THE U.S. NEEDS STRATEGIC THINKING IN RELATIONS WITH CHINA

upa-admin 20 Mart 2021 3.086 Okunma 0
THE U.S. NEEDS STRATEGIC THINKING IN RELATIONS WITH CHINA

Although domestic policy issues are more important these days in the United States due to Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis, Joe Biden administration’s foreign policy also has begun to be shaped recently. President Biden announced “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance[1] in early March in order to declare his foreign policy vision, namely the “Biden Doctrine”. This paper focuses on Washington’s strategic ties with democratic nations and condemns the rise of authoritarian/totalitarian states like China and Russia in recent years. It also underlines that Biden administration will try to isolate authoritarian/totalitarian regimes around the world and will prioritize alliances and close cooperation with democratic states in addition to NATO members and Washington’s traditional allies. The paper also focuses on diplomatic methods rather than warfare in order to establish Washington’s global leadership and reach stated goals. This strategy seems in perfect harmony with the 46th U.S. President Joe Biden’s liberal democratic stance in domestic policy. However, considering the fact that we are living in the age of a global pandemic (Covid-19), I do think that Washington needs more strategic thinking in relations with China rather than demonizing Beijing. In this piece, I am going to elaborate on this idea.

There is no doubt that People’s Republic of China is a one-party (Chinese Communist Party-CCP) state and has an authoritarian -if not totalitarian- political system. Chinese treatment of Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority living the East Turkestan/Xinjiang region, is frequently criticized in the Western press and is even resembled to “genocide”.[2] It is very helpful that the U.S. and other democracies are critical of human right abuses in China or elsewhere. However, Washington should continue to act in a strategic and responsible manner in relations with China since Beijing could become a key partner for Washington and for the rest of the world in the struggle against Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in the months to come. China is one of the few countries in the world that was able to develop a satisfactory vaccine against Covid-19. Called as the “Sinovac” vaccine, Chinese medicament is 83.5 % effective and quite successful against the Covid-19 virus according to statistics announced by Turkish authorities.[3] Many countries including Turkey[4] have been importing Chinese vaccine in order to save their people from the pandemic, primarily their elderly citizens. Sinovac vaccine is one of the many key issues where China is very successful due to its highly developed technology and high r&d investments. So, although it is very normal for the U.S. to perceive China as a competitor due to Chinese rise in recent years, I think this should not turn into a U.S.-China rivalry since billions of people on earth need American-Chinese cooperation for the vaccination. Especially for poor countries, the vaccination could be carried out only with rich countries’ support and help. So, alongside with the United Nations (UN), and the U.S., China could assume important roles and could become a key actor in the next months and years in order to supply the Covid-19 vaccine to developing and underdeveloped countries. At this point, Americans should realize that the Covid-19 is extremely contagious and the world will not be a safe place unless all nations successfully conduct their vaccination process. In other words, a successful vaccination campaign in the U.S. will not be enough to terminate the pandemic. That is why, U.S.-China cooperation will be absolutely necessary and crucially important for providing the global stability in the next few months and years to come. Moreover, I think this is also in favor of the U.S. since Washington is still the only country that has the potential to establish global leadership with its democratic model, developed economy with giant companies, strong institutions, and cultural attractiveness. It should not be forgotten that, restrictions and limitations on trade with China could negatively affect the Chinese economy, which would eventually lead to problems in the developing world (especially in African states) that are dependent of Chinese investments and help.

Providing global stability requires a global outlook. Biden administration -contrary to previous Donald Trump administration- wants the U.S. to return back to the international system and assume leadership position in all international organizations. However, in order to do that, Washington has to learn working with other influential states -including the non-democratic regimes- at least on global issues including the Covid-19 and other pandemics, climate change, struggle against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, North Korea, global trade etc. So, instead of following Trump’s nationalist rhetoric and path, Biden administration could develop a more strategic China policy in the time of global health crisis. This would be more helpful to U.S., China, and the rest of the world if these two giant countries (G2) will develop ways to cooperate on critical issues. In addition, Chinese Belt and Road initiative could also be perceived as a positive development for American and European firms and investors to reach Asian markets rather than an imperialist initiative devised by Beijing. Chinese history proves that this country has its unique political and sociocultural features and prefers to be left alone rather than controlling other states. So, President Biden could take inspiration from former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who did not refuse Soviet help for defeating Nazis in order to constitute his China policy. China is not a hegemonic power and will not look for ways to reach this status, but the world needs Chinese integration and cooperation especially in times of crisis. So, Biden and his foreign policy team (primarily the new U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken) should try to direct China to contribute more on global issues instead of externalizing it. American decision-makers should not forget that, the history will not forgive if Americans do not cooperate with other countries in times of a global health crisis and this leads to disastrous outcomes.

Assoc. Prof. Ozan ÖRMECİ

 

 

[1] To read the whole document, see; https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NSC-1v2.pdf.

[2] I think Chinese treatment of Uighurs is against human rights but “genocide” claims are false and exaggerated. See; https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/09/asia/china-uyghurs-xinjiang-genocide-report-intl-hnk/index.html.

[3] https://www.dw.com/tr/sinovac-a%C5%9F%C4%B1s%C4%B1n%C4%B1n-etkilili%C4%9Fi-y%C3%BCzde-835/a-56756062#:~:text=Hacettepe%20%C3%9Cniversitesi%20taraf%C4%B1ndan%20y%C3%BCr%C3%BCt%C3%BClen%20%C3%A7al%C4%B1%C5%9Fman%C4%B1n,ise%20y%C3%BCzde%20100%20olarak%20belirlendi..

[4] https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/covid-asisi-turkiye-mevcut-hizla-devam-ederse-asilamayi-ne-zaman-tamamlayabilir-1821544.

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