States ‘on the brink’ of a new Cold War
Growing isolation puts China and the United States ‘on the brink’ of a new Cold War

Growing isolation puts China and the United States ‘on the brink’ of a new Cold War

Baucus served as President Barack Obama’s envoy to Beijing from 2014-2017, overseeing efforts to create opportunities for cooperation, even as tensions simmered around human rights issues and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Relationships plummeted under Obama’s successor Donald Trump, whose trade war with Beijing and several other China-focused policies have largely remained intact under President Joe Biden.

“The relationship has gone downhill quite abruptly over the last many years and it’s getting worse,” Baucus said. “I thought maybe we reached the bottom after Trump [for] four years and Biden took over, but it is still going south. ”

While China is expanding the reach of its economic power through the Belt and Road Initiative, the United States is forming alliances in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, Baucus said, expressing concern that Washington and Beijing “just isolated each other in two separate, large camps.”

“It just seems that we are moving more and more towards a kind of cold war. It is not a nuclear cold war, but a technological cold war, a cultural cold war. “

His warning coincides with a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to South America, where Chinese investment projects have set in motion the growing scrutiny in Washington of Beijing’s development finance ambitions.

A U.S. official said ahead of the trip that Blinken would urge Panama to remain “clear-eyed” about how China and Chinese companies engaged in 5G infrastructure would “use your data.”

U.S. officials are also struggling to respond to a new security pact between China and the Solomon Islands, an agreement that could allow Chinese warships to stop in the archipelago, according to a draft leaked online.

Talks this week between officials from the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand saw all four countries agree on the “serious risks to a free and open Indo-Pacific” that the security framework poses, according to a White House statement released Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Beijing has accused the United States of “heating up bloc confrontation” in the region, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin warned on Tuesday that “attempts to interfere in and hinder the Pacific Islands’ cooperation with China will be in vain.”

A further strain of already tense relations between the United States and China is Beijing’s refusal to publicly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, complicating Washington’s attempt to lead a global, unified response to the attack.

Faced with the “eerie” state of US-China relations, Baucus on Tuesday urged those working on the issue to be more “aware” of what their counterparts said, rejecting the steep drop in visits and communications between the two country officials in recent years.

And while he was critical of what he described as the tendency of Chinese officials to stick to discussion points and restrict access for US diplomats, Baucus also spoke out against the general political rhetoric in the United States that greater engagement with China would lead them to to become “more like us”.

“We Americans tend to think we have a better idea of ​​how to govern the world than other people, and that’s an arrogant view,” he said.

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