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China is presently the second largest economy in the world, only surpassed by the United States. But some economic annalists believe that in five years China will overtake the United States. China has also made moves to become an important player in world politics, underlined by the Chinese Veto over U.N. action in Syria this past February. But how are the U.S.-China diplomatic relations these days?
In the diplomatic relation with China and with the rest of the countries, Obama has tried to follow the so called Obama Doctrine by trying to make negotiation his priority. China is the United States’ second largest trading partner, but since China opened its economy in the 1980s, the U.S. has imported more Chinese goods than it has exported to the Asian giant.
This phenomenon has helped China to industrialize and to start creating jobs. This is causing the United States an enormous problem because the manufacturing sector can’t compete with cheaper wages abroad, and the American market doesn’t have any trouble accepting the cheaper Chinese products.
Also China is the U.S. third biggest market for exports after Canada and Mexico. In 2011, the country exported almost $104 billion in goods, but President Obama is sure the country can export more. That’s why by 2015 he plans to double the exports, a strategy he is sure will create more jobs at American manufacturers.
But President Obama’s relationship with China has had its ups and downs. It has lacked in constancy during specific periods. For example, in February, during his State of the Union speech, he announced the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that would have the responsibility to investigate unfair trading practices in countries like China.
This changing relationship has not been ignored by the Chinese. Shen Dingli, who is in charge of the Center of American Studies at Fudan University in Shangai, described Obama’s diplomacy as “unstable.” Although U.S.-China relations might be problematic in certain aspects, Dingli explained that at least both Presidents, Obama and Jintao, have something clear: no matter how bad things are, a rupture in their trade relationship is not an option, because it would be a disaster for both nations.
A new protagonist has recently appeared in U.S.-China relations named Chen Guangcheng. He is a blind human rights defender who escaped from house arrest and took shelter in the U.S. embassy in Bejing. After his escape, all the world’s eyes were concentrated on him, and this left the United States in a very delicate situation. They could grant him asylum and endanger their relations with China or give him back, betraying a basic principle that the U.S. supports: human rights worldwide.
The story ended with the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson of China, Liu Weimin, demanding the United States government an apology for intervening in China’s domestic issues. In the end, Chen was able to leave China because he was offered a visiting scholar position at New York University. The Chen issue was the last big struggle between the U.S. and China.
Image Courtesy of International Monetary Fund