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  • Rohan

The US and China - What is going on?

The US political climate is divided on a scale never seen before. Issues previously viewed as apolitical, such as a woman’s right to choose, have become fair play in heated congressional debates. It seems Democrats and Republicans couldn’t even agree on a favourite ice cream flavour. But, on the issue of China, this division is non-existent – the US has adopted a bipartisan stance when it comes to being tough on China. But what does this mean for all of us?

Let’s first consider how universal this ‘conflict’ between America and China has become. Socially, there is division over the Chinese genocide of Uyghur Muslims. Economically, the US has maintained an economic approach that involves the banning of some American investment in China. Earlier this year, a spy balloon (or weather balloon, depending on who you ask) went soaring over America, suspected of taking photos of military bases.

The US and China are teetering on the edge of a cliff that stares down into a never-ending hole of political turmoil. Especially at a time when cooperation on issues such as climate change is pivotal, it cannot be a good thing that these two superpowers cannot get along. And, of course, there is no denying that one wrong move could be a turning point. Does the US get too involved in Taiwan? Or does China side with Russia more explicitly in their invasion of Ukraine? There are many ways one could see this going wrong and on so many distinct levels. But enough pessimism – here is why I do not think these Sino-American tensions are the start of a new Cold War.

Statistics could point to this being a history-changing event, the US and China account for over 40% of the global GDP, over 50% of global military spending, and are both members of the Security Council P5. This, alongside their systemic political differences, could point to a cold war-like conflict between the two. But, when it comes to the wickedness of political problems, statistics cannot get you too far. Instead, I think we ought to look at precedent: remember when a US strike killed Iranian General Soleimani, and we thought it was WW3? Or perhaps we should cast our minds back to the time a Russian missile was though to have hit Poland, which could bring NATO into the Ukraine war. Even think about the War on Terror, and how Russia’s endorsement of Assad’s government saw American forces being hit by technology from Moscow.

I don’t mean to suggest these weren’t all problems, but I do think this proves something incredibly important: it doesn’t always end disastrously. The reality is that a war between the US and China is in no-one’s interest, and even a second Cold War could be destructive for both countries. What’s more – both the Chinese and American governments know this and realise that there’s a reason the world is so different with the advent of nuclear technology. So, with the American presidential election looming, I doubt this debate is going away any time soon. But does it devolve into a nuclear apocalypse? Not a chance.

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