20.10.2023 Author: Vladimir Terehov

Regarding the US Senate delegation’s trip to China

Regarding the US Senate delegation’s trip to China

The bipartisan US Senate delegation’s four-day trip to the People’s Republic of China, which started on October 7 with a landing at Shanghai airport and ended with a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, is an occasion worth noting. Both in terms of the interactions between the two major international powers and, therefore, in international politics.

Let us have a look at a few difficulties that are related to this occurrence. China was not the only country the delegation visited while traveling abroad, but it was the first and clearly the most significant. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the Senate delegation’s discussions with the Chinese leader, as well as prior discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, served as the foundation for later discussions in the other two visiting countries, South Korea and Japan.

The delegation’s leadership and the inclusion of representatives from both party factions shed light on the significance of the scheduled trip to China. Accordingly, Charles “Chuck” Schumer led the Democratic delegation, which makes sense, while Michael Crapo led the Republican delegation.

This establishes, among other things, that the discussed bilateral contact was the highest in terms of representation since last November’s meeting of the leaders of both nations in Indonesia, where the subsequent different ASEAN events took place. In contrast to past ministerial gatherings that had taken place in both nations, it stood out particularly in light of the mid-September summit in Malta between Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to President Joe Biden, and Wang Yi.

It should be emphasized once again that the very fact that signals are still being sent along the lines of bilateral communication shows that, at the very least, the two great world powers are still looking for a way to resolve the extremely serious issues in their relationships. With frequent belligerent-militaristic rhetoric directed toward each other.

The extraordinary significance of this occurrence is conditioned by the fact that the issue of their worldwide confrontation is already, to a greater or lesser extent, in the focus of the current stage of the Big World Game. Its presence can be felt in practically all neighborhood issues, difficulties, and straightforward disputes in some way or another and without much hesitation. For instance, the current Middle Eastern conflict.

Or the ongoing for over a year and a half conflict with Ukraine. Throughout this period, fuel has been put into the fire of the Ukrainian conflict with one purpose in mind: to try to knock Russia out of the tandem with China in the framework of back-to-back strategic stance, which appears to be the weaker link in it. That is why their leaders’ talks are so crucial in the process of harmonizing both countries’ perspectives on the most critical moments of the same Big World Game. Held six months earlier in Moscow and forthcoming on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing.

This second one is significant because, immediately following it, the Chinese leader may travel to the upcoming APEC meeting, which will be held in mid-November in San Francisco. If Xi Jinping attends, he will almost certainly meet with US President Joe Biden, as he did in Indonesia a year ago. Who has consistently highlighted its importance this year. Surely, the issue of such a trip must have been one of the primary issues covered during the US Senate delegation’s visit to China.

Although it was not mentioned during the final press conference for American journalists convened by US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns. The main speaker was Chuck Schumer, head of delegation, who felt it necessary to publicly address three issues both in his opening remarks and during the question-and-answer period. Namely, problems in bilateral economic relations, the emerging conflict in the Middle East, and a relatively new one involving semi-official accusations of Beijing’s involvement with Mexican drug cartels. The nature of the developing Russian-Chinese relations was noted incidentally, along with the “Ukrainian” issue.

Let’s make a quick comment about the first issue. In the past few years, it is concealed by all the negative that comes with the rising rivalry between Washington and Beijing on the international stage in general and the quest for influence in the “Global South” in particular, and has become particularly acute because of itself.

The record negative trade balance between Washington and Beijing, which has remained at the persistent level of $400 billion for years, is the fundamental cause of Washington’s discontent with the current state of affairs in trade. There are several valid explanations for this. It is worth noting that during Trump’s presidency, Beijing demonstrated its desire to gradually lower this figure within the context of the aforementioned Phase One Agreement signed in January 2020.

However, politics severely interfered with this improving trend for bilateral relations not long after it had begun. The “hawk” wing of the American political elite, which former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo represented, asserted itself loud and clear. Different restrictive measures have been implemented against the operation of Chinese IT-companies (mainly Huawei) both in the US and worldwide markets in an effort to at least slow down China’s development into a technologically advanced power.

This approach has evolved under the guise of de-risking ever since. Japan, the major European nations, and the EU bureaucracy—three of the US’s closest allies—are being drawn into it. Immediately after the delegation of US senators left China, there was a message that the Joe Biden administration was enacting tight steps to prevent Chinese firms from accessing chips used in emerging artificial intelligence systems.

During the aforementioned press conference, Chuck Schumer turned the situation of the culprit of the problems “upside down” in the field of contact between IT companies from both countries. His words implied that it was Beijing that was obstructing the work of American companies in the Chinese market. It’s possible they were referring to the temporary limits imposed on Micron Technology, the biggest US semiconductor company, on the Chinese market in May of this year. It should be recalled that this was China’s first such move (under the same pretext of “ensuring security”) in response to the United States’ innumerable, we repeat, recent efforts.

It is worth noting, however, that the same Micron Technology applied (and was accepted) to participate in the next (and already sixth) major China International Import Expo (the CIIE). As usual, it will be held in Shanghai from November 5th to November 10th. It should be emphasized that the American pavilion is always the most representative of all foreign pavilions at the CIIE.

Two major statements, maybe in response to the encouraging signal from the US, were made. First, the US president’s office declared on behalf of the Senate delegation that two major South Korean electronics firms, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, had been granted permission to use American chips at production facilities they had set up in China.

Second, Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s largest chipmaker, is also permitted to conduct business in China. Be aware that this isn’t the case with the newest chips, specifically those whose “packing density” is equivalent to 28 nm.  The same TSMC is developing facilities for the manufacturing of chips with a “packing density” of several nm in American Arizona, as well in Japan, and Germany.

However, in the author’s perspective, all of this appears to be secondary at this point, intended to demonstrate that the two major world powers are not “slamming the door” on bilateral relations.

Nothing was stated regarding the Taiwan dispute or other issues that have strained these relations during the news conference listed above. Chuck Schumer has been actively involved in this subject as well as Washington’s long-standing charges against Beijing for “human rights violations” in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. Even so, they were undoubtedly set out in front of Chinese negotiators by visitors behind closed doors on the negotiating table.

The planned agenda for the US Senate delegation’s next international trip is extremely impressive in this regard. The delegation left Beijing for Japan and South Korea. Washington has recently succeeded in constructing a triple (clearly anti-Chinese) structure of “US-Japan-ROK”, After fruitless efforts in this direction for hardly two decades.

Finally, the commentary drew attention to what was published on October 12 in the Chinese Global Times (with a remarkable illustration) by a bipartisan commission of the US Congress that centered around the possibility and “strategy” of waging a war with China and Russia at the same time.

It appears that the commentary’s author is correct in his assertion that this report’s writers and a sizeable portion of the American establishment, as opposed to American business, are currently experiencing a “nightmare” situation.


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

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