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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs