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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More