It is important to open our eyes to this new rivalry between the great powers, says an expert on the United States and China.
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The United States wants to take advantage of the fact that NATO has become more united than before after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But Russia is not at the top of the US agenda.
They have set their eyes on another team:
“Even if Putin’s war continues, we will continue to focus on the most serious long-term threat to global order – and that consists of China,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Thursday.
Don’t expect any price change
In the speech, Blinken presented the new US strategy toward China. It identifies China as a partner and a threat at the same time.
Why is the United States afraid of China? The flash gave two reasons. First, Blinken noted, China blows human rights, laws and regulations. He highlighted China’s mass surveillance of its population, the mass internment of the Muslim Uyghur population in concentration camps, and China’s vociferous behavior toward neighboring countries.
Second, China is rich and powerful enough to influence the rest of the world and impose its will. The bad behavior at home and toward neighbors shows what the world can expect from China internationally, Blinken said.
China calls them schools. New photos and documents from the camps tell an entirely different story.
We cannot trust that China will change course. So we will shape the strategic environment around China to advance our vision of an open and inclusive world order, the foreign minister said.
super military power
If you look at the defense budget, the United States is undoubtedly still the world’s superpower. Last year, the country spent about 7,200 billion Norwegian kroner, twice what the whole of Europe put together. It presents the annual public presentation of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), “Military Balance”.
But China is a strong second. In 2021, they spent nearly NOK 2000 billion on defense. The amount is expected to grow.
The US goal is to keep China in check and avoid war, according to Blinken.
– The Foreign Minister said, but we will defend our interests against any threat.
To achieve this, the United States will focus on investment, competition, and, not least, a new strategic concept: “integrated deterrence.” It’s common:
- Extensive military cooperation with allies, as well as in areas related to nuclear weapons, space and information
- Economic, technological and diplomatic strengthening of the alliance
We will avoid another cold war
Blinken also stressed the importance of international cooperation, especially with allies. But the United States also has close economic relations with China, and in order to find solutions to global problems, cooperation cannot be avoided:
– Blinken said that no country should refrain from resolving existential challenges because of bilateral differences.
He added that the United States would not end up in another cold war with China.
Austin Tonsjo says the world is facing a new cold war that is unlikely. He is a professor in the Department of Defense Studies (IFS). There looking at China and Russia.
Tunso points out that the world today is much more closely intertwined than it was during the Cold War. The United States and China have no choice but to deal with each other. But it is a relationship that will be marked by competition and conflict, and the time for unlimited free trade is over.
– It is important that we open our eyes to this new rivalry between the great powers, Tunsjø tells Aftenposten.
– It won’t be easy. We get more excitement and competition, reflecting the globalization we’ve seen in the past 30 years. But we are not going back to the way it was during the Cold War.
Tunso believes that small countries such as Norway now face new challenges. It demands maneuvering between the United States and China as the relationship becomes increasingly tense. At the same time, it is not necessary to choose a side as was the case during the Cold War.
There is no Russian challenge
But what about Russia? Blinken barely mentioned the country in his Thursday speech. Tunsjø thinks it’s not too weird. Russia is not a real competitor to the United States and China. The professor noted that Russia is economically, militarily and technically backward, and the economy is only one-tenth of China’s.
If you look inside, you will begin to understand the challenge that China poses to Russia. Of course, the Americans will prioritize China over Russia, he says.
Blinken left little doubt:
The US Secretary of State said the scale and scope of the challenge posed by China will test US diplomacy in an entirely new way.
The clear message was not well received in China.
At a press conference on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Blinken’s letter spreads disinformation, exaggerates the threat from China and constitutes interference in China’s internal affairs.
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