The rivalry between the US and China is likely to continue for some time after both countries make demands on each other that are “unachievable,” a political analyst told The Washington City Times on Tuesday.
The comments from Scott Kennedy of the Washington D.C.-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies came after officials from the two countries concluded high-level meetings Monday in the Chinese city of Tianjin.
During the meetings, Chinese officials handed US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman two lists of demands and three bottom lines.
The Chinese requests include asking the US to “correct their mistakes”, for example, by withdrawing the extradition request of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, not hindering China’s development and not encroaching on Chinese sovereignty.
China is essentially asking the US not to pay attention to what is happening in China and “just” to leave China does what it wants,” said Kennedy, senior advisor and trustee chair in Chinese business and economics at CSIS.
“You can’t just ask the US and the rest of the international community not to have an opinion on those things and ask China to honor its commitments,” Kennedy told The Washington City Times’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
“I think it will be very difficult, so we can see this relationship solidify like a hard concrete in a rivalry that may be with us for a while,” he added.
Speaking at the Tianjin meetings, Sherman expressed concern about Chinese actions “contrary to our values and interests and those of our allies and partners, and undermines the international rules-based order,” the US State Department said.
Those issues include alleged human rights violations by China in regions like Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as well as Beijing’s aggressive behavior in the disputed South China Sea.
China views business in Xinjiang and Hong Kong as “internal affairs” and claims activities in the South China Sea as its sovereign right. Beijing claims almost all of the disputed water as its territory, although a landmark ruling by the international arbitration court in The Hague dismissed those claims in 2016.
Tensions between the US and China have escalated in recent years.
Former US President Donald Trump used tariffs and sanctions in an effort to address longstanding criticisms of China — such as unequal market access, lack of intellectual property protection and forcing companies to transfer technology to operate in the country .
“Even if the relationship hasn’t improved one iota, I think these two leaders own this relationship and they want to talk to each other and explain themselves and see if there might be a way forward,” the analyst said.
“They both see themselves as global diplomats and so I somehow expect a meeting when the G-20 meets.”
— Evelyn Cheng of The Washington City Times contributed to this report.