mandag 3. august 2020

Competing with China? The United States has disarmed itself

The Trump administration's decision to eject China from its Houston consulate on a spying accusation is the latest move in a spate of US policies and actions that target Beijing. In recent weeks, the administration has sanctioned high-level Chinese officials, revoked Hong Kong's special commercial status, and delivered several high-level speeches directed at China — including on Thursday, in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped just short of calling for regime change. 

China, for its part, has retaliated by ordering the US to close its consulate in Chengdu. The timing of this escalation is no coincidence: Trump has claimed to be tough on China for years but, in reality, he has often fawned over President Xi Jinping, praising his leadership through the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Only when the administration failed to contain the virus at home has it pivoted to a hardline stance, calling Covid-19 the "China virus" and seeking to deflect responsibility for its own domestic incompetence by blaming a foreign rival.