News / Asia

Politics Complicate China-US Relations

The complex relationship between China and the United States will be tested this year, as both countries face leadership change, or potential leadership change. The first major challenge to the relationship, though, may come from possible leadership change resulting from presidential elections in Taiwan on Saturday.

Taiwan has been separately governed since Nationalist forces fled there in 1949, after losing the country’s civil war. China still considers the island its territory has threatened to use force to regain control if Taiwan declares independence. The United States has said it will help the island defend itself from an attack.

U.S. and China are seeking to minimize any uncertainty that may result from the Taiwanese election said Alexander Huang, a professor of strategy at Taiwan's Tamkang University.

"Both China and the United States would like to see the continuity of stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait, because both China and the United States will have a very busy political agenda this year," noted Huang. "So, I think that they wanted to see that the Taiwan election plays no negative impact on their own domestic political agenda.”

The Chinese government has refrained from making public comments about this round of Taiwanese elections, which is in sharp contrast to 1996. Tensions were heightened ahead of the polls then because China held military exercises around the island and then-President Bill Clinton sent two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups to the area.

In 2012, political considerations are taking center stage - both in China and in the United States.

The top Chinese leaders - including President Hu Jintao, National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao - are all expected to retire following a Communist Party Congress later this year.

At roughly the same time, in the United States, Americans will be voting for their leader. President Barack Obama could be re-elected or a candidate from the opposition Republican Party could be elected to replace him.

At the Pentagon earlier this month, Obama said his administration will focus on Asia, as one of its main military strategic priorities. “We will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region,” he said.

Even as U.S. military presence shrinks from other parts of the world, the Pentagon report says Washington plans to maintain large bases in Japan and South Korea, and deploy American military personnel to Australia.

The U.S. strategy also calls for countering potential attempts by countries like China and Iran to block American capabilities in areas like the South China Sea or the Strait of Hormuz.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin says the Pentagon's charges against China are groundless.

Liu says China’s military modernization is defensive and aimed at maintaining peace and prosperity in the region.

Sino-American tensions were heightened in recent years by what China sees as U.S. meddling in the South China Sea, where Beijing shares overlapping territorial claims with other countries in the region.

During recent visits to two of the claimants, the Philippines and Vietnam, U.S. officials sparked China's displeasure by stating that Washington has “national interests” in the South China Sea.

Hong Kong University visiting public administration professor Alejandro Reyes says he is not surprised China is upset by U.S. deployment in the region.

“If you are sitting in Beijing, the interpretation is “well, is the United States trying to contain China? or to create some kind of coalition of allies in the region that can oppose China?” This is troubling and I see from the Chinese perspective, it's natural. I think that they should be concerned,” Reyes stated.

Qu Xing, an international relations expert at the China Institute for International Studies, which advises the government, questions U.S. intentions and says he feels the United States has neglected the Asia Pacific region, but only in the past few years has once again increased its attention. Therefore, he adds, tensions have increased.

Another area of friction between the two countries involves economic issues, and American political candidates have found that China bashing can win voter support.

Critics say China keeps its currency, the yuan, artificially low to make Chinese products cheaper, which boosts Chinese exports and creates an unfair trade advantage.

Mitt Romney, the leading Republican presidential challenger targets China in his public comments and says he will take immediate action if elected.

“On day one, I will file, or I will, through an executive order, label China as a currency manipulator allowing us to put tariffs on Chinese goods that are coming into our country and killing American jobs in an unfair way,” he said.

Qu disputes the accusations, and points out that although the value of the yuan has gained more than 25% against the dollar in recent years, the U.S. trade deficit with China still grew.

He says he thinks the overall U.S. trade deficit will not change because Americans will still need to buy products from other countries.

Despite their disagreements, China and the United States are continuing high-level exchanges intended to strengthen their relationship. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently met with China's top leaders in Beijing. And Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be named China's top leader later this year, is due to visit the United States in the very near future.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid