While perusing the Financial Times over the past few days, I have come across several articles concerning rising issues with China. The most common theme among these articles was the growing amount of cyber theft that US officials have traced back to China. Other articles detail growing tensions between China and the US, as well as China and the EU.
This past Friday, President Obama met with President Xi Jinping at a California estate in what would be their first Presidential meeting. There are high hopes that the meeting that took place would lay some groundwork for solving the growing issues between the US and China. These hopes are quite high, as the two Presidents will have time to discuss in a much more private manner without media or chaperones. The core hope of this summit will be a better management of the competition between the two countries.
At the top of the US agenda is the Chinese cyber theft of US trade secrets. The issue of cyber theft has become so serious that US officials have actually begun considering unilateral trade and other sanctions against Chinese entities and individuals. In 2012, the value of goods seized by the US due to intellectual property violations in China alone totaled $906 billion. In March, a specific unit of the People’s Liberation Army in Shanghai was named in a report that claimed it had been stealing US trade secrets. China has denied these allegations which poses further risk to the US-China relationship if the US were to go about with acting on any of the proposed actions to combat cyber theft. One major threat is a potential trade-war between the two nations that could have harmful consequences for both economies, as well as other economies around the world.
Another issue to be discussed at the summit, important to the Chinese, is the increase in US attention and military assets in the Asia region. China views this as an “exercise in containment” on the part of the US.
The EU is also facing increasing tension with China. The People’s Daily, the Communist part’s mouthpiece, recently stated, “The change of the times and the shifts of power have failed to change the condescending attitude of some Europeans”. This could be in response to Brussels adding duties on solar panels this past week which come from China. In retaliation, China launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation against European wines. This has the possibility to alarm people in the EU, as well as outside of it, as it adds to the seemingly mounting attitude out of China that the West is in decay and the time of China has come.
“We are now looking at a Beijing which positions itself as an equal to the US and superior to a lot of smaller nations”, said one western diplomat.
With mounting outward pressures by China in fulfilling the “Chinese Dream” of becoming the leading superpower, one thing is certain; toes will be stepped on to get there.