In my research, I have found that the history of U.S./China relations are fraught with inconsistency and lack of a singular, clear view of China. This has been expedited recently with the presidential election baring down on the American people. Trump claims to view China as a rival, if not an outright enemy to the United States and advocates a strong foreign policy is necessary when dealing with them. He claims the United States is too dependent on China and owes them far too much money (as of this writing, the United States is over 1 trillion dollars in debt to China). It is also worth noting evidence that the Chinese government does not want President Trump to be reelected. According to reports, the Chinese government censored much of what Vice President Mike Pence had to say about their nation during the recent vice-presidential debate. The feed of the debate was restored when Senator Kamal Harris began to speak. China, as is the case with any sovereign nation that has ever existed or will ever exist, wants to protect its own interests and foster its own growth above all else. Therefore, China does not appear to believe President Trump’s reelection is in their best interests.
On the other side of the political fence right now is former Vice-President Joe Biden. Mr. Biden has been notably less aggressive toward China in his rhetoric to this point in the race, and historically has said that a strong, growing China is a good thing. In a meeting with Chinese officials in 2009, Mr. Biden said “…I’ve held the view for so many years…that a rising China is a positive development.” (Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden to the Opening Session of the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue). Recently, however, in light of allegations of human rights violations being perpetrated by the Chinese government, Biden has referred to Xi Jinping as a “thug” and claims that President Trump has been “played” by China. Mr. Biden’s apparent shift in opinion on China is representative of the lack of consistency within the U.S. government over the last seventy years or so on whether China should be viewed as an enemy or an ally.
This brings me to an issue alluded to in the last paragraph, allegations of human rights violations by the Chinese government which put them in direct ideological, philosophical, and moral conflict with the ideals espoused in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Reports claim China has established a surveillance state, censoring anything the government does not want the people to see. Such actions are consistent with those of Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler. It also flies directly in the face of the idea of free and open exchange of dissenting opinions in the United States. Worse than constant surveillance, however, is the presence of “reeducation camps” in the Xinjiang region of China. A minority sect of Muslims has been subjugated to “reeducation” at these camps. Some even claim these camps are not “reeducation” camps but are actually concentration camps and the Chinese government is participating in a genocide, although these have not been definitely proven.
All this aside, China and the United States are two of the richest, most powerful nations on earth and their relationship has been defined by mutual mistrust for a long time. China may be a rival of the United States, they may even be an enemy, but as the saying goes “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” In order to keep relations between our two nations healthy, it is imperative that we attempt to consistently build trust.
Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden to the Opening Session of the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/09/remarks-vice-president-joe-biden-opening-session-us-china-strategic-econ