Is China making any effort at all to try to ameliorate the deteriorating relationship between their country and ours? It seems to get worse by the day even as there had been hope in the business community that things would get less tense and the Chinese economy is booming - witness the 18% economic growth announced just last night.
It would have been easy for the Chinese to walk back any of the charges that former Vice President Mike Pence leveled at Hudson Institute in October of 2018. Pence used that appearance to lay out a new cold war strategy not unlike the one our nation used to combat the old Soviet Union after World War II.
In that speech, the strongest ever by an official against China, the vice president accused China of everything from meddling in state and local elections in our country to torturing and imprisoning one million Muslims, while cracking down on Buddhists causing 150 monks to set themselves on fire.
Like the Soviets, China, Pence said, has been coopting nations around the globe, putting whole countries in their sphere of influence, including in our hemisphere, like Venezuela, a country that is $50 billion in hock to the Chinese. The Chinese Belt & Road initiative has reached pretty much every country that needs investment to resurrect their economies.
Nowhere has the tension been worse than in Taiwan where our country has walked a tightrope defending that democracy from the autocracy that wants to seize a country that it believes it owns anyway.
Taiwan's always been on the table as a Chinese imperative but it's always been sotte voce. It's blaring with 25 fighter planes crashing through Taiwan's airspace just the other day.
Many observers of the new administration thought it would renounce our cold water strategy as outlined by Pence and executed by Peter Navarro, who endlessly accused the Chinese of stealing anything and everything from our country, from jobs to secrets to opportunities for our companies to be equal to what we allow their companies to do, including listing stocks, mostly horribly performing stocks on our country's stock exchange.
Instead President Biden has stepped up calls for what the Chinese hate most, a reforming not of business but of efforts by the Chinese to stifle democracy. The Chinese seem to be able to handle tariffs and demands by a president that American companies move out of China, than they can handle calls for religious freedom.
That stance plus President Xi's belief that our country is sunsetting while theirs is passing ours, has caused the cold war between our countries to increase. Tensions seem like those that existed before President Nixon and Henry Kissinger started Ping Pong diplomacy a half century ago. Everything seems to be a weapon, even orders by Chinese auto companies to take as many semiconductors from Taiwan factories that they can helping to cause the shortage in our country that is shutting down so many industries.
China is so important to many of our country's hopes to expand, whether it be planes sold by Boeing (BA) , planes that the Chinese need, to sneakers and cellphones produced by Nike (NKE) and Apple (AAPL) , respectively. Everything seems in the balance though.
I see no path to improve relations and many to make things even hotter. You would think there would be some sort of olive branch by the Chinese for fear that the U.S. would not try to wrangle Europe into a coalition to stand up to the PRC. But that would mean the Europeans would lose their biggest buyer of product, up to 25%, and the Chinese are gambling that we are not strong enough to contain the European mercantile interest. I think they are right. The Europeans seem to care more about business than democracy.
Right now we are not on a collision course; we are past that. The question is will the Chinese take a run at Taiwan and demand that it be ceded or it will resort to force. We don't know yet but I think it has now become the biggest foreign policy worry facing our country with repercussions that would be incredibly dangerous for western business and hegemony.