lørdag 18. juli 2020

China’s tactical retreat too little, too late; From India to US, global hardening of posture evident, Xi Jinping may pay for overreach

Last week we witnessed what seemed like a tactical retreat from China. During a video conference Wednesday on Sino-US relations co-organised by a Chinese and an American think tank, China’s vice foreign minister Le Yucheng extended an olive branch towards the US, calling for dialogue and cooperation, warned against economic decoupling, cited past history of close engagement and urged both nations to “accommodate each other’s core interests and concerns.”

A day later, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, at another video conference, read from the same script. Setting aside the familiar ‘wolf warrior’ rhetoric, a conciliatory Wang repeated the call for a dialogue “putting all issues on table”. He admitted that bilateral relation is “facing the most severe challenge since establishment of diplomatic ties”, urged the US to set aside its “paranoia” and “suspicion” about China and sort issues of cooperation and competition into separate boxes so that overall ties remain stable.

Coordinated messaging from China’s top two diplomats in the space of a day isn’t a coincidence, rather an attempt to pare down the temperature and stop the ball rolling towards an all-out confrontation. It is obvious that China is worried about the trajectory of Sino-US relationship. Beijing wants to lessen the degree of hostility and increase engagement with Washington.