U.S. approach lays emphasis on excluding Beijing: Expert
The United States policies toward China are "imbalanced "and "exclusionary", which are not conducive to a positive, constructive relationship with China, says an expert on U.S.-China relations.
"Political actors in the United States increasingly define everything about China as a national security concern," said Jake Werner, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute, a think tank that promotes diplomatic engagement and cooperation between the U.S. and other countries.
"The further that trajectory goes, the harder it is to turn back," he warned at a recent webinar examining the relationship between the two countries. His research focuses on the emergence of great-power conflict between the U.S. and China and policies to rebuild constructive economic relations.
The U.S. approach is "too imbalanced toward deterrence and exclusion of China, and that is sending China a very clear message that the U.S. sees no future for China in the system the U.S. wants to create globally", Werner said.
Such policies lead to aggression from China, and may escalate to conflict, he said.
"Every antagonistic move against China is being called competition that is really misleading," he said. "Exclusion is the opposite of competition."
For instance, the U.S. government's blockade on semiconductors is not "competition", he said.
"In global economy, the (Joe) Biden administration has imposed a blockade on one of the most essential technologies for any form of economic growth in the future semiconductors. Advanced semiconductors are no longer permitted," he said.
It is "a terribly provocative move" for the U.S., in the name of national security, to "decide that China must be permanently subordinated in its possibilities for growth in the global economy and to compete in the global economy", Werner said.
"It sends a very clear signal that the United States will not tolerate Chinese success," he said. "China, I think, could accept a competitive framework but cannot accept an exclusionary framework," he added.
On the Taiwan question, he said there has been "a deep erosion of the one-China policy".
The underlying issue behind the conflict is the political elites' failure to recognize that the previous structure of the global system has largely broken down over the past 15 years, he said.
"They've been struggling for the last 15 years to figure out how to deal with the loss of legitimacy in the political system and loss of dynamism in the economy," he said.
These issues can be worked through, and the relationship between the two countries is not as aggressive as what the anti-China rhetoric describes, said Werner, adding that the two countries could come together around a set of policies that would increase global growth.
"We could find a pathway toward a constructive relationship by working together on overcoming the forces that are pushing the two countries against each other," he said.
"The two sides do not want conflict and are willing to take real steps away from conflict. They are not throwing themselves against the other and they're not trying to execute an unconditional defeat of the other side," said Werner.
"They are willing to, under the right circumstances, work together to execute common interests."
He said the U.S. and China have "a very strong interest in overcoming the zero-sum pressures", which he referred to the sense that the U.S. and China cannot both succeed in the global economy.
"If they work together toward overcoming them, they could change the forces that are pushing them into conflict today," he said.