"End of engagement"
Courtesy of The Economist
As I've mentioned before, the U.S.-China relationship has evolved into a new level of rivalry, with both sides dropping engagement policies and instead adopting starkly antagonistic tones.
"America fears that time is on China’s side," The Economist writes in its cover editorial:
"The Chinese economy is growing more than twice as fast as America’s and the state is pouring money into advanced technology, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and biotech.""Action that is merely daunting today — to stem the illegal acquisition of intellectual property, say, or to challenge China in the South China Sea — may be impossible tomorrow."Why it matters: "Like it or not, the new norms governing how the superpowers will treat each other are being established now. Once expectations have been set, changing them again will be hard. For the sake of mankind, China and America need to come to a peaceful understanding."
The big picture: In the longer article that accompanies the cover editorial, the magazine describes the shift in American views towards China:
America is undergoing a deep shift in its thinking about China on right and left alike. There is a new consensus that China has a deliberate strategy to push America back and impose its will abroad, and that there needs to be a strong American response.
The coalition takes in conventional free-traders in the White House as well as the zero-summists in Team Trump and the national-security hawks in Congress. Pentagon chiefs and the bosses of spy agencies have framed China as the greatest threat to America’s security, requiring a “whole of government” response.
In civil society, the coalition includes religious conservatives, human-rights advocates, labour unions and old-school protectionists. ...
On October 4th Vice-President Mike Pence hammered the new attitude home in a de facto declaration of cold war.
The other side: The American shift, long overdue some longtime China watchers believe, finds a welcome audience in part of the PRC leadership:
Well-connected scholars and retired officials have shared their concerns with Western contacts about a febrile mood within China’s national-security establishment. They detect genuine excitement over the prospect of a great-power contest in which China is one of the protagonists. This coincides worryingly with the squeezing of public space for discussion.
Scholars are not now supposed to debate foreign policy in the open, and strident nationalists dominate what debate there is. Even the idea of an expensive arms race with America strikes some Chinese experts as a fine plan, given their confidence in the long-run potential of their economy.
The big question: Are you ready for the new era of U.S.-China relations?