In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Hossein Malaek said that the new volatile situation in China-US relations is rooted in the fixed elements that have been observed in the relations between the two countries for the past six years. He said the global outbreak of the coronavirus has exposed this issue in a serious manner.
He cited the beginning of the US-China antagonism as a matter of political gravity in the Obama administration, adding: “Although the Chinese never wanted to officially acknowledge that the United States considered them a major threat, the Americans had concluded that in economics, the spread of global influence, military power, and ultimately Chinese technology had made the world tighter for them. China has tried to convince the United States and the world that increasing Chinese power and capabilities does not necessarily mean narrowing the space for the United States.
US Re-evaluating Relations with China
Iran’s former ambassador to Switzerland and China said that considering the US president’s accusations against China about the spread of the corona virus, US secretary of state’s abusive language against China describing the officials of the Chinese Communist Party bloodthirsty in its 70-year history, direct mention of the Chinese president in interviews, submitting bills in the US Congress against China for various reasons, supporting the Taiwan separatists and threatening free trade with Hong Kong, sanctioning China over Xinjiang developments and the support of both parties for this trend, it seems relations between US and China are near a significant turning point. In other words, the United States is re-evaluating its relations with China.
He said the United States seems not to abandon the issue of China’s weakness in reporting on the spread of the coronavirus and will use it as a good excuse to put pressure on the country and would not give up. “The US threat to sanction China and try to get reparations from China should not be taken as propaganda. United States allies too have been supporting this policy, including Germany, which has demanded $160 billion in compensation from China. Even Nigeria has claimed $200 billion in damages, with the Group of Seven countries claiming $4 trillion in damages from China.
Referring to the hardening stance of the Chinese officials towards US threats, the diplomat said reactions by the Chinese officials towards criticisms of the country in the field of diplomacy and expressing positions such as “standing up to the US bullying,” “counteracting US extremism” and ultimately “preparing for military confrontation” in the event of US attack, are new in China’s political literature.
He acknowledged that the commotion was due to the US presidential race, but said the economic situation in the country was worse than expected, adding that more than 93,000 Americans had died from the virus, 26 million jobs have been lost and $9 trillion in damages have been estimated. Therefore, both sides of the conflict will use this situation to their advantage in attacking China.
Referring to the prospects of relations between the two countries in the near future, the diplomat said: “Although Beijing will do its best to bring the process back to normal by giving Washington some concessions and may even pay reparations to the United States but this would not be enough,” the former diplomat said.
China No Longer the China after Corona
He added: “But we, as Iran, have to assume that after corona China in nature will no longer be the same China and will have a new geopolitical definition that is closer to our aspirations from China. It will be a China, which no longer seeks a joint global leadership with the United States for the sake of which to overlook the US pressures on Iran.
Emphasizing that two things are taking place which are unavoidable, Malaek explained: First, the United States is working to isolate China from Western technology, especially the electronics industry. US pressure to drive Huawei out of the 5G market, which is now also happening in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom, and sanctions on ZTE and its near-capture, pressure to move Apple’s product line from China to India, and many more measures in this respect.
Chinese Government’s Inability to Predict Future of Its Economy
He added: “The second issue is the reduction of the world’s strategic reliance on trade with China by transferring production lines from China to other countries and increasing attention to national industries due to the identification of managerial gaps after the corona crisis and consequently a drop in China’s production strength by moving part of the industries to other places. It should be noted that the Chinese economy shrank by 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. China predicts it will lose markets, so much so that at the current People’s Congress, which began on May 22, the Chinese government was unable to predict the future of its economy.
Commenting on some analyses that forecast a more important role for China in the future, Malaek said: “If the forecast comes true that China will be disappointed with the joint management of the globe with the United States, or in other words, accepts the multipolar system and commits to its requirements, then new structures must be expected to emerge. Now either the United States will withdraw from the current organization due to China’s influence and establish new institutions of its own, or institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and BEICS Bank will play a greater role in global politics.
Emphasizing that the important point for Iran is to be able to make the right choice in this situation, the former Iranian ambassador to China added: “I believe that assuming that the country’s foreign policy tendencies are stable, the best choice is to develop infrastructural relations with Beijing.” Of course, after corona, China will need Iran much more geopolitically than before, and the current inequality which has been written in terms of Iran’s total need for China, can be changed and become more rational.