Aug 23, 2020 / 11:24

Major powers' relationships in free fall

The Hanoitimes - The changes in the US policy concerning Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan as well as the US war against several leading Chinese firms like Huawei, TikTok, WeChat are of long-term strategic significance.

The rapidly worsening relations between the US and China would certainly be voted among the highlights of 2020 even though the year has not ended. For the first time since they established their diplomatic relationships in 1979, their ties are in a free fall and have not bottomed out.

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It is the US who activated this free fall first. And China from time to time gives the US pretexts to accelerate this fall, like its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its alliance with the World Health Organization (WHO) against Taiwan, a US ally, its new law on the security in Hong Kong, its expansionist activities in the South China Sea, etc. But it is the US major foreign policy shifts towards China that triggered this downward spiraling deterioration.

The changes in the US policy concerning Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan as well as the US war against several leading Chinese firms like Huawei, TikTok, WeChat are of long-term strategic significance. Because of China's new law on the security in Hong Kong, this territory is no longer a Special Administrative Zone in the eyes of the US. The US sees China's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea and its campaign of intimidation to control them as completely unlawful. And for the first time since 1979, a member of the US government, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, officially visited Taiwan and from there poured heavy criticism on China. As has never been seen before, the United States is waging a true crusade against some of China's leading high-tech companies, making their operations in the US virtually impossible.

US President Donald Trump now needs an unprecedented hard line against China to impress and win over American voters in the upcoming presidential election, which he will try to win at any cost. But it goes beyond that. It is obvious that America's new approach and perception of China reflects the recognition that China has already become too challenging for the United States. It would be too late for the United States to successfully defeat this challenge if it does not actively intensify the game of comprehensive strategic competition with China just now -  to keep the chance to win or never.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are of his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hanoitimes.