US-China Cooperation: The Only Way to Stop a New Cold War

America diplomatically boycotting the Beijing Olympics, issuing statements of support for Taiwan’s defense in its defense bill, banning Chinese Xinjiang province’s products, citing forced labor reasons, and putting a halt to Chinese trade indicate a new trend of the upcoming cold war that could hamper the world three decades after the end of the first such war.

China’s relations with the United States are at an all-time low, and it seems they’re only going to get worse. Many around the world fear a new era of the cold war. A Cold War with China would be much more complicated and damaging than the U.S.-Soviet Union struggle of the 20th century as a result of deep economic ties and China’s economic might. In order to avoid such an outcome, both sides must come together. 

In a cold war, drastic decoupling and disengagement would start, which, unfortunately, is taking place right now. The international community would fracture on issues where it should otherwise cooperate widely. It would separate economies, scientists, scholars, and the general public.

There is a chance that it would fuel ethnic stereotyping, prejudice, and hatred. By doing so, two great civilizations would not be able to benefit from each other’s strengths and contributions.

This would lead to an increased arms race, which would crowd out financing of domestic priorities. Above all, even if neither party wants it, it would raise the likelihood of military war.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has already indicated that America and China are going towards a new cold war. So, it could be detrimental to global peace, if it goes unaddressed.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has already indicated that America and China are going towards a new cold war. So, it could be detrimental to global peace, if it goes unaddressed.

US-China Poor Relations is Putting the World at Risk

A warning that the world could be on the brink of another Cold War came from the head of the United Nations, António Guterres. He encouraged China and the US to repair their “completely dysfunctional” relations before the issues spread wider around the world.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Joe Biden also emphasized the necessity of avoiding a Cold War-style clash between the US and China.

Biden spoke about his vision for putting the tumultuous US-China relationship on a more sustainable path. He promised that the US would “compete vigorously,” depending on its values and rejecting any attempts by larger countries to use military, economic, technological, or misinformation weapons to control smaller countries. He stressed, however, that the United States is not seeking a new cold war or rigid blocs in the world. 

China, on the other hand, appears to have rejected America’s idea for a relationship based on equal parts cooperation and rivalry. The issue is that China’s actions do not correspond to Xi’s statements in the United Nations. The Chinese leadership has reacted angrily to the Biden foreign policy team’s repeated outreach efforts by stepping up its military expansion and economic hostility.

China, with its messages through John F. Kerry, gave a clear indication that it won’t even address corporate climate change until America reverses Donald Trump’s administration‘s policy that they find objectionable.

Both Joe Biden and Xi Jinping should assure that America and China are not engaged in any sort of new war as it could undermine peace efforts in the world.
Both Joe Biden and Xi Jinping should assure that America and China are not engaged in any sort of new war as it could undermine peace efforts in the world.

Relationship Building Efforts Must Continue between Superpowers

Due to recent diplomatic failures, Biden approached President Xi again, as the White House believes that only Xi can make the decisions necessary to bring the relationship back on track.

President Biden asked for “common sense guardrails” to keep the relationship from going further lower after a virtual conference with Xi Jinping in November that lasted more than three hours.

The meeting failed to yield any tangible agreements or even a joint statement on topics that influence the relationship, ranging from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and human rights. Despite urgent needs for cooperation on issues like climate change, little agreement was reached between the two countries, underscoring the reality that these problems are mostly intractable.

The main issue for America is that Xi’s activities inside China suggest that consolidating power both internally and outside is more important to him than restoring relations with the United States. 

Xi is undoubtedly collaborating with security agencies to target the US in the technology, education, entertainment, housing, and banking sectors. In that atmosphere, expecting a shift toward collaboration with Washington may be overly optimistic.

The two countries must work together on global issues and address each other’s concerns. The US should be willing to work with a peer competitor, especially one with a different political system and ideology. Also, rather than attempting to undermine the US’s traditional stabilizing position in East Asia, China must accommodate the US.

China needs to adapt and assimilate into a rules-based international order built and historically controlled by the United States. This includes principles related to commerce, rules of law, transparency, privacy, digital freedoms, due process, and the law of the sea.

China must find ways to ensure that its participation in international affairs is consistent while maintaining its own political, economic, and social structure. It is critical that China adheres to these principles or at least does not undermine them.

Despite that, the Biden administration has shown no sign of abandoning human rights in exchange for climate change progress. However, Beijing has already received a number of smaller concessions.

Chinese researchers who were charged with concealing their military ties have had their cases dismissed by the Justice Department.

The tone of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remarks about the Hong Kong protests has mellowed. Biden’s pledges to encourage China to enable a thorough probe into the origins of COVID-19 appear to have been discreetly abandoned.


Final Thoughts

Despite President Joe Biden’s efforts, China continues to pursue hostile policies while finger-pointing and blaming the United States.

In recent years, China’s regime has become much more controlling, manipulative, and recalcitrant, making every issue more difficult to deal with.

Nevertheless, the United States shouldn’t give up on engaging China. Engagement is essential where it is possible without compromising national interests or principles. In spite of this, America must prepare for the worst-case in light of the current situation.

The US and its allies must strengthen their strategic deterrence, lessen their economic and technological reliance on China, and accelerate their own competitive ambitions. The Biden team’s efforts to develop regional alliance partnerships are commendable but insufficient.

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