Washington | This now looks like a new cold War. The tensions between China and the United States are worsening by the day, but the confrontation generalized between the two great powers had been brewing for a long time and is known to last well beyond the us presidential election.
“It is difficult to predict the extent to which the relations will deteriorate,” says Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin university of China, who thinks that the two rivals have “started to enter in a new cold War”.
In recent weeks, a cycle of sanctions, retaliation and counter-retaliation has powered the news at a frantic pace.
And the files in question illustrate the extent of the iron arm: the future of Hong Kong the role of the equipment supplier Huawei in the mobile internet 5G, passing through Tibet, the south China sea or even the muslim uyghurs.
China should, therefore, occupy a good place in the campaign for the presidential election of 3 November between the outgoing Donald Trump, who presents her democratic opponent Joe Biden as weak in the face of Beijing, and the latter that rivals firmness.
It was in fact already the case four years ago: billionaire republican has been elected, among other things, on the promise to correct the huge trade deficit with the asian giant.
But if he used a tone martial arts for most of his first term, it was in the context of a war strictly business finally punctuated by a first agreement.
For the rest, the ex-businessman was inexhaustible praise for his counterpart Xi Jinping.
According to his former adviser, John Bolton, Donald Trump wanted to get to Beijing a boost election in the form of increased purchases of agricultural products to satisfy its rural base.
The pandemic caused by a coronavirus detected for the first time in the chinese city of Wuhan the end of 2019 has finally been symptomatic of a crisis are much more profound.
After warmly “thanked” Xi Jinping at the end of January for its “efforts” to “contain” the virus, the 45th president of the United States has changed radically in speech, accusing now the China to be responsible for the health crisis, and global economic.
It has actually embrace the strategy of direct confrontation to all-round scope by its secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard university, the first two economic powers of the world are engaged in a “competitive, secure long-term investments, exacerbated by strategic visions are incompatible”.
“This is similar in some aspects to the cold War”, he told AFP, while considering that the current rivalry was “still not as dangerous as the one between the United States and the soviet Union in the Twentieth century.
If the rivalry existed before the era Trump, “the root cause of the deterioration is to be sought in the international ambitions of growing the China, and in particular to its desire to dominate Asia,” he adds.
Seventy years after its birth, the communist China says more than ever, and without complex, its status as a great power antagonistic to the United States. While in Washington, the political class has made the grieving of the hope former see globalization “normalize” the power of Beijing, bringing democracy and freedom at the same time as economic prosperity.
“Blitzkrieg ” economic”
Mike Pompeo himself, who was challenging again in 2018 all references to the cold War, no longer reject this comparison.
It underlines, of course, the us and chinese economies are much more “deeply nested” than were those of the soviet Union and the United States, but to defend the need for the western countries to regain their sovereignty, industrial and technological, in order not to be dependent on Beijing.
Spinning metaphor military, the american minister of Justice Bill Barr has warned the giants of Hollywood and the Silicon Valley, which is too close to his liking, against a “blitzkrieg economy” led by China to “overtake the United States as a first world superpower”.
To recreate the spirit block against block, the administration, Trump would like to enlist in its ranks the european Union, considered too timid. And calls for that the defence of “freedom” against “tyranny”.
This vision of China as an “ideological threat” is flawed, argues Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at think tank the American Enterprise Institute.
She therefore prefers not to speak of a “new cold War”, because this leads it to adopt ‘strategic responses ineffective”.
For all that, “there is a real possibility of +hot war+ between the two camps, to levels that have never been reached with the soviet Union,” she says. “The United States react to the decline of their own power by increasing the pressure, what that make Beijing”, which, in turn, without understanding “the springs of american politics”, refusing for example to remove its weapons in the south China sea.
However, “the refusal of China to reassure the United States could lead us to war”, she said to AFP.