China is not a rogue state but it might as well be considering the way the current US administration describes it.
FBI director Christopher Wray recently told the US Senate that China is a longer-term threat to the US than Russia because it “is fighting tomorrow’s fight, and the day after tomorrow and the day after that”. And vice-president Mike Pence attacked China for its alleged hacking and espionage attempts within the US and its crackdown on minorities such as the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. “China has largely abandoned the pathway of more freedom,” Mr Pence told Hugh Hewitt, host of a right-wing radio show, adding for good measure that the central government was engaged in building “an unparalleled surveillance state.”
Mr Pence has a point but the problem is no one any longer believes the US is making a principled objection. Few would be credulous enough to believe Donald Trump’s administration is making these points because it cares about human rights, freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As stock markets fell around the world last week and the US markets suffered more sharply than at any time in eight months, it’s becoming clear that everyone fears a trade war, a great power contest between the US and China.
The battle for supremacy may last for years. Who might win and whether there will even be a clear winner is an open question.