At the beginning of 2019, Paul Haenle and Tong Zhao, Carnegie–Tsinghua Center Senior Fellow, discussed the outlook for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula on the China in the World podcast. As 2019 draws to a close, Haenle and Zhao sat down again to analyze developments involving North Korea, the United States, and China over the past year and discuss Kim Jong-un’s end of year deadline for the United States to change its approach to denuclearization negotiations.
Zhao pointed to Trump and Kim’s failure to reach an agreement at the Hanoi Summit as the biggest surprise in developments relating to diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula in 2019. In the wake of the summit and following a series of unproductive working-level talks, Kim is ramping up pressure on the United States to extract concessions, Zhao said. Pyongyang only wants a limited agreement from Washington that would see the relaxation of the most stringent United Nations Security Council sanctions in return for some controls on North Korea’s nuclear program. Zhao argued the United States and the international community no longer have the coercive ability to force North Korea to take significant actions that would circumscribe its nuclear program. As we approach North Korea’s end of year deadline, Zhao said he is uncertain to what extent Pyongyang will ratchet up tensions if a deal cannot be reached. However, he noted that Kim is increasingly adept at ensuring provactive actions such as missile tests do not irritate Russia or China, while applying greater pressure on the United States. North Korea increasingly views Trump as a paper tiger, Zhao said. Facing domestic pressures and unwilling to go to war, many in Pyongyang believe Trump will eventually lower his demands and agree to a lesser deal.
In October 2019, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Delaware Senator Chris Coons, delivered speeches laying out their respective visions for the U.S.-China relationship. In this episode, Paul Haenle spoke with Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute at the Wilson Center, about American and Chinese reactions to the speeches and the implications for the bilateral relationship.
“America has woken up to the dangers of China,” Daly said. There is agreement that the bilateral relationship will be more competitive but a lack of consensus on a comprehensive strategy going forward. Daly argued the speeches by Pence, Pompeo, and Coons articulated different strategies for future engagement. Coons laid out an approach in which competition and cooperation with China are not mutually exclusive. He advocated for the United States to revitalize domestic policies that spur economic growth and uphold U.S. values. Alternatively, Pompeo and Pence put forth more confrontational visions for the relationship in line with those of individuals like Steve Bannon and Senator Tom Cotton who view China as an existential threat. Americans must understand that either competition or outright rivalry with China will incur significant costs for the United States, Daly argued, but the latter approach is likely to be more costly in the long term.
Discussion of U.S.-China-Russia relations often focuses on how American policy is driving Moscow and Beijing closer together. This analysis, however, ignores important factors limiting cooperation between China and Russia and preventing the two countries from forming an alliance. Paul Haenle sat down with Carnegie scholars Dmitri Trenin, Eugene Rumer, and Alexander Gabuev to discuss constraints on the China-Russia relationship and their implications for U.S. policy.
Trenin, Rumer, and Gabuev agreed that there are clear limits to further China-Russia cooperation. Trenin characterized the relationship as an “entente” driven by a high degree of mutual strategic understanding on common core interests. Gabuev argued that China’s rapid pace of growth relative to Russia’s has led to insecurities in the Kremlin despite their growing economic, military, and technological ties. Russia does not want the relationship to become too asymmetrical and fears becoming overly reliant on Beijing for economic and technological support. Rumer argued neither side is looking for an alliance, as both Moscow and Beijing want to maintain positive relations, but at an arm’s-length. Haenle highlighted that Russia and China hold divergent views of the international system, leading to fundamental disagreements over whether to reform or undermine the global order. He argued that China is increasingly frustrated by Russian attempts to further its geopolitical aspirations by exploiting global instability.
The U.S.-China relationship is bad, and it’s getting worse. In part two of this two-part podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Da Wei, assistant president and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, to discuss evolutions in China’s politics, economics, and foreign policy affecting the U.S.-China relationship.
Da Wei argued that shifting domestic politics in China and the United States are negatively impacting bilateral ties. In Washington, there is no longer widespread support for engagement with China. In Beijing, debates over the role of the state in the economy, driven by a fear of falling into the middle-income trap, are limiting progress in implementing economic reforms. In the international sphere, China has abandoned its policy of “hide and bide” and is pursuing a more active foreign policy representative of it growing strength. The confluence of the above factors is exacerbating tensions between Beijing and Washington, as well as between China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific. No matter who wins the next U.S. election, Da Wei argued, China’s focus will be on creating a more stable and predictable relationship. Specifically, this will require Beijing and Washington to focus on defining clear areas of competition and cooperation.
The U.S.-China relationship is bad, and it’s getting worse. In part one of this two-part podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Da Wei, assistant president of and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, to discuss Chinese perceptions of the Trump administration one month after the August 1st tariff announcements.
Da Wei said the Trump administration has focused China’s attention on the need to address underlying issues in the bilateral relationship, but that it has overstepped. President Trump’s use of tariffs has hardened Chinese views and limited Beijing’s ability to make concessions, even if they are in China’s self-interest, without appearing weak. Trump’s decision to impose new tariffs on China following the Osaka G20 meeting and Shanghai negotiations reinforced Chinese views that Trump is unreliable and may even change his mind even if a deal is struck. Da Wei argued Trump’s objectives are different from those of his advisors. Officials in the administration have a range of economic and security goals that are not necessarily aligned with Trump’s. However, Da Wei said that a majority of Chinese people now believe that the United States seeks to undermine China’s rise.
Temporary truces followed by rapid escalations in the U.S.-China trade war continue to hamper progress toward a lasting trade deal. Policymakers in Washington and Beijing are now preparing for the possibility of a protracted dispute, and the ramifications that accompany it. In this podcast, Paul Haenle spoke with Jia Qingguo, professor at and former dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, about the many factors hampering trade negotiations and the deeper structural issues in the U.S.-China relationship. Haenle and Jia discuss the difficulties facing leaders in both countries as they grapple to resolve trade tensions while dealing with domestic politics, vested interest groups, and strong historical legacies.
In this episode, Paul Haenle spoke with Evan Medeiros, former special assistant to the president and senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, on escalating tensions between Japan and South Korea and the implications for the United States and China.
Presidents Trump and Xi will meet on the sidelines of the G20 later this week following a breakdown in bilateral trade negotiations and amid growing technological competition. In this episode, Paul Haenle spoke with Jake Sullivan, former national security advisor to vice president Joe Biden and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on how U.S. policy toward China might differ under a Democratic president and China’s role in the 2020 presidential campaign.
Upheavals and changing political dynamics across the Middle East are threatening to destabilize the region. External powers, notably the United States and China, are shifting their tactics, as Washington rebalances its presence and Beijing expands its economic interests. In this episode, Paul Haenle spoke with Brett McGurk, former special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS and nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on his extensive background working in the Middle East and the implications of shifting U.S. and Chinese policy for the region.
In May 2018, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Wuhan for an informal summit that many said helped reset the relationship following the Doklam crisis. In this episode, Paul Haenle spoke with Rudra Chaudhuri, director of Carnegie India, and Srinath Raghavan, senior fellow at Carnegie India, about the state of China-India relations one year after Wuhan, as well as the implications of Trump’s “America First” policies on New Delhi-Beijing relations.