When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: us china relations


Big Business, No Red Phone: Why U.S. v. China Is A Different Kind Of Cold War

To some, tensions between the U.S. and China look like a remake of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. Yet the West's nemesis this time is more sophisticated and tied to us commercially in ways Moscow never was. There are, however, also new kinds of danger.


PARIS If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ... And yet. The relationship between China and the United States looks more and more like the Cold War of the past between the United States and the USSR, but it is something wholly different.

That difference of course begins with economic co-dependency. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $690 billion in 2022 — a record — with a deficit that increased by $30 billion, to the detriment of the United States. The world, and even more its Asian neighbors, may be afraid of Chinese ambitions, but it is increasingly dependent on China economically — just as the Middle Kingdom depends, for its growth, on its foreign exchanges.

No, we are far from the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The destruction of the Chinese spy balloon may evoke the aerial incidents that preceded the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. And it is legitimate to wonder whether Taiwan will be a new Cuba. But, for the sake of historical rigor and geopolitical understanding – one must point out the significant differences between the “real” Cold War of yesterday and the “strange” Cold War of today.

First, Americans understood the USSR much better than they understand China. George Kennan's 1947 essay "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," published in Foreign Affairs, formulated the basis for the strategy of "containment." Today, in the United States (or elsewhere), there is no comparable analysis of China — no equivalent of this foundational text.

Watch VideoShow less

Balloons? UFOs? The Real Story Is The Perilous State Of U.S.-China Relations

Let's call it the "war of the balloons": Four unidentified flying objects have now been shot down by fighter jets in one week over North America. But the mystery of the details should not hide the bigger picture of how far U.S.-Sino relations have sunk in the past 10 days.


PARIS — The first was the infamous Chinese spy balloon discovered over Montana; the next three, whose nature and nationality remain unknown, were spotted and destroyed — one above Alaska, the second above Canada, the third above Michigan.

Canadian aircraft also participated in the operation as part of NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian air defense command for North America.

Hoping to save face or avoid blame, or just not to be outdone, the Chinese government said yesterday that a suspicious balloon had been spotted in the Yellow Sea, and that the military was preparing to shoot it down.

Keep reading...Show less

Old Witch Farce, No Fly Zone:  Specter Of Pelosi Taiwan Trip Raises Heat In Region

A phone call Thursday between Presidents Xi and Biden may have avoided adding tensions to U.S.-China relations, but now all attention will be back on the question of whether Nancy Pelosi lands in Taipei next month for a meeting that Beijing has been warning against and the Chinese media stirs the pot.

It's not quite "Nixon goes to China," but the question of whether U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan is already stirring geopolitical tensions, and sparking rhetorical bluster from Beijing's official channels, as well as media and social networks.

Following The Financial Times' report on July 19 of a planned trip, Pelosi herself has still not confirmed whether she will be the most senior Congressional figure to make an official visit to Taiwan in 25 years. But that hasn't stopped continuous speculation and threats, and even insults, coming from mainland China.

The possibility of a visit also further complicated an already highly charged call Thursday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first since March.

Keep reading...Show less

We May Have Just Witnessed The Moment China Overtook The U.S.

It will be marked in the historical record as the date when China took over control of Far East Asia.

WASHINGTON — There are very few moments in our lives when we have a chance to witness such an extraordinary political performance as unfolded a few days ago in Beijing. Unexpectedly, the 34-year-old North Korean dictator decided to pay a visit to his political tutor Xi Jinping, 30 years his senior and the strongman of China. Xi, who recently forced his political subordinates to grant him a mandate that allows him to reign in China until the end of his days, now has similar powers as pre-revolutionary emperors, notably the first Communist tsar, Mao Zedong.

Only a month after Xi Jinping gained his imperial powers, the young Kim Jong-un put his own imperial outfit on, summoned his wife, and boarded the family's armored train. Heading to the capital of the Middle Kingdom, it was like the prodigal son's return home, a harmony within the political universe that we all thought was long gone. Instead, it came and hit with a powerful blow, not at all as nostalgic as a Hollywood remake, but a strong statement that the old is the future of the world order.

Keep reading...Show less