ST Asian Insider video: Gloves off in US-China relations, say analysts

WASHINGTON - As China-US relations plunge, the next three to four months are particularly worrisome, US-based China analysts say.

"I don't anticipate that we will see stability," Ms Bonnie Glaser, Senior Adviser for Asia and Director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told The Straits Times Asian Insider weekly video and podcast, hosted by this writer.

"We still have several months before the presidential election in early November and I think the Donald Trump administration is likely to take more actions against China," she said.

Her remarks come amid increasing tensions between US and China, which escalated significantly this month (July) with both countries ordering a shutdown of one of their representative offices in each other's country.

"The President himself is no longer concerned, it seems, about harming his relationship with (China's President) Xi Jinping or undermining trade negotiations, so he has really taken the gloves off."

"In addition, there is an election factor at play," Ms Glaser said.

"American attitudes have turned sharply negative against China and therefore I think the Trump campaign strategists think it's a good way to win votes, by really bashing China and taking actions against Beijing," she remarked.

"And there's another factor that's even more worrisome, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other US officials... really want to ensure that the focus of geopolitical, systemic competition between the US and China survives this administration if it loses and (former) vice president Joe Biden wins; they want to ensure that there is a permanent downturn in the US-China relationship that can't be easily reversed."

 
 

Speaking alongside Ms Glaser, Ms Yun Sun, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Programme, and Director of the China Programme, at the Stimson Center, said "The Chinese are genuinely seeing this as not a temporary event."

China sees this bipartisan consensus in Washington as surviving, and this has raised anxiety in China, even as Beijing does not acknowledge any responsibility in terms of its own behaviour, Ms Yun Sun said.