The United States’ weak diplomacy with China has allowed the latter to become increasingly aggressive with its expansionist policies in Asia and for China to arm Russia in the invasion of Ukraine. The lack of a coherent diplomatic strategy towards China has encouraged the growth of Chinese economic and military power, which has emboldened Beijing to assert itself more forcefully in regional and global affairs.
One key aspect of China’s aggressive stance towards its neighbors is its military buildup, particularly in the South China Sea region. The Chinese government has sought to assert its sovereignty over this strategic waterway, which is claimed in part by several other countries. China has constructed artificial islands and militarized them, prompting concerns among the US and other regional powers about its intentions. The US response to China’s militarization of the region has been half-hearted at best, with the Biden administration taking a largely conciliatory approach.
Another area of concern in US-China relations is economic policy. China has long engaged in economic practices such as currency manipulation and intellectual property theft that put US companies and their workers at a disadvantage. In response, the US has levied tariffs on Chinese goods and taken other measures, but these have been largely ineffective in addressing the structural issues in the US-China economic relationship. Meanwhile, China has sought to expand its economic influence abroad by investing in infrastructure projects in developing countries and forging trade deals with other countries in Asia and beyond.
China’s growing influence has also allowed it to play a role in various international conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. China has supported Russia in its intervention in Syria and weakness on the part of the United States has allowed China to arm Russia in support of the invasion of Ukraine. In both cases, China’s involvement has posed challenges for the US, which has struggled to find a clear strategy for dealing with these conflicts.
To address these challenges, the US needs to develop a more robust, coordinated approach to diplomacy with China. This should include a clear strategy for addressing China’s military expansion and economic practices, as well as a focus on building stronger relationships with US allies in the region. The US should also seek to engage China more constructively on issues of shared concern, such as climate change and global health. By doing so, the US can help ensure that China’s rise does not come at the expense of regional stability or US national interests.