China is strengthening ties with autocratic partners like Russia and Iran, as well as with economically dependent regional countries, while using sanctions and threats to try to fracture the alliances that the United States is building against it. What is worrying for Beijingdiplomats and analysts say, is that the Biden administration It has led other democracies to harden their positions in the face of a rising and more assertive China globally on human rights and regional security issues, such as the disputed South China Sea.
“China has always opposed the US side engaging in bloc politics along ideological lines and joining together to form anti-China alliances,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement to Reuters. “We hope that the relevant countries clearly see their own interests … and not just be America’s anti-China tools.”
After last month’s stormy conversations between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats in Anchorage, Beijing It also appears to be engaging with countries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea, which are on the wrong side of the US-led sanctions.
“China is very concerned about America’s alliance diplomacy,” says Li Mingjiang, associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, noting what he calls attempts to “meet for understanding” with governments. rejected by the West. Days after the meeting of Alaska, the top diplomat of the Chinese government, State Councilor Wang Yi, received the Russian Foreign MinisterSergei Lavrov, who called on Moscow and Beijing to reject what he called the ideological agenda of the West.
A week later, Wang flew to Iran and signed a 25-year economic pact, which Renmin University professor Shi Yinhong believes “exposes all participating Chinese companies to direct or indirect US sanctions.” The presidente Xi Jinping, meanwhile, he exchanged messages with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling for a deeper partnership with another country whose nuclear weapons ambitions have generated sanctions.
Making pineapple with Indonesia and Malaysia
China is also courting its economically dependent neighbors. Wang received the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea in southeastern Fujian province in recent weeks. Li said Beijing will help these countries relaunch their economies after the COVID-19 pandemic, which will make them think twice about siding with the United States.
After Philippine diplomats and generals accused China of sending ships manned by militias to its waters, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not allow territorial disputes in the South China Sea to get in the way of working with China on vaccines. and economic recovery.
Joe Biden has continued to pressure Beijing on many of the same issues the Trump administration did, but with a more partnership-focused strategy. At a meeting between Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday, the two countries presented a united front against China’s assertiveness, on issues ranging from disputed islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, to rights issues in China, the Hong Kong region and Xinjiang.
Last month, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada imposed coordinated sanctions for the reports of forced labor in China’s western Xinjiang region, while more than a dozen countries jointly accused Beijing of withholding information from an investigation into the origin of COVID-19. pandemic.
Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada and France recently joined the United States in sending warships through the disputed South China Sea., or announced plans to do so. Washington also said it wants a “coordinated approach” with allies on participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, amid concerns about human rights violations, particularly related to the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities en Xinjiang.
China has responded angrily to the demonstrations of unity by Washington’s allies, with its diplomats calling Japan a “vassal” and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “watchdog” of the United States.
China’s strategy to weaken this unity revolves around encouraging America’s allies to interact independently with Beijing and prioritizing economic benefits, while punishing them if they engage in joint action against China. Beijing responded to EU sanctions on Chinese officials on Xinjiang with disproportionately harsh counter-sanctions, analysts said, which could torpedo a long-awaited investment deal.
Janka Oertel, Director of the Asia Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, believes that Beijing is willing to sacrifice economic benefits for fundamental interests if they are threatened by the US-EU alliance.
Xi brought up this message in a recent phone call with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, telling him that he hoped that “the EU will make a correct judgment on its independence.” But China still needs European technology and investmentsaid Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China. “They are still talking to us, despite the sanctions, the business continues and that is very reassuring.”
Beijing has not given up on persuading Washington that cooperation is better than competition, as it demonstrated last week when it assured US climate envoy John Kerry of its support for Biden’s virtual climate summit this week. . “China hopes that Washington can appreciate that it is in the United States’ interest to have China as a friend and not as an enemy.”Said Wang Wen, a professor at the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University of China.