14 C
New York
Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Buy now


New Challenges in U.S.-China Relations

Tonhere has The animosity between the US and China has eased in recent weeks. Fears of war over Taiwan, while still widespread, have receded since Presidents Biden and Xi met in Bali in November and agreed to resume high-level dialogue on less sensitive areas such as climate change. Their top economic officials had a “candid exchange” in Zurich in January, but agreed to intensify communication. When Antony Blinken traveled to China in early February, the first by a US secretary of state since 2018, both sides appeared eager to build on that momentum.

Hear this story.
Enjoy more audio and podcasts iOS or android.

Your browser does not support

But a new challenge to those efforts is now emerging in the form of a Republican-led congressional committee that will investigate many of the most divisive areas in U.S.-China relations. The House’s newly created special committee on China has no legislative power but can issue subpoenas and hold hearings. On Jan. 10, House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy told lawmakers: “There was a bipartisan consensus that the era of communist China was over, and they voted 365 to 65 shortly after the committee The committee chair, Mike Gallagher, hopes to hold the first hearing “by March at the latest.”

Since the Communist victory in 1949, Congressional concerns about China have come in waves. Afterwards, a vicious debate about “who lost China?” began. That led to an investigation by the defunct Senate Internal Security subcommittee, which sought to blame left-leaning academics and diplomats. It traumatized a generation of China experts and fueled the rise of Joseph McCarthy (no relation to Kevin), the Republican senator who led a persecution of communist sympathizers in the 1950s.

In the late 1990s, two China-related scandals reignited concerns — one involving campaign donations, the other involving the sale of U.S. space technology — followed by President Bill Clinton’s decision in 2000 to grant China “permanent normal trade relation”. That same year, Congress created the Congressional-Executive Committee on China (China Electronic Chamber of Commerce) and us– China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), which is reported annually to the legislature.

The new China commission overlaps with them in some ways but differs in key ways that could cause trouble, notably Xi Jinping’s efforts to reassure Western businesses alarmed by his recent policies and tensions over Taiwan.this China Electronic Chamber of Commerce Examines primarily human rights issues. Although it has subpoena powers, it rarely uses them.this USCC Examine the national security implications of relations with China, but typically hear voluntary testimony from officials and academics.

By contrast, the China Special Commission is designed to conduct high-profile investigations into nearly all aspects of U.S.-China relations. Issues it could address include U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, U.S. pension fund investments in China and Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland, as well as China’s political influence operations in the U.S. and its role in fentanyl production, according to participating Republicans. role.

It also has an articulate and relatively young chairman, Mr. Gallagher, a 38-year-old Republican representative and former naval intelligence officer with a doctorate in international relations from Georgetown University. While President Biden talks about avoiding a new Cold War with China, Mr Gallagher argues that a Cold War is already underway and that the US must speed up legislative and executive action to win. At the same time, he appeared to be mindful of the need to coordinate with other congressional committees and maintain bipartisan support for himself, calling for “serious, sober” people to join.

In total, Republicans appointed 13 committee members. They include a few China hawks, but most are figures who can work in the aisle. Just five people serve on Mr. McCarthy’s 15-member China task force, which was created in 2020 to be bipartisan but lost support from Democrats, in part because of concerns it would over-politicize China . The only Asian American is Michelle Steele of California, who was born in Korea.

The Democrats nominated 11 members, including three Asian-Americans. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the Indian-American member of the intelligence committee, is taking the ranking position. He said he looked forward to working with colleagues from both parties to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s “escalating aggression,” citing its threat to Taiwan and its theft of U.S. intellectual property. But he also urged the committee to refrain from making statements that could fuel hostility toward Asian Americans.

agenda item

It was unclear which issue the committee would address first. But Mr. Gallagher said the immediate priority was to tackle what he said was a backlog of weapons worth $18 billion to $19 billion that had been approved for sale to Taiwan but had yet to be delivered. He has also repeatedly called for the ban or sale of the Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok to U.S. entities.

Xi Jinping will have a hard time accepting all this. One of the biggest risks for him, though, is that he overreacts, throws more red meat at congressional hawks, and ignores the notion that much of what the committee does will be political drama. While Chinese officials have softened their rhetoric in recent weeks, they have been vitriolic toward the two China-focused committees in the past. China imposes sanctions on the US in 2020 China Electronic Chamber of Commerce and its two Republican members.

Some experts who advise the Chinese government now worry that Republicans are trying to hijack China policy and push the two countries deeper into a Cold War-style confrontation. Dong Chunling of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a think tank under China’s Ministry of State Security, said the new committee would act as a “catapult” to undermine any efforts by Biden to cooperate with China. He predicted that as the next U.S. presidential election approaches, the two parties’ China policies are likely to converge, and relations with China may become a victim of U.S. political struggles.

The committee does make it harder for Biden to deal with China. While his administration shows no signs of softening on key issues such as Taiwan or technology trade, it wants to work with China to build “guardrails” to prevent conflict. It also wants to collaborate on areas of global concern, such as reducing methane emissions and preparing for the next pandemic. The committee has no formal power to block such moves. But its hearings will undoubtedly inflame public opinion and limit Biden’s room for maneuver.

This presents another potential problem for the US president. If the committee pushes him to adopt a more confrontational stance toward China, he risks alienating allies — especially in Europe. While many of them share America’s concerns about Xi’s policies, they are also eager to re-engage with China commercially and fear being drawn into a military confrontation in Asia.

However, Republicans also have pitfalls. One is that their committee members are too critical of the Biden administration. Robert Kelner, head of congressional investigations at U.S. law firm Covington & Burling, said congressional committees derive their credibility less from formal power than from media interest if they get caught up in partisan squabbles. , this interest will soon wane. “If the media loses interest in a congressional investigation, the investigation will end,” he said.

Another big risk is that the committee hearings will put pressure on Democrats and other critics who fear it is fueling anti-Asian violence. On Jan. 10, 23 House representatives issued a statement expressing concern about the committee’s direction and warning that “reckless and biased rhetoric and policies” by Donald Trump and congressional Republicans would lead to a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 up 339%.

Mr Gallagher dismissed those concerns, saying his goal was to protect overseas Chinese from the Communist Party. But he did acknowledge the need to proceed with caution, noting recently that Joseph McCarthy is also a former Naval intelligence officer in Wisconsin. “The lesson of Joseph McCarthy is that there is always a risk of going to extremes,” he said. “It is my duty to demonstrate that the committee is a forum for serious, calm, statesmanlike debate.”

Subscribers can sign up to our new weekly newsletter, The Drum Tower, to learn how the world shapes China — and how China shapes the world. For more coverage of Joe Biden’s presidency, visit our dedicated hub and follow us as we track changes in his approval ratings.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles