President Xi has highlighted challenges arising out of America’s containment policy. Bilateral relations between China and the US seem to be not vibrant at present.
Reports suggest that President Joe Biden had sought a call with his Chinese counterpart President Xi to lessen tensions arising out of the balloon incident and the announcement on AUKUS( Beijing has accused the three countries of fueling an arms race on the provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia). He had expected that the conversation could take place after Xi had been re-elected President by the People’s Congress, which concluded in March of this year. The Chinese side is yet to respond. In the same vein, efforts by the US Secretary of Defence Austin to talk to his Chinese counterpart after the balloon shoot down by the US have not been productive. The incident also led to the cancellation of the visit of Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing.
The Blinken visit was aimed at promoting and bringing some normalcy following the Biden-Xi meeting at the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022. China must make clear its intention to continue to engage with the United States, the Secretary of State also said. An indication of rising tension is President Xi’s remarks that have named the US. “West led by the US have contained and suppressed us in a way, bringing challenges to our development”, he said. China has been under intense pressure from the slowing of its export market and economy of approximately three percent growth in the year 2022, the second worst annual growth in nearly half a century. Currently, the US remains China’s largest trading partner, however, China’s exports to the US were down by 15 percent, though its imports increased by around three percent.
On the military front, the US believes that China plans for an invasion of Taiwan. If this happens, the consequences of this adventurism will be lethal for both countries. Apparently, China will not aggravate the situation further. It doesn’t have the military capacity to overwhelm the island. It lacks the capability for bringing all kinds of support needed to occupy the island. Many also suspect that the Chinese strategy could be different, focusing on partially blockading the island, and cutting off its communication links.
Such blockades would deny key imports to the US. However, China would not achieve, rather would gain condemnation from the West. The economy will be badly affected, as they import 20 percent of medicines and medical supplies from the US. The American consumer electronics sector too would have a major problem as China is a crucial supplier of lithium batteries for mobile phones and electric vehicles. There would be an impact, too in other sectors of trade such as apparel, furniture, machinery, automobiles, telecom equipment, etc
In case some skirmishes occur, the consequences for China could be dangerous First, China is dependent on importing energy resources and Second it imports vast quantities of food.
Some of the oil and gas vulnerability will also be reduced by the pipeline delivery between China and suppliers in Central Asia and Russia. Around 80 percent of China’s imported oil transits through the Indian Ocean from all over the world, especially from the Middle East.
Real vulnerability will happen in the area of food for domestic consumption as China is the world’s largest importer of poultry, meat, dairy products, as well as animal feed. Despite tensions in the region, it is still the largest agricultural export market in the US. As China’s population increases in number this vulnerability will cause severe strain on the food supply.
The Chinese may have the capacity to keep the US at a safe distance from the mainland and Taiwan, but the US navy remains the most challenging and formidable power in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. For many decades China has been promoting the idea of self-reliance and supply chain resilience. China now leads the world in advanced technologies relating to space, robotics, energy, the environment, biotechnology, and AI, etc.
China expects that it will get over its external and internal challenges by making advancements and development of its science and technology with an emphasis on self-reliance and reducing its dependency on global supply chains.
Any war over the Taiwan issue would unfold in a different way. China remains inter-dependent on the rest of the world. Whether it will decide on going to war path is something no one can foretell. China has always been a peace-loving country. So the onus is for the US to spell out real intention towards China.
America seems to be on a thorny crusade right now. Messing with China can impact the entire European economy. And that the US does not want to happen. There are no effective tools to reach China except to promote peace in the region and beyond.