Mike Pompeo and the Trump administration made parting remarks that very brazenly oppose China’s “training measures” in Xinjiang, where around one and a half million Uyghurs and Kazakhs were detained, mistreated, sterilized, and, according to the Trump administration, massacred. The current Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, agreed with Mr. Pompeo. This and other observations by the Biden administration indicate that in the future, tensions between America and China will only continue to escalate and may even result in a war comparable to the Cold War in the 20th century. But before we begin anxiously prophesying nuclear warfare, we must look into why this anxiety exists. In order to do that, we must look back to Mao Zedong and the inception of the People’s Republic of China.
Defeating the heretofore Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, the People’s Republic of China, a communist government, was instated. Shortly after, the Korean war broke out and the People’s Republic of China began supporting North Korea’s Communist regime and even retaliated against the U.N. and South Korea, in turn inducing millions of graves. After that, from 1958 through 1962, the Great Leap Forward caused town officials to be nervous and let farmers starve due to little to no surpluses. This caused the Great Chinese Famine which killed roughly 50 million people and worsened the then torpid economy. It was only until the April of 1971 when relations between America and the PRC had slightly improved; the Chinese Ping-Pong team welcomed members of the U.S. team to China. Quickly following, the United Nations acknowledged the People’s Republic of China, giving China a seat on the committee. A year later, Nixon, the previous president of the U.S, visited China for eight days and spoke to Chairman Mao Zedong.
Discussions then continued and relations became more durable, with Reagan permitting purchases of U.S. military equipment. After loosening up to international commerce and investment, as well as implementing free-market ameliorations in 1979, China became amongst the world’s fastest-growing economies, with real annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 9.5% through 2018, a velocity reported by the World Bank as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” Such growth enabled China, on average, to double its GDP every eight years and assisted in raising an estimated 800 million people out of poverty. Due to this wild economic growth rate, Bill Clinton signed the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 in October, granting Beijing continual common trade relations with the United States and paving the way for China to join the World Trade Organization in 2001. After that, in September of 2008, China surpassed Japan to become the most extensive holder of U.S. debt—or treasuries—at around $600 billion, furthering the interdependence of the two superpowers. And after some shady activity by both nations; Chinese Nationalist hackers, U.S. reconnaissance planes colliding with Chinese planes, and various different circumstances; Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping issued a joint statement on climate change, pledging to lessen carbon emissions.
Relations after this quickly deteriorated, with the Trump administration alleging Chinese theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property, and consequently announcing tariffs worth at least $50 billion. As a result, China retaliated against U.S. products and a trade war was incited. Trump further escalated the trade war by imposing new tariffs totaling $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. China requited with its own tariffs against five hundred U.S. products. In October, Vice President Pence condemned Chinese armed operations in the South China Sea, censorship, and religious persecution of Uyghurs. While that was happening, demonstrators in Hong Kong were protesting for a “high degree of autonomy” and democratic betterment, and celebrating when President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which requires U.S. officials to evaluate the level of liberty Hong Kong has and sanction officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong. Tensions rose and China and America attempted to reunite through a trade deal that lifted some tariffs. Shortly after, tautness soared, and continues to soar, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Both sides blame each other, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson claims, without proof that the U.S. army transported the virus to China, and President Trump blames the Chinese regime for the “Chinese virus.”
Tensions rise to an all-time high. U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, calls for a shift in U.S. policy, outlining the Xinjiang development, Hong Kong’s lack of autonomy, IP piracy, hostile moves in the East and South China Seas, and numerous additional pivotal issues. Shortly after, the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, calls China “the greatest threat to America today” and tensions continue to escalate. Now, we have to continue to see what the Biden administration does. The current Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, agrees, to some degree, with Mr. Pomeo’s remarks and that the U.S. may continue to be aggressive and confrontational towards Beijing. Otherwise, the Biden Administration will attempt to reunite with China despite the steps China has taken. We will just have to wait and see what happens from here.