Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing this weekend offers the best chance for the United States and China to restore stable diplomatic relations since the dustup over a Chinese spy balloon upended his first scheduled visit in February. But it will require more than just diplomatic niceties to overcome the fundamental dysfunction in the relationship between the world’s leading powers.
The U.S. stubbornly believes its own actions toward China are benign and justified, and that China is a belligerent threat; China believes the same thing about the U.S. If the two countries can’t correct these misperceptions and reorient toward shared interests, the Blinken visit will mark only a short lull in an overall trajectory toward serious conflict.
Biden administration officials have repeatedly insisted that they do not want a “cold war,” or to divide the world into hostile geopolitical blocs and force other countries to choose sides. Yet the administration has undertaken a series of policies that are perceived by Beijing—and many other countries fearful of being caught in the middle—as doing exactly that. This includes initiatives aimed at countering China militarily—notably the AUKUS pact with Australia and the U.K., the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with Australia, India, and Japan, and attempts to expand NATO’s role in Asia.
The administration has also gestured toward a change in policy on Taiwan, including Biden’s repeated comments pledging to defend the island and a senior official’s statement that the U.S. views Taiwan as a “strategic asset” for its national security. Despite the administration’s insistence that U.S. policy has not changed, these developments undermine America’s “One China” policy, a careful balancing act that has helped safeguard Taiwanese autonomy while allaying Chinese concerns that the U.S. might embrace the island’s formal independence.
Read the full piece in The New Republic.