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President Biden, possibly most famous for his - and his son's - business dealings in China coming into question whilst running for the Presidency, may wake up this week to find out from one of his top advisors that he's now a China hawk.
That is, if you ask Kurt Campbell, the U.S. coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council.
Campbell said this week that the U.S. was "entering a period of intense competition with China as the government running the world’s second-biggest economy becomes ever more tightly controlled by President Xi Jinping," according to Bloomberg.
Campbell, speaking at Stanford University, commented: “The period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end. China will now operate under a new set of strategic parameters. The dominant paradigm is going to be competition.”
"China is determined to play a more assertive role,” he said. He said that President Xi has “almost completely disassembled nearly 40 years of mechanisms designed for collective leadership.”
He cited President Xi's policies as reason for the "shift" in U.S. policy: China's economic war with Australia, its military clashes near India and the rise of what he called "harsh power" or "hard power".
China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said this week: “China-U.S. relations will naturally experience some competition, which is prevalent among other major-country relations, but it is wrong to define the relationship with competition because it will only lead to confrontation and conflict.”
The comments came at the same time that U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He were speaking for the first time. Tai had noted prior to the discussion that the U.S. and China faced "very large challenges" in diplomacy.
Meanwhile, President Biden appears to finally be waking up to the idea that Covid may not have occurred, and/or made its way out of China, naturally, and asked the U.S. intelligence community to redouble its efforts in investigating the origin of the virus this week.
When Biden asked for an “evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,” China's embassy in Washington called it a "smart campaign and blame shifting".
Wang Yiwei, director of Renmin University’s Institute of International Affairs and a former Chinese diplomat, commented on the growing tensions: “The U.S. idea of engagement is one that has conditions and is about bringing China into its system, not only in economics but also in politics. The U.S. sees China overtaking its own economy, so it is looking to contain China and prevent it from moving up the value chain.”
Campbell concluded: “We believe that the best way to engage a more assertive China is to work with allies, partners and friends. The best China policy really is a good Asia policy.”
Meanwhile, we can't help but wonder if the shift in attitudes will affect whatever Chinese Board designation Hunter Biden is working on achieving this week...
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Lanxin Xiang, China and the Pivot, p.119
China is on the way to replace the United States as the world’s indispensable superpower underpinned by the world’s largest economy based on purchasing power parity (PPP) with an estimated GDP of $26.66 trillion in 2021 compared with $21.43 trillion or 24% bigger, the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), its strategic alliance with Russia and the petro-yuan. Neither a US containment policy nor intense competition can arrest its rise to the top.
The BRI is already enabling China’s economy to integrate deeply into the global trade system and open markets for its economy through helping countries of the world by soft loans and financial aid to improve their infrastructure and create wealth-creation projects.
The strategic alliance between China and Russia is already transforming the current World Order from a unipolar to a multipolar one.
Russia and China share a strategic vision against the unipolar world: both see the United States in relative decline and the world already becoming multipolar. In the process of mismanaging its decline, the US suffers from a psychological problem that manifests itself in the unfounded fear of power challenge from potential rivals, hence its persistent attempts to hinder their rise. The world is changing and the world order must be revamped. Pax Americana is over and Washington must adjust to the new world.
Coincidentally, the Chinese view on the world order at this historical juncture is shared and dovetailed by Putin’s Russia. Both sides hold the view that Washington’s alienation from both Beijing and Moscow is reflected by the deeply rooted fear of losing hegemonic status as the “only indispensable superpower”. The indications of the US fear are plenty. From Beijing’s point of view, the US decision to restart a Cold War containment strategy with the pivot towards Asia was driven by misguided fear. From Moscow’s perspective, the Western alliance took advantage of post-Soviet chaos to push the Western sphere of influence towards the Russian border.
The launching of the petro-yuan could mark the beginning of the end of the overwhelming dominance of the petrodollar in the global oil market. The petro-yuan is in effect making a claim to global oil reserves.
The petrodollar is the core of the US financial system. Undermine it and you undermine the US financial system.
It is probable that the Chinese yuan will emerge as the world’s top reserve currency
within the next two decades with the petro-yuan dominating global oil trade.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London