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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Analyzing U.S.-China bilateral ties


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of international importance(Indo-Pacific, Regional forums, etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Multipolar World, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India, Indo-Pacific Region, Free and open Indo-Pacific, International organizations.


  • The S. President and Chinese President had their first in-person interaction on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali in November, signaling a probable relaxation of the growing tensions.




Phases in the US-China relationship:

  • 19th century: American missionaries began to arrive in China and began to generate empathy for the nation.
  • During World War II: US backed Chinese nationalists in their fight against Japanese occupation.
  • The US tried to isolate China from 1949: when the communists prevailed over the nationalists.
  • The 1970s: It saw the US and communist China come together to counter the Soviet Union.
  • The 1980s: Beginning of an economic engagement that turned into a huge commercial and technological partnership from the 1990s.
  • 21st century: some in the US began to see China as a potential threat.
    • America believed that China’s growing economic prosperity would inevitably lead to greater democratization of its society.
  • US-China rivalry has intensified in the past two years covering:
    • trade
    • technology
    • naval activities in the South China Sea


Recent downturns in US-China relations:

  • Taiwan: Nancy Pelosi’s historic visit to Taiwan
  • Heavy restrictions: The imposition of heavy restrictions on China’s semiconductor industry by the U.S.


How did relations sour between the U.S. and China?


Reasons for continuous decoupling” of bilateral relations:

  • China’s crackdown in Xinjiang and Hong Kong
  • wolf warrior diplomacy during the COVID-19 blame game
  • Evident support to Russia during the Ukraine crisis
  • Taiwan: Escalating offensive posturing towards Taiwan


Outcome of the meet on the sidelines of G20:

  • There was no joint statement released after the meeting.
  • Easing tensions and reopening channels of communication were agreed upon by both the leaders.
  • US President: He proposed promoting U.S.-China cooperation on the issues of:
    • climate change
    • global macroeconomic stability,
    • global health and food security.
  • The US underlined the human rights concerns surrounding China’s activities in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.
  • China re-emphasised Taiwan’s position as being at “the very core of China’s core interests” as well as “the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.
  • Five noes” by US President:
    • Not seek a new Cold War
    • Not seek to change China’s system
    • Not to revitalize its alliances against China
    • Not to disturb the cross-Strait status quo
    • Not look for conflict with China.


India’s stand on US-China dynamics:

  • Us-China dynamic: India’s engagement with the US-China dynamic has not been an uncomfortable one in the past.
  • International acceptance: When the US sought to isolate China in the 1950s, India tried to befriend it and promote its international acceptance.
  • Alliance with Russia: When the US and China joined to limit Soviet power in the 1970s, India deepened its alliance with Moscow.
  • Modernisation of China: India watched with envy as the US helped the rapid modernisation of the Chinese economy.


Way Forward:

  • Stability in bilateral relations: The recent meeting between the two heads of states certainly imply that there is a move toward bringing in more stability into bilateral relations.
  • China’s more specific objectives like the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland.
    • China has not moved away from its path to attain its long term goal of centrality in the international system.
  • The “new era” of Xi Jinping is marked by China’s efforts to project rather than conceal its capabilities.
  • The US’s three-pillar approach towards China — “invest, align, compete: This showcases the intent to deal with the threat posed by China without sliding into an inadvertent conflict.



Q. With respect to the South China sea, maritime territorial disputes and rising tension affirm the need for safeguarding maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region. In this context, discuss the bilateral issues between India and China.(UPSC 2014) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)