>China and the US: How far is it going to go?

>Causes of conflict:

  • China’s sudden growth, especially as it isn’t matching expectations in terms of actual improvements for many, has encouraged a sense of ‘aggrieved nationalism’. People feel angry about the lost century where China was weak and exploited by the West. But they also feel confident due to a sense of ‘positive nationalism’.
  • The US is angry about China’s denial of Tibetan freedoms.
  • The US is determined to protect Taiwan as Chinese control would most likely limit US influence in the region.
  • China and the US differ in many ideological respects. For example the US feels it is necessary to take a strong precense in the world, and be tough on rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. China on the other hand divorces economics from politics, with the view that economic sanctions will only harm the people.
  • In 2001 a US spy plane was forced to land in China after colliding with a Chinese fighter.
  • In March 2009 disagreements over access rights in the waters around China came close to causing conflict.
  • China’s navy has been growing more active in its territorial waters.
  • China is upgrading its military and space capability, and Washington has said Beijing should be more open about its defence spending and strategic intentions.
  • Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan anger China.
  • The US complains that China is maintaining a deliberately weak currency to attract trade, and should therefore revalue it.
  • China is the largest foreign holder of US treasuries.
  • After publicly promising to advocate free trade and no protectionism despite the current crisis, the US introduced duties on tyres.
  • U.S. firms investing in China complain about intellectual property theft, murky regulations, corruption and unfair advantages enjoyed by domestic rivals.
  • China complains about investment barriers on the U.S. side, citing resource investments blocked on national security grounds.
  • Google was the victim of several cyber attacks, which sought to find out names and emails addresses of likely reformers (such as those that signed Charter 08; on the Politics page).
  • The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, makes frequent visits to the United States despite Chinese objections.
  • etc etc I could go on.

Many people in the west are calling out for governments to put pressure on China to reform, particularly in the sphere of human rights and currency issues.

But are these people right that the West should attempt to ‘manage’ China while it still has the chance? Or should we be more cautious? And what do you think will happen? Will tensions escalate?


  • >There are undeniably causes for tensions both within and between the two countries. Many of those causes are not going to go away any time soon.I think one of the major underlying causes (to pick just one interesting one) is ideological, though I do not mean between Communism and Capitalism for in reality neither one of these states completely subscribes to either view. Western culture is built upon Liberal, Descartes-Scientific logic that everything should be doubted and second guessed, particularly if it is not fully understood. This creates suspicion and fear of China's motives. China's view of the world is far different, stemming as it does from a mixture of ancient Chinese, Western Liberal and Soviet Marxist thought. However it is also quite realist and suspicous.This is combined with Western view of itself that could almost be called arrogant. The West as a collective has held global power for hundreds of years, and since the end of the Cold War America has seen itself as the unchallenged monolith in the world, just as Rome saw itself after the defeat of Carthage. This view was highlighted and spread throughout the culture by works such as Francis Fukuyama's 'The End of History', which effectively said that the US had it right and everyone else would have to copy. Hence circumstances in which a more populous country is growing at a frightening and unreachable speed, while the US is suffering its worst recession since the Great Depression, creates fear. A combination of fear, suspicion and greed for power (China to gain power, the EU to exert its power more, and the US to retain its power) can be a very dangerous mix.Fortunately, Barrack Obama and Hu Jintao seem unlikely leaders to lead us into a new Cold War. Growing globalisation could even limit the suspicion and unfound fears after the economic recovery. But even if this is so the two sides need to radically change their views and opinions if conflict is to be avoided indefinitely and for certain. Both countries need to foster their belief in equality; China must view its own people more equally, while the US must start viewing the world more equally. Both countries need to avoid estrangement from each other and act to foster transparency, especially where the other is concerned. In China this is simply a step towards state reform (not that I'm saying this will be easy). But the American problem is slightly more difficult for American businesses act as ambassadors and representatives in the world. America needs to ensure the decisions made by these companies are kept under tabs and still very transparent. In fact was this to be done then the two sides would find they actually have a lot to learn from one another that they are failing to do at present.

  • >To pick up one point, as I understand it; For years, Americans have been fulminating about China and its policy toward currency. While many of the debates are technical and laden with econo-speak, they boil down to the simple conviction that China is unfairly manipulating its currency to keep it undervalued against the dollar. The result is to give China unfair advantages in trade – flooding the US with cheap goods, hurting labor wages world-wide, and accumulating massive surpluses in the process.But why can't China do whatever the hell it wants with its money – In my opinion any country that forces people to reproduce more responsibly (well no – the people still arnt being responsible because they are being forced to, anyway)can do whatever it wants. America is only complaining because its losing out – Its like Afghanistan asking America to get rid of a few of its nukes to even the playing feild – or ami missing something?

  • >Furthermore mr speaker, i'd to move for a discussion entitled "Is the right to parenthood absolute" or as I like to say "why do parents have to have their own children"

  • >In a way Chinese currency actions are irresponsible. Currency manipulation that makes exports cheaper also makes imports more expensive. Thus although China is helping its exporters it's hurting its importers. Plus, there is a widespread belief that China's currency is valued incorrectly and will need to be revalued at some point in the near future. Some economists argue that by putting this revaluation off China is risking increasing the potency of speculative attacks. Hence when the currency is revalued, the argument goes that investors around the world will take it as a sign of weakness, or even a sign that China's economy has overheated and is about to face depression. Such expectations could lead to a huge withdrawal of funds and investment.But the argument runs both ways; there are many arguments in favour of the Chinese course of action. And you're right that China has a right to do this within the given system. What's more it's ironic because the right stems from the ideas of Capitalism and the Free Market.P.S. Could you email me the new debates in future, rather than putting them on an existing debate? Thanks

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