04.06.2023 Author: Vladimir Terehov

On the latest signals in the lines of communication between the USA and the PRC

For a system to function, its component parts must exchange signals with specific information encoded in them. This is also true for mankind, which at this moment in its evolution can be approximated as a sophisticated system made up of around 200 elements or states.

If they interact in any manner, expressing everything from intense hostility to unconditional love, it demonstrates that the human social structure is still alive. Any continuous loss of communication signals is unmistakable proof that the human race is splintering into distinct social groups.

There’s a danger that this or that faction may start to consider, metaphorically speaking, diverse types of missiles and other state-of-the-art weaponry as the ultima ratio in the de facto terminated debate about the best way to solve this or that problem. In case this means is used, the need to solve not just some, but all human problems in general, is likely to become irrelevant. Forever. Unfortunately, this is the point at which humanity’s gradual progress, which began five or six centuries ago, has arrived.

This is why, among other things, the loss of signal exchange between the world’s major nations, in which the entire strength (intellectual, economic, and military) gathered by mankind at the time is basically concentrated, offers a specific danger.

It is critical to address a few issues here. First, there is already a trend toward another division of humanity into two active blocs, the clash of which is being followed with interest (“who would win”) by a very large but relatively inactive third bloc. But, secondly, this trend, which is in its infancy, is almost decisively conditioned by provisionally subjective factors, that is, it may well be reversed. Finally, the third point, which is the evidence of the previous statement, is the continued exchange of information signals between the first two groupings.

Let us stipulate that this last point is already manifesting itself in a “truncated” version. In other words, the leader of the opposing bloc (the United States) indicates a desire to maintain communication with the leader of the PRC-Russia tandem, but with the unavoidable need that all business interactions with the now-important Chinese partner be discontinued. The US obvious objective consists in halting the trend of deepening Sino-Russian cooperation in nearly all areas of interstate ties.

It is essentially this semantic content that is contained in virtually all the signals Washington has been sending to Beijing of late. It was substantially finalized in a joint communication that was agreed at the conclusion of the G7 foreign ministers’ regular conference, which took place from April 16 to 18 in the Japanese resort town of Karuizawa. This message to China was in fact approved at the G7 Hiroshima summit, which took place a month later.

At the end of the event, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared before reporters. His speech was mainly devoted to the sharply aggravated problem of compiling the next U.S. budget. In this regard, he announced the cancellation of the entire upcoming overseas tour and, as a result, his absence from a number of other planned (and no less significant) events. Among other truly relevant global issues, a special place was given to commenting on the “common G7 position” on the People’s Republic of China.

And the first thing that was stated was to deny the intention of the USA, with its allies, to pursue a course of so-called “economic decoupling” from the PRC. Although this term that appeared in the U.S. expert community at least in 2020, is increasingly appropriate in determining the real course of the U.S. Chinese direction. And in any case, it fully corresponds to the situation in the field of high-tech industries. In fact, the latter was confirmed in the same speech by Joe Biden, when he spoke of his country’s desire to have “supply chain diversification in critical production processes” such that supply chains are not dependent on any one country.

Various aspects of relations with China were also touched upon several times during the answers to journalists’ questions. Each time these answers were of the same “dual” nature. In particular, the current U.S. administration’s continued respect for the One China principle was noted when it came to the Taiwan issue. At the same time, there was talk of continuing to support Taiwan’s “defense self-sufficiency” and the unacceptability to the United States of Beijing’s “unilateral” actions on this issue.

In general, concerning the tandem of the PRC-Russia, that is, the current geopolitical opponents of the United States, there are attempts once again to implement the strategy of 50 years ago, which then ended with complete success. It boiled down to a fundamentally different approach in relations with each of the two main competitors, which were then the USSR and the PRC.

Today, the Russian Federation is portrayed as almost “incapable of achieving agreements” while signals of the dual nature are sent to China. That is, along with the recognition of the challenges posed by Beijing, “which require an appropriate response,” the intention to develop a “constructive relationship with it in order to solve global problems” is also expressed. Again, this is conditional on China actually joining the attempt to blockade Russia comprehensively in the international arena.

Since then, however, the situation at the global gaming table has changed dramatically. If 40-50 years ago Beijing played second fiddle in the confrontation with Washington, today the former is the main and long-term opponent of the latter. Under these conditions, the “back-to-back” format of relations with Russia is becoming increasingly important for China, which cannot be sacrificed “in exchange” for some ambiguous signals from Washington in the economic sphere.

Although they, too, of course, are of high importance to the PRC economy, which continues to be closely intertwined with the U.S. economy. The task of probing the prospects for the evolution of this key area of bilateral relations was (outwardly “on occasion”) handled by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, who, while in the United States on May 25-26 this year, held talks with his counterparts Gina Raimondo and Catherine Tigh. It is worth noting that from the interlocutors representing the current female power (without any quotation marks) management triad of the United States, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen was absent, who had previously said a lot of bad things about the PRC.

The general tone of the Commerce Department’s summary of the meeting with the Chinese guest drew attention to the fact that last November, the leaders of both countries held talks in Indonesia (a fact that President Joe Biden also referred to during the above-mentioned press conference), as well as the hostess’s expression of disagreement with the “recent actions taken by the PRC against some U.S. companies.” This, of course, alludes to the limits imposed on one of the world’s top semiconductor manufacturers, Micron Technology (an international corporation), in regard to the sale of its products in China in May of this year.

These measures had been taken in response to Washington’s attempts to conduct the above mentioned “decoupling” from China in the area of the most relevant technologies today. The fact that these attempts appear to be long-term in nature is evidenced by the content of the negotiations between Gina Raimondo and her Japanese counterpart Yashitoshi Nishimuro. The two sides had a meeting in Detroit, USA, on May 27 on the margins of the ministerial forum in preparation for the next APEC summit. By the way, Wang Wentao’s official reason for visiting the United States was to attend this forum.

It is clear that so far the negatives prevail over the positives in the flow of signals that continue to be exchanged between the two leading world powers (despite the declarative statements made by Joe Biden about the latter’s presence). It is evidenced, in particular, by the fakes that appeared about China providing fentanyl precursor chemicals, used in the fentanyl manufacturing process, to Mexican cartels.

This is not the first attempt to accuse the PRC of something “really bad.” Previously, a similar move was undertaken in connection with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. So let’s evaluate to determine if this stream of signals contains any information in the manner of “Skripal’s poisoning with Novichock.” If that happens, it would be a definite sign that the U.S.-Chinese relationship is “screwed.” Consider the current Russian-British relationship.

For the time being, the fact that there are (at least some) signals in the (continuous) lines of communication provides evidence that the situation between today’s two major international players is not hopeless.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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