Ryan Hass, a prominent expert on China affairs with Brookings Institution in Washington, said in his latest analysis that increasing tensions between U.S. and China is based on structural problems which eventually cause that the US could take to protect its interests in its relationship with China.
The current leaders of the two countries, both Donald J. Trump and Xi Jinping has a tendency to play tough. Yet, Hass defies the case of two leaders as the main reason of the current tension, rather argues for exacerbation of bilateral relations even in the case of Joe Biden to be elected as president of the U.S. in November.
The U.S.-China bilateral relations had ups and downs historically. Nevertheless, Hass also rejected a possible rebalance and argue for the current turn may be irreversible. He presents four major structural changes that brought a worsening relationship.
First, structural problem is the discontent of both countries about the present state of affairs in the region. Previously, both countries had respect to each other in the region and they were avoiding violating a sort of unwritten boundaries of each other. Currently China pursues more influence in the region and the bilateral relations are more confrontational.
China’s increasing emergence to present its own rules as an alternative to the current international order is the second major change in bilateral relations between two. Beijing’s current capabilities is far greater than Soviet Union during Cold War and regarded as more ambitious. The possibility of China challenging the current world order and having the capability to change it as a non-Western state cause worry in the West.
Third, China’s increasing competitiveness in technology disrupted the old complementary relations with the U.S. China is becoming a leading country in the technologies of AI (Artificial Intelligence), cellular networks and robotics leaving the US and other Western technology hubs behind.
Until a near past, the U.S. was the country that brings technology to the table; whereas, China was bringing cheap labor, and this was a deal. The current dynamics creates the tendency in the U.S. to take more strict precautions to scientific interaction in order to prevent technology transfer to China.
Finally, there is also competition between the two countries about the ideology and/or system. China is offering a new type of development that may be regarded in West as an alternative to liberal democracy. Despite China made clear that it does not have an intention to export system to other countries, its practices are setting an example to other countries with authoritarian tendencies.