The US competition with China

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It was hoped that the growing dispute between the United States and China while Donald Trump occupied the White House would ease somewhat when Joseph Biden, the 46th US president, took the helm. What is different now is that the new administration is proceeding with more planning than it was when Trump was in power. There are several fronts on which the United States is heavily involved. It inspired the concept of the Indo-Pacific “quad” first proposed by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

More attention is being paid to slowing down China’s technological progress by denying it access to American science. And Trump’s approach of using trade as a weapon to align China with the West continues. But there is a big difference. While the USA wanted to go alone under Trump’s “Make America Great Again” MAGA, Biden would like to bring European powers with him. The situation that Washington authorities have to believe has been neatly summed up by Robert E. Lighthizer, the US trade representative in the Trump administration. He commented on the US Innovation Act, which was passed by Congress as a bipartisan measure.

“This legislation is fundamental because winning our competition with China is vital to our future,” he wrote in an article for the New York Times. America “has the largest economy in the world, the best armed forces, and the most robust science and technology ecosystem, but China is using all available tools to overtake us. We must use all the tools of a free democratic system to prevail. ”Legislation calls for $ 200 billion to promote scientific and technological innovation, $ 52 billion to rebuild semiconductor manufacturing capacities and a resilience program the supply chain to bring back to the US the manufacture of personal protective equipment, medicines and other key products needed in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the disease peaked in 2020-21, the United States ran out of a number of critical supplies needed by hospitals and clinics to manage the patient burden. Some of the supplies needed were brought from China. As a senior official in the Trump administration, Lighthizer was a strong advocate of using trade tariffs as a tool to include countries working against American interests. “The idea that tariffs are bad is counterproductive,” he wrote in his NYT article.

“They have been an effective instrument of economic policy since the beginning of the republic. They can offset unfair subsidies from foreign governments and industrial policy; break dependency on foreign suppliers; and increase import beds, encouraging businesses to bring jobs back into the country. To the extent that tariffs could raise consumer prices (which is debatable), it is a small price to pay to build a strong manufacturing base and secure access to critical supplies. ”In other words, Lighthizer argued against the conventional and widely accepted economic doctrine. One approach Washington took under both President Trump and President Biden was to put India into American orbit. This may be the strategy, but it will not be easy to implement.

As the British discovered when they ruled India, it was not easy to work with the local culture. Those among the rulers who wrote about their experiences called it the “babu way of working.” Now that Americans are getting very close to India, they too are discovering that official India is not easy to deal with. A good example of this is the follow-up of the Indian bureaucracy and its political system to sell the old American consulate in Mumbai to Adar Poonawala, the owner of the Serum Institute, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines based in Pune, a city near Mumbai . The building was built in the 1930s by the Maharaja of Wanekar, one of the Indian princes who lost their states after the British left their colony and India gained independence.

The United States signed a $ 110 million contract with Poonawala in 2011 but was unable to complete it. A newspaper report reads: “When Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken came to Washington for confirmation earlier this year, he was confronted with a strange question about a property 8,000 miles away on the Arabian Sea. Lincoln House, a former Maharajah palace and US consulate in Mumbai, was believed to have been sold for $ 110 million six years ago. Since then, the US has been trying to transfer ownership to one of the richest families in India. “

The dispute was “an unnecessary irritant in bilateral relations,” said Senator James Risch in a written question to Foreign Minister Blinken. It is not known whether this issue was raised by the diplomat during his recent visit to New Delhi. During the visit, Blinken promoted the idea of ​​getting the quad operational. This would move India closer to the US, Japan and Australia to curb China’s growing influence in Asia. Giving substance to the idea will not be easy in the highly bureaucratic decision-making process in India.

China did not sit idly when the mood in the United States grew stronger. It had read correctly that public opinion played an important role in shaping public order. She reacted strongly to the way the American media reported on the damage caused by the heavy rains of the last days of July. Comments on several social media sites in China echoed the government’s position that Western press coverage was “false”, “biased”, “defamatory” and “evil”. They claimed that foreign coverage of the flood disaster focused on the damage, not the government and public rescue efforts.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a statement it was “disappointed and dismayed by the growing hostility of foreign media in China, a mood that is underpinned by growing Chinese nationalism, sometimes directly promoted by Chinese officials and officials “. It is clear that Washington policymakers working to curb China’s influence in Asia have not fully considered the aftermath of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. China has acted quickly to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of American troops. Beijing invited a high-level Taliban group to meet China’s high-level leaders in the port city of Tianjin, near Beijing.

The Chinese are working hard to build a network of roads, railways and fiber optic links to connect with the landlocked states of Central Asia, including Afghanistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an important part of this initiative. CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan. It would connect Pakistan not only with the western provinces of China, but also with the resource-rich Central Asian states. Gwadar is on the way to becoming one of the most important ports in Asia. The deepening dispute between China and the United States could have some unintended positive consequences for Pakistan.

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