Stabilize US-China Relations — Before a ‘Near Miss’ Turns Into a Crisis

This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing — the latest, welcome effort by Washington to inject stability into a dangerously fraught U.S.-China relationship.

Yet despite their progress toward constructive diplomacy, the two nations’ relationship remains at the lowest point since relations were normalized in the seventies, characterized by mutual suspicion and hostility, especially when it comes to the issue of Taiwan.

A recent close encounter between a U.S destroyer and a Chinese warship in the Taiwan Strait highlights how — unless Beijing and Washington take meaningful steps to avert it — the dangerous dynamics driving the world’s two most powerful countries toward a possible crisis or conflict over Taiwan can quickly overwhelm any nascent diplomatic thaw.

The incident in question involved a potentially dangerous maneuver by the Chinese warship, which cut in front of the U.S. warship at a distance of 150 yards. This unprecedented maneuver—the first of its kind in the Taiwan Strait—reflects an escalation in Beijing’s overall efforts to challenge what it sees as an American escalation regarding Taiwan. China’s perceptions are shaped in part by an erosion of Washington’s long-standing One China policy and increased U.S. efforts to elicit greater support for its Taiwan policy from distant allies like Canada (whose warship took part in this weekend’s transit).

Read the full piece in Tribune News Service.