Election-year politics in the U.S. are fanning the flames, as President Donald Trump appears to be using friction with China to drum up support among his base. Whether or not he is reelected in November, underlying differences will remain.
“We are looking at a structural change in the relationship, which will continue even if Trump does not get a second term,” said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Militarily, American and Chinese warships often jockey for position in the South China Sea. Economically, the U.S. is leaning on its allies to exclude Chinese telecom leader Huawei from their mobile networks, raising the specter of cybersecurity. On human rights, the U.S. is imposing sanctions over Chinese policies in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang,
Tougher U.S. views on China have now been “baked into the system,” Tsang said.
Pompeo’s speech was the latest in a series of sharp criticisms aimed at China by Cabinet-level U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General Bill Barr.