The relations between Washington and Beijing, which have always been fluctuating and complex, represent – in the current geopolitical moment – a condition for the systemic sustainability of the planet.
In view of the next meeting between American President Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi in San Francisco, The Global Eye is in dialogue with Zhiqun Zhu, PhD, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Bucknell University, USA.
What is the ‘temperature’ of relations between Washington and Beijing?: With the Biden-Xi summit in San Francisco and many high-level exchanges in preceding months, the “temperature” of the US-China relationship is likely to rise a little bit and normal exchanges are slowly being resumed. However, this is not a “warm” relationship, and probably will never be, given the competitive nature of the relationship. Talking to each other is definitely preferable to confrontation. The Biden-Xi meeting is an essential step to manage the relationship so that the two countries can live peacefully and cooperate wherever they must despite their vast differences. However, obstacles to the improvement of relations remain strong. For example, the Biden administration has to deal with strong resistance from a hysterically anti-China US Congress.
There are many critical areas between the two superpowers…: Critical issues in the relationship include Taiwan, the South China Sea, high tech, climate change, and the global order. While the two countries share common interest in combating climate change, they fundamentally disagree on most other major issues, and in some cases such as Taiwan, their interests are incompatible. Yes, increasingly the competition is focusing on new technologies. Both countries seem to believe that those who prevail in technologies will dominate the world economically and militarily. This explains why technology competition will intensify between the two countries even if relations may improve somewhat after the Biden-Xi summit.
Spaces for cooperation must be opened: The areas that they need to cooperate include climate change, public health, nuclear non-proliferation, poverty reduction, etc. Again, due to the competitive nature of the relationship and lack of mutual trust, even cooperation in areas where they have common interests is not so easy.
Professor Zhu has received many research fellowships and grants. A noted scholar on Chinese foreign policy, Prof. Zhu is a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations (New York) and is frequently quoted by international media on Chinese and East Asian affairs. He maintains a popular column for ThinkChina in Singapore
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