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created May 3rd, 04:15 by MCC21



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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s marathon talks with top officials in China, which includes President Xi Jinping, have underscored the desire of the two countries to stabilise their relationship and the resultant challenges. Mr. Blinken stressed that the U.S. would make sure that the competition between the world’s two largest economies “doesn’t veer into conflict”. Mr. Xi said they should seek common ground “rather than engage in vicious competition”. But the Blinken visit also exposed the structural fault lines in the Sino-American competition. He raised America’s concerns about what he called China’s “support for Russia’s defence industry” and threatened actions if Beijing “doesn’t address this problem”. China slammed the “hypocrisy and irresponsibility” of the U.S., which just decided to send military aid worth $61 billion to Ukraine and then made “groundless accusations” against normal economic and trade exchanges between China and Russia. China also attacked the U.S. policy towards Taiwan and the South China Sea and urged Washington to look at China’s development “in a positive light”.
Both the U.S. and China have mutual deep misgivings. U.S. National Defence Strategy documents name China as a “revisionist power” and a pacing technological and military challenger. The U.S. has imposed export controls to limit China’s growth in strategic sectors, particularly semiconductors, and imposed high tariffs on Chinese goods. It has also doubled down on its support for Taiwan and bolstered defence cooperation with the Philippines, which has disputes with China in the South China Sea. Beijing has blamed the U.S. for South China Sea tensions and called Washington’s support for Taiwan as an intervention in its internal affairs. While it is practically impossible to reset ties given these structural challenges, there are areas of cooperation as well. In November 2023, when Presidents Xi and Biden met in California, both sides decided to resume bilateral military-to-military communication, cooperate in addressing the risks of artificial intelligence and launch efforts to control the production of fentanyl. Tackling climate change and global food security are also areas of cooperation. A key lesson from the Cold War is that if competition between superpowers turns ugly, it could affect the world through proxy conflicts, economic wars and diplomatic crises. As the two most powerful countries, they should stay away from repeating history. Even if they are not able to resolve their ideological and geopolitical differences, they should build the guardrails that could prevent the competition from turning ugly and stay focused on the areas of cooperation, addressing the common challenges of the world.

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