As the world braces for the historic US-North Korea summit, the much larger potential conflict seems to be brewing in Asia.
The confrontation between China and the United States has been raising tensions worldwide for the last decade. Chinese accuse America of refusing to acknowledge Chinese development and superpower status, while Americans claim that China employs predatory tactic which fuels its economic growth. The recent exchange of economic tariffs initiated by the United States president Donald Trump hasn’t really done wonders for the relationship between the two countries.
The trade war that would threaten entire global economy may be averted, but the differences between Chinese economic system and the rest of the g20 countries may prove to be too much to reconcile. Beijing insists on its own blend of state capitalism rolled into a communist creed, and any change its trade partners demand is seen as a foreign threat and thus unlikely to be met. On the other hand, it holds 20% of the American foreign debt and the ability to absorb much more, which gives it a lot of leverage when it comes to dealing with Washington.
The economy is not the only field where America and China clash with each other. Politics in the region are also very sensitive, give the issues with Taiwan and Chinese expansion into the South China Sea. Taiwan has been a long-standing flashpoint and a point of dispute between Beijing and Washington. Chinese claims based on historical facts seem to put the country at odds with many of its neighbors and the tensions in the region are always high, occasionally flaring up, like the recent interception of the Australian ships by the Chinese Navy.
One thing both countries can agree is the need to resolve the North Korean issue peacefully. They don’t have many reasons to trust Pyongyang, but it would seem that Kim Jong Un may be sincere in his desire to open up a dialogue with the west, something that may prove beneficial to China as well. After all, if North Korea returns to the world markets, China is in a prime position to benefit from it, as the most likely investor who will fund the development of the Pyongyang’s economy.
The process will be a long one and no one can guarantee it will succeed, as any dealing with North Korea carries a risk. What is certain, is that both China and America will need to take part in it and it will be a great opportunity to work together and perhaps solve some of the issues that have been plaguing their relationships for decades.