China-U.S. relations at all time low after contentious Alaska summit

Japhy Barrera, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

Officials from the United States and the People’s Republic of China sat down in Anchorage, Alaska last week for their first meetings since President Biden took office. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the talks as to how they would be approached by the new administration. This matter became the biggest takeaway for many after Biden’s team, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were excessively antagonistic at the summit.

The opening statements, usually consisting of brief and polite greetings instead turned into Blinken and co. accusing China of human rights abuses. Blinken listed Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Taiwan in a lecturing fashion to the Chinese officials. This behaviour was called out by senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, who stated he perhaps thought too well of the United States to think that they would follow proper protocol regarding the meetings.

Yang’s comments were not made solely following aggressive opening statements, but also the sanctioning of a plethora of Chinese officials just hours before the meetings began. The Biden camp clearly wanted to set a tone, utilizing the talks to further fuel their ‘new cold war’ narrative, rather than planning for peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

Yang went on to point out the hypocrisy of Blinken’s remarks, calling attention to the U.S.’ own disregard for human rights. He stated further that U.S. human rights abuses “did not just emerge in the past four years, the slaughter of black people, that problem has existed for a long time,” and further that the U.S. had “no qualification to talk to China from a position of strength.” 

Following the narcissistic and exceptionalist tone set by Blinken’s delegation, Yang brought the discussion back to the material reality. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. can no longer play the part of the world’s bully, it doesn’t have the leverage to do so any longer. China’s rapid development over the past 40 years has catapulted its economy; one which many predict to surpass the U.S.’ in size within the next few years. This has put the country in a position to challenge Washington’s hegemonic position that has reigned for decades.

Yang’s words were music to the ears of the entire global south; having long been under the boot of U.S. imperialism and aggression, China is now leading the way for the exploited world.

Regardless of this new position of power, China has repeatedly approached relations with the U.S. with the intent to establish mutually beneficial relations. The PRC understands the necessity of peace between the U.S. and China for global stability. Despite this elephant in the room, the U.S. has continued their campaign of aggravation against the country and its people. This campaign knows no ethical boundaries and has spurred high levels of violent sinophobia in recent months. Just days before the Alaska summit, 8 were shot dead in Atlanta in an attack motivated by anti-Asian sentiment and sinophobia. This context renders Blinken’s delegation even more tone deaf, insensitive, and harmful. They continue to propel the media narrative of an evil Chinese spectre, one which must be stopped by any means necessary. 

The truth is that Biden’s team are not stupid, they know exactly what they’re doing. Creating a sense of fear around China, and Chinese people, aligns perfectly with the U.S. plan to stagnate the PRC’s political ascendence. They make baseless accusations of human rights abuses, while simultaneously abusing human rights not only domestically but around the world. It’s clear to see that the state department holds no regard for human rights, but only for furthering its own agenda of a Washington-led neoliberalism as well as U.S. dollar hegemony.

In a statement after the summit Chinese officials said that you there was a “strong smell of gunpowder” in the room as the talks took place. Although a metaphor, this remark is one most definitely grounded in reality. With a combined 6,200+ nuclear weapons between them (with the U.S. making up 5,800 of that), the rift between the U.S. and PRC has every possibility of entailing nuclear warfare. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the strings attached to each of the sides of what many are now calling the new cold war. With the EU, the U.K., Russia and others all looking to protect their interests as well, war between the two superpowers would surely bring about World War 3.

The capitalist system that has subsumed the U.S. state apparatus in its entirety necessitates constant economic growth by any means necessary. This is the root of the recklessness that Washington employs. The state department is willing to put millions, if not billions of people at risk, to serve its corporate interests. 

This agenda transcends presidential administrations, and Biden is seemingly keen to show that. Whether its Trump or Biden, Democrats or Republicans, U.S. imperialism remains uniform. 

At Challenge, we will be following as the Biden administration unfolds, and how this crucial relationship in world politics progresses. We have already seen Biden continuing many of the imperialist policies of Trump, only months into his term. This has only affirmed the socialist perspective on liberal democracy, it is not a viable option. In reality, we are left with two choices: socialism or extinction.

Japhy Barrera

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