“The Chinese are pursuing multilateralism as the main strategy of their foreign policy as against the interests of the United States as the US hegemony is on the decline and multilateralism expedites this trend,” Hamed Vafaee told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.
He said that several main factors need to be taken into consideration if relations between China and the United States during the presidency of Biden are to be analyzed.
Vafaee said that the increasing presence of China in the international fora and its rapid promotion and growth in trade and economy as well as challenging the Western governance models especially in relation to the management of Covid-19 outbreak have threatened commercial interests between China and the United States and the hegemonic status of America in the world are the main considerations which need to be taken into account while analyzing the prospects of relations between China and the US during the Biden’s tenure.
“In the macro strategic view towards relations between China and the United States, it should be mentioned that Americans, in the late period of Obama and early years of Trump, considered China in their intelligence analyses evidently as the main threat to their strategic interests.”
Vafaee, who is the professor of China studies at the University of Tehran, said there are two views inside China towards the United States.
“One approach believes that the status quo are improving in the positive manner while tensions would remain at the level of past even after the termination of the corona outbreak. They believe the relations between China and the United States will not exacerbate in the future. However, the second approach is negative towards the future of relations between the two countries.”
The positive view towards the future of relations between China and the United States
Vafaee explained that followers of the positive approach believe that the intensification of tensions is not to the benefit of the Americans and therefore China-US relations would remain the same in the future.
“Due to the weaknesses of the United States in the region as the result of growing China’s strong regional policy, a remarkable portion of US military forces are relocating from the Middle East to the East Asia. They however believe that the US military era in the South China Sea is almost over and relations between China and countries located in that region are not like the past. China has exploited the opportunity of the corona period in the best possible manner and improved its ties with other countries such as Japan and South Korea.”
The analyst of China issues emphasized the necessity of attention to the process of discharging the potential of power from Atlantic to the Pacific and the repercussions of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Participation Treaty (RCEP) as an important economic super group in the east and southeast of Asia.
“China is trying to work with Taiwan and Japan as the supporters of the military presence of the United States in this region and has begun a strong regional policy under the main economic arm and economic relations and this convergence in the south east of Asia has caused concerns for the Americans.”
Referring to other regional policies of China, he said Beijing is pursuing programs with other countries in the region in the area of soft power other than hard power.
“The free trade facilitation (FTA) program between China and Japan and South Korea would make China to engage in free trade agreement with these two countries as the main US allies in the region. This is a big event. China is interacting with these two countries now in the fight against corona outbreak as they are facing financial difficulties as the result of the spread of Covid-19. Japan and South Korea have welcomed the stretched hand of China—all restricting cooperation with the United States.”
Negative approach towards the future of relations between China and the United States
Asked about the followers of the negative approach towards the future of relations between China and the United States, Vafaee said “they believe that Americans have always considered as a redline in economy if other countries would have outperformed more than 60 percent of the GDP of the United States.”
He added that when the former Soviet Union registered a GDP more than 60 percent of the US GDP, America adopted a tougher stance towards the Soviet Union which ultimately resulted in the collapse of the union under pressures from the United States and domestic problems of the union.
“The economic growth of Japan was controlled by the United States policy of Mercantalism. China has now passed this redline for any reason and therefore we will witness more tensions in the future.”
Vafaee said that in China, some believe that the presence of Trump was like pouring hot water all at once on China so that China is burnt and retreated.
“However, the presence of Biden is like sitting in a pan of water which is gradually getting hot and you are informed only when you are burnt because you have ignored the gradual warming of water. In China, they warn that Biden and Trump are two edges of the same blade.”
Vafaee said that Chinese believe that the approach of the king of kings is sometimes hard and sometimes soft.
“This means the Chinese would be moderate. This is the main strategy of China against the US and in a ping-pong policy, if the ball comes from each side, it will inevitably go to the same direction. The Chinese have openly declared that they are not seeking tension however if you hit us, you will be hit.”
Relations between China and the United States will not be different during the presidency of Biden
This member of the academic staff of the University of Tehran said the general view on the future of relations between China and the United States is that there will be no difference compared to Trump’s period as China has already passed the economic redline of the United States.
“Definitely, the Biden administration would recognize China as a strategic threat for the United States. However, the method of confrontation would be different. Biden would act smartly and this would make the work more difficult for China. However, the Chinese would also reciprocate.”
China’s attention to the policy of multilateralism
Vafaee said that multilateralism is an important and influential factor in the future of relations between China and the United States.
“The Chinese are pursuing multilateralism as the main strategy of their foreign policy and this is very important. This is a policy based on realities on the ground and not ethics or moralities. The present conditions require that China beats the drum of multilateralism. Such a policy is against the interests of the United States as the hegemony of the United States is weakening and multilateralism would expedite such a decline.”
He said that the issue of economy has overshadowed relations between China and the United States.
“One should consider that recently a new strategy was set and declared in China. This strategy is known as the Double Cycle strategy. Under such a strategy, the economy of China is defined as a cycle which is entangled with the cycle of global economy in a manner that they rotate together like a bicycle. If we consider this strategy in relation to the issue of multilateralism and the strategic threat overshadowing relations between China and the United States, we can have a general understanding of the future of relations between China and the United States.”