The relations between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China can be traced back to the years after the US gained independence. The relations have been based on economic cooperation and political diplomacy. However, the rapid industrialization of China brought a new economic regime that posed stiff competition to the US with regard to foreign policy as well as economic and military supremacy.
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Currently, China is the biggest competitor of the United States. Its economy has grown rapidly in the past few decades: it has become a hub of technology and innovation and has invested heavily in developing economies in Asia and Africa. The US and China are two of the largest economies in the world. Therefore, in the next decade, competition between them for economic, political, and military supremacy will intensify.
In that regard, in the next decade, the People’s Republic of China will be a foe and the United States will have to enact certain policies in order to maintain its political and economic supremacy. Approximately 46 percent of Americans feel that their country’s global influence has declined significantly while 76% of Americans believe China plays a greater global role than it did a decade ago.
Background of US-China relations
The US-China relations have existed since the 1940s when the US supported China in the Pacific War. The relations began under the presidency of George Washington in 1845, which led to the signing of the Treaty of Wangxia (Tan 34). The partnership ended after China was taken over by communists.
However, the relations resume when Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 (Tan 41). Since then, the relations have been positive until the implementation of the Asia pivot strategy by President Obama and the ongoing trade wars with the Trump administration. For many decades, the China-US relations were based on economic cooperation and strong political alliances (Tan 54). However, they have morphed into intense diplomatic relations, stiff economic and military competition, and growing international rivalry.
Why China will be a Foe
In the past decade, China has made several strategic decisions that have had serious implications for the foreign policy of the United States. These decisions include strengthening its military, increased foreign investment in Asia, Africa, and other developing regions, increased investment in Europe, and affiliations with Russia (Tan 62). China will be a foe in the next decade because its economic and political policies and strategies are aimed at challenging the status of the United States as the leading military and economic superpower in the world. In addition, its rapid economic growth and military expansion are suspicious.
Worldwide Military Expansion
In 2007, China increased its budget on defense by 18 percent, raising concerns with regard to the rationale behind the raise (Tan 74). The United States became concerned because the move did not reflect China’s goal of growing its economy peacefully. The major concern was that China was strengthening its military in case of altercations with the US regarding their foreign policies in Europe and Asia (Kim).
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However, China argued that the move was aimed at providing better training to its forces and offering better remuneration in order to enhance national security and territorial integrity (Kim). Lately, China has been expanding the presence of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the East and South China Seas. Moreover, it has reinforced its commercial and military activities in foreign countries. These actions show that China is aiming at becoming a global military power.
In that regard, the second-largest economy will pose a challenge to the United States with regard to maintaining peace in East Asia (Denoon 74). For example, China’s claim to the Spratly Islands and international waters is a threat to the US because of its improved military and economy (Kim). Political and economic wrangles are expected to continue because China has accused the US of threatening its sovereignty by conducting navy drills in the Spratly Islands region (Mingjiang and Kemburi 57).
Theft of Technology and Intellectual Property
In 2014, the US Department of Justice indicted 5 Chinese nationals on allegations of stealing trade technology from American companies (Smith). The five nationals had links to China’s People’s Liberation Army. The decision by the US started a war that led to Beijing suspending its cybersecurity working group with the US. In 2015, the US reported that a major online breach of the Office of Personnel Management was conducted by Chinese hackers (Smith).
The personal information of more than 22 million people was stolen and the breach was described as a threat to national security. China has been accused of stealing the Unite States’ intellectual property by investing in US industries (Mingjiang and Kemburi 69). President Trump argued that China’s industrial policies and practices were a threat to the US economy and national security (Smith).
According to the White House, China is involved in technology theft, coercive and intrusive regulations, coercive export quotas and duties, information harvesting, and investment in high-technology sectors. The US claims that the “Made in China 2025” plan is a plot to infiltrate advanced technology sectors such as artificial intelligence (Smith). In the past, the US has stopped the acquisition of American companies by China. These include Cowen, HERE, Qualcomm, MoneyGram, SkyBridge Capital, Lattice Semiconductor, and Aleris (Smith). These deals were canceled by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US in the last two years.
Escalating trade wars
The current trade war between the US and China is likely to turn China into a foe rather than a friend. The US imposed tariffs on Chinese imports worth about $50 billion. In addition, the US is looking to restrict China’s investment in the country. In response, China imposed retaliatory measures against the US. In July 2018, the US imposed further tariffs on Chinese goods of approximately $34 billion. In retaliation, China introduced tariffs on more than five hundred American products.
President Trump has argued that China is exploiting the US by taking advantage of free trade rules (Denoon 83). The US has also threatened to list China as a nation that manipulates its currency (Mingjiang and Kemburi 48). Economic cooperation has served as a uniting factor between the two largest economies in the world. However, the ongoing trade wars are serving as a source of strategic distrust and economic animosity that could have serious security implications.
China is likely to continue implementing retaliatory tariffs because they view the US tariffs as a way of stifling their world-domination agenda. The US views China as a threat to its foreign policy. The US feels threatened by Chinas technological, military, and economic progress because it poses several national security challenges (Mingjiang and Kemburi 56). The wars are expected to continue as both countries seek to advance their agenda. In that regard, tensions will heighten, and China will become an adversary that will fight against economic and political suppression by the United States.
In order for the US to deal effectively with China’s political and economic aggressiveness, it is necessary to implement policies that counter China’s military expansion include the strengthening of military capabilities and the enhancement of technological innovation, encourage the formation of stronger alliances and security partnerships, advocate for the implementation of a proactive agenda in the East Asian region, and that leverage China’s desire for economic growth in order to discourage its involvement in the mitigation of global challenges (Kim). China will become a foe because any attempts by the US to suppress its global expansion will be countered with economic and military aggression.
The US-China relations are worsening as both countries enforce tariffs that are retaliatory in nature. The US accuses China of stealing its intellectual property and technology while China accuses the US of trying to stop its global expansion agenda. In the next decade, China will become a foe because it continues to advance its predatory trade practices against the US, steal its intellectual property, and challenge its global economic and military supremacy.
The tariffs imposed by the US are aimed at terminating China’s predatory trade practices that have serious security and economic implications. It is highly unlikely that either of the two countries will loosen their stand in order to end the standoff and avert a possible financial or political crisis. It is important for the US to implement policies that will hamper China from targeting its technology through investments, and that will slow down China’s investment in developing economies.
Denoon, David BH, editor. China, the United States, and the Future of Latin America. New York University Press, 2017.
Kim, Patricia M. “Understanding China’s Military Expansion and Implications for U.S. Policy.” Council on Foreign Relations, 2008. Web.
Mingjiang, Li and Kalyan Kemburi, editors. New Dynamics in US-China Relations: Contending for the Asia Pacific. Routledge, 2015.
Smith, Noah. (2018). Trump is Right: China Should Stop Stealing the US’s Best Ideas. Bloomberg. 2018. Web.
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Tan, Andrew, editor. Handbook of US-China Relations. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.