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The Escalating Tensions in China - U.S. Relations

BY: Michael Yik

The China-US relationship has historically been one of the most dynamic and complex international relationships in the world, with rapid mutual economic growth since 1980. Both the US and China have placed 1st and 2nd in terms of their economic size respectively, thus resulting in abundant benefits from their relations. Though mostly stable, this relationship has experienced open conflicts, most notably during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Despite their past conflicts, Sino-US relations have continued. China’s population viewed US relations positively until 2016. These numbers have declined sharply since Trump's presidential climb to office. 

President Trump and his administration have expressed, on multiple occasions, a certain distaste towards China, using labels like “currency manipulator” and “strategic competitor.” And Trump has ramped up his bashing of China amidst this Coronavirus pandemic. Trump has shown himself to be capable of making racially charged and controversial comments, and is especially well known on Twitter for directing his spite at China and other targets.

In 2018, Trump launched a trade war against China, banning numerous American companies from trading with Chinese companies like Huawei, and increasing visa restrictions on international students from China. These actions have led to trade tensions between the two nations, and have caused both to be wary of each other as both trade competitors and potential enemies. Considering recent events, most notably the Coronavirus pandemic, the China-US relationship is at a tipping point, with both countries engaged in a global blame-game centreing around the virus. The US even is cutting funding for the WHO (World Health Organization) after Trump claimed the WHO was “China-centric” and had promoted China’s “disinformation” regarding the outbreak. Moreover, Trump has made comments branding the virus the “Chinese virus,” which has been controversial, and has incited racism across the US towards Asian-Americans.

With all this buildup of tension finally reaching what seems to be a climax in light of the pandemic, rumours of a new “Cold war" between the two countries are brewing. The rest of 2020 will serve as a test for what could potentially occur regarding Sino-U.S. relations, with many potential outcomes still left on the table. As of now, with how things stand, relations have never been more unstable. Additionally, regarding the upcoming US presidential election, China is again being used as a scapegoat with statements such as “My opponent is soft on China, fails to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party, and can’t be trusted to take them on.” There are many more factors able to change the ongoing tensions between the two countries in the foreseeable future for better or worse. And the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election will certainly be influential.

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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