China-U.S. relations: A 'window of hope' to reset China-U.S. relations
By Yang Shanshan
When President-elect Biden steps into the White House, he will inherit a relationship with China at its lowest point in decades. I invited three experts to explain, beginning with one word, how they feel about China-U.S. ties moving forward.
Zhao Hai, research fellow from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "Emotional. Now it's the time to reopen the door and reestablish communications between the U.S. and China."
Einar Tangen, political and economic commentator, said: "Dual track. You have political erratic and economic realities. On one side, the vilification of China and on the other side, money is flowing and the market in China is too large to ignore."
Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of International and Strategic Studies at China Institute of International Studies, said: "Two tangles. It's the time to talk about differences and lower the expectations and for the two countries to get a new start."
A new start is everyone's hope, but it is not easy to get there. The Trump administration continues to take jabs at Taiwan issues and Chinese companies during its final hours, after four-year of trade war, closing consulates, restricting student visa, and banning Chinese tech companies like Huawei and TikTok.
Tangen believes that the initial engagement will be about environmental issues, because Biden appointed three people, not one, who are going to be working on climate change issues as a priority.
"China has been a leader in this area. It's no secret that John Kerry is the tsar of environmental matters. We will be looking to engage with China and Europe. The question is that you have to bring them together, to have a coherent global strategy." Tangen said.
Trade talks could be another ice-breaker. A U.S.-China Business Council study shows the trade war has led to the loss of over 245,000 American jobs. On the positive side, the study says if tariffs are scaled back, it could lead to an additional 145,000 U.S. jobs by 2025.
However, tech war is still inevitable. Zhao Hai, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, explains: "U.S.-China competition is fundamentally about technology. The U.S. wants to maintain its technological dominance in the world to protect its own position. However, it treats China's advancement as a threat to its national security. However, I think the U.S. and China can have certain rules for civilian and normal use of commercial technology. We now have complete rules in that area, and they can treat military and security technology separately."
Zhao Hai believes confrontation between China and the U.S. can be avoided, but reducing misunderstandings and rebuilding trust might be more difficult.
"America is intentionally constructing an enemy, an outside enemy for them, because their elites worried about domestic division. They need to unite their own people. So that's why they need a strong man as a target from the outside. So when they interpret China's intentions, they go through, for instance, China's documents, certain people's speeches. They created ideas that somehow China is seeking global dominance, and China is trying to replace the United States and kick it out of Asia. They have invented lots of intentions that China does not have. And because of these representations and misinformation, they scared the American People, and actually created a situation like I said emotions are running very high, and now more Americans now have negative ideas about China than five years ago."
China, on the other hand, must learn to better understand American intentions, send clear signals, and reopen opportunities to talk. Su believes that to review bilateral relations will be the first part from China's perspective.
"China believes that it's time for the two countries to try to talk with each other. Stop blaming each other, and try to point to some sensitive and negative points, will be the first part to resolve the problem."
At the beginning of 2021, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "a new window of hope is opening," with the ball now in the U.S.'s court to move things in the right direction.
Handling China-U.S. relations will be one of the defining themes of Biden's time in office. However, this might not top his agenda for the time being until Biden has solved the pandemic and restarted the U.S. economy.