Balloon explosion puts an end to surge in US-China tensions

Washington – Monday was supposed to be a day of modest hope for U.S.-China relations. I was going to make a hard effort to mitigate.

Instead, Blinken was spending the day in Washington afterwards suddenly cancel his visit last week US and China exchange angry words A Chinese spy balloon suspected of being shot down by the United States. Relations between the United States and China, which had been strained prior to Mr. Blinken’s visit to the United States, have now deteriorated further and are unlikely to improve any time soon.

Despite both sides claiming to manage the situation calmly, mutual accusations, especially since the shooting down of a balloon that sparked harsh Chinese protests on Saturday, do not bode well for reconciliation.

This setback came at a time when both sides were looking for a way to potentially get out of the low point in their relationship where the world was at stake.

White House National Security Press Secretary John Kirby said Monday that Blinken’s trip was postponed, not canceled.

Danny Russell, a China expert and former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in the Obama administration, said of the damage to current diplomatic efforts between the two countries, “I would rate this a 6 out of 10. evaluate,” he said. .

“The signs I’ve seen suggest that a pause and a line must be drawn underneath the incident, but there is every intent by the Secretary of State to redesign travel once the drama goes through its final act. Russell, currently vice president for international security and foreign affairs at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said:

Russell said the administration would “start with a severe deficit.” “It’s a setback, but it’s not impossible to recover. Without improper management, this is recoverable.”

Mr. Blinken and Chinese officials will attend at least two international conferences. The Munich Security Conference in mid-February and his G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in India in early March.

However, it may be difficult to recreate the opportunities lost by the ballooning incident.

It’s not that the US and China aren’t talking. They speak from a wide variety of perspectives and have little room to back down from established positions that are often directly related to domestic political situations.

Military-to-military routes are being used, but they have been hampered by China’s increasing incursions into Taiwan’s air defense areas and aggressive actions in the South China Sea. Enhanced flight and sailing of warships.

Diplomatic channels remain open, but for several years have been dominated by disagreements rather than grounds for potential cooperation.

President Joe Biden and President Xi agreed to Mr. Blinken’s visit during a meeting in Indonesia in November. Biden wanted his top diplomat to return from China after making some progress on issues ranging from trade, Indo-Pacific security and climate change to human rights and Taiwan’s status. It may be. Instead, he is now facing domestic political pandemonium just before his State of the Union address in Congress on Tuesday.

Republican lawmakers have harshly criticized what they say is a weak reaction by Biden to the presence of balloons over the United States. likely to be accompanied by

Meanwhile, in Beijing, after an initially relatively conciliatory reaction to the balloon, Chinese leaders adopted a tougher stance in response to a nationalist public reaction. After apologizing for the balloon, which it said was a weather probe that strayed into its airspace, China has now denounced the down as an unacceptable violation of international law and standards that set back the possibility of dialogue.

“Blinken’s visit to China provided a way to stabilize US-China relations,” said Da Wei, director of the Center for International Security Strategy at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University. The postponement has “reduced a lot” the window for that, he said.

Aside from both political implications, development has many manageable economic, political and military confrontation.

Tensions between the United States and China, particularly over Taiwan, are a source of deep concern for Washington and many of its allies. They worry that open conflict will hurt the global economy, and last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine exacerbated their fears.

At the same time, China and the United States are heading for clashes on other issues, such as China’s growing aggression in the South and East China Seas, which has strained U.S. allies such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand. Not to mention Australia and New Zealand.

China’s continued crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong; human rights record in predominantly Muslim western regions of Xinjiang; harassment and imprisonment of Christians and other religious minorities elsewhere; ongoing against Tibetan leaders All of these campaigns have been significant stimuli in relationships.

Over the past five years, Sino-US relations have entered a new and worsening phase of confrontation, confrontation and competition, Da said, calling the current period a “new kind of cold war.”

“This is very different from the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, but if we define the Cold War as the two largest nations in the world embroiled in intense confrontation and conflict in ways that do not involve military force or war… We are rapidly moving in that direction,” said Da.

___ Contributed by Caroline Chen, AP News Assistant in Beijing.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. Balloon explosion puts an end to surge in US-China tensions

Exit mobile version