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🔢 Key Takeaways

  1. China's mishandling of COVID-19 has had significant global consequences. While cooperation is possible, the evidence suggests that China is not interested in collaborating with other countries, making it important to approach any collaboration with eyes wide open.
  2. COVID-19 has brought significant changes to the relationship between the U.S. and China, with the pandemic highlighting the reliance on China for the U.S. supply chain. The future of their relationship is uncertain, but it will have global implications.
  3. The Chinese government allegedly hid information about the severity of the COVID-19 crisis, including warning individuals who spoke out about it. Investigations are ongoing to determine the origin of the virus, but recent reports suggest that the US government may have funded the Wuhan lab.
  4. The Chinese government's prioritization of image and control over public health led to a global pandemic that could have been avoided. The importance of acknowledging and addressing limitations and ideologies of authoritarian regimes for future prevention.
  5. The Trump administration redefined the US-China relationship by merging trade, security, and propaganda issues. The COVID-19 pandemic strained relations as the president blamed China, causing a setback. There is a consensus on the nature of the problem, but not how to handle it.
  6. It is important to thoroughly understand the motivations and goals of emerging global powers and engage with them cautiously to prevent unforeseen consequences.
  7. The US-China relationship was formed on an unrealistic assumption of China's modernization leading to liberalization. Offshoring led to efficiencies but left many behind, and the narrative failed to account for real changes in China's regime and goals.
  8. The US needs to recognize the need for greater vigilance in its relationship with China and reassess its policies in light of China's changing behavior, including acts of aggression.
  9. China's military activity in the South China Sea aims to counterbalance US power, as securing air-defense capabilities is a crucial component of maintaining their sovereignty claims. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted weaknesses in Communist Party's hold on power, resulting in a crackdown to prevent social upheaval.
  10. The pandemic has highlighted flaws in the Chinese government's handling of crises and exposed propaganda efforts. The U.S.'s lack of leadership has allowed China to fill the void, but Xi Jinping's grip on power remains strong for now.
  11. The U.S. government's lack of leadership during the pandemic has allowed China to benefit and has neglected the developing world, which poses a threat of a second wave. Multinational alliances and partnerships are crucial to an equitable response.
  12. International collaboration is necessary for addressing public health as a national security issue. Despite strained relationships between countries, offering solutions to others is a responsible global action that strengthens the fight against COVID-19.
  13. Investing in early detection, clear communication, and transparency, while addressing deficiencies in existing structures are crucial for planning and providing a robust public health infrastructure. A balanced approach towards US-China relations requires considering core national interests and countering China's propaganda campaigns.
  14. Communication, investment in military and infrastructure, and a trust but verify approach are crucial for a stable and productive relationship between the US and China.
  15. The US should hold China accountable for its behavior and communicate clearly while working towards a better relationship. Allies and partners should be involved, and the Indo-Pacific should not be defined by China alone. Trust and reciprocity are crucial.
  16. A potential re-election of Trump would lead to a tactical and transactional relationship with China, whereas a Biden administration would prioritize expertise and take a more thoughtful approach. Collaboration among experts from different fields is crucial for developing a solid China policy.
  17. Open and honest communication is necessary to avoid misunderstandings and dangerous scenarios between the U.S. and China. Both countries must work together to understand the potential consequences of their actions and build a stable relationship for the future.

📝 Podcast Notes

The Cost of China's Mishandling of COVID-19

The Chinese government's mishandling of the early COVID-19 crisis significantly increased the global implications and the price that every other country is paying in lives, livelihood, and economic terms. While China may not pay monetarily, it should pay politically, reputationally, and morally. However, it's important to be pragmatic and understand both the challenges and areas where it's in our interest to cooperate with China. The Communist Party is adversarial to our values and systems, but there are still opportunities for collaboration if they're willing to collaborate with us on things we care about. The evidence suggests that China is far less interested in collaborating with us than we hoped.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S.-China Relationship

The U.S.-China relationship has always been eventful but COVID-19 has amplified things. This pandemic has resulted in substantial changes regarding the relationship between the two countries and, in particular, has highlighted how much of the U.S. supply chain lies in China. The question is what happens next? Before COVID-19, the relationship between these two great powers was strained, but it has now escalated to the point that some experts think we could enter a cold war, or perhaps even something warmer than that. What is certain is that the U.S. government is trying to address the massive economic damage that COVID-19 has caused. How the U.S. and China approach this issue, moving forward, is likely to have profound ramifications for the world.

Chinese Government's Cover-Up of COVID-19 Crisis Revealed

Evidence is emerging that the Chinese government covered up the severity of the COVID-19 crisis, including the house arrests of those who warned about the outbreak. Document No. 3 went out to research institutes ordering them to destroy virological samples or send them to central repositories, while the government controlled social media to prevent the spread of information. The origin of the virus is believed to come from bats, either in the wet market in Wuhan or as laboratory test animals, but not man-made or brought in by the US military. Both intelligence and scientific inquiries are ongoing to determine the source of the outbreak. Recent reports suggest that the US government helped fund the Wuhan lab and that the lax security was warned about years ago.

The Consequences of Chinese Government's Lack of Transparency in COVID-19 Outbreak

The Chinese government's lack of transparency and failure to inform the WHO and their own people of the human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 resulted in a global pandemic that could have been avoided. The party prioritized their image and control over public health and safety, which is consistent with the nature of communist regimes. The true number of cases and deaths in China are likely to be higher than reported, and this lack of transparency undermines efforts to control the disease. In the future, it is important to acknowledge and address the limitations and ideology of authoritarian regimes in order for public health crises to be effectively managed and prevented.

The Shift in US-China Relations Under the Trump Administration and Beyond

The Trump administration inherited and shaped a shift in US-China relations that began during the Obama administration. The first era of US-China relations, which began with the normalization of relations in 1979, was at an end. Trump fused economic and trade positions, security issues, propaganda and influence issues to reassess the relationship with China. Bipartisan consensus exists on the nature of the problem with China, but there has been debate over how it's been handled. The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the issue further because the president blames China for poor actions. This has set back the relationship even further. China's behavior has changed over the past 15 or 20 years, causing a shift in views.

China's Changing Approach in Foreign Policy

The concept of hide-and-bide characterized China's approach in the second Obama term, where the country maintained a façade of being a peaceful rising power to the global community. However, President Xi's rise marked the beginning of a more assertive China, especially in contested areas like the South China Sea and in trade and technology. The United States played a role in China's integration into the global economy, with the belief that it would lead to a responsible stakeholder. However, this theory failed as China pursued a more nationalistic approach. The lesson here is that it is crucial to accurately assess the intentions of rising powers and cautiously engage with them to avoid unanticipated consequences.

The Pitfalls of the US-China Relationship

The US-China relationship was built on wishful thinking and a lack of due diligence. The assumption was that China's modernization would lead to liberalization and a growing middle class. However, this was never fully realized, and the US helped China to a much greater degree than expected. Offshoring and hollowing out of American industries created efficiencies and consumer prices but left many sectors of society behind. The US-China story was based on a narrative that was believed despite going sideways. The optimism of early détente carried over into the 1990s and early 2000s but failed to account for real changes in China's regime and goals.

The Need for a Reassessment of US Policies towards China

The United States has been a steady partner in China's transition towards greater prosperity and freedom, but the relationship has become complicated due to the sunk-cost fallacy and overestimation of their ability to change other countries. The policymakers across administrations underestimated the degree to which their policy towards China wasn't working and hung onto it for longer. Evidence of China's changing behavior, such as their militarization of the South China Sea, should have opened their eyes to the reality. It's time for the US to reassess its policies towards China and recognize the need for greater vigilance and assertiveness in the face of blatant transgressions and acts of aggression by China.

The South China Sea Conflict and China's Strategic Motivations

China's aggressive military activity in the disputed South China Sea is motivated by a desire to thwart U.S. power projection in the region. Despite potential rewards for cooperation, President Xi Jinping sees securing early air-defense capabilities as crucial to his long-term strategy to maintain Chinese sovereignty claims. The Covid-19 pandemic has weakened China's global image and exposed weaknesses in the Communist Party's hold on power. Xi was selected by the party to reassert control after the SARS epidemic in 2003. The party fears that incompetence and venality could cause social upheaval and job losses, hence their immediate crackdown in response to the pandemic.

China's pandemic response exposes cracks in Communist Party's rule

China's ruling Communist Party is at risk of losing its grip due to the pandemic, which has exposed real problems and cracks in the government's handling of the crisis. The party has resorted to doubling down on propaganda and rewriting history, even as governments around the world return useless medical equipment and tests. The Chinese leadership is also attempting to present itself as efficient and competent through P.P.E. diplomacy, despite its missteps. Meanwhile, the U.S. has ceded global leadership, allowing China to fill the void. As the world begins to see through China's propaganda, the party's reputation is at risk. However, Xi Jinping is not immediately at risk of losing his grip.

The Role of U.S. Leadership in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The United States' lack of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic has given China an opportunity to capitalize on their mishandling of the outbreak and rewrite history. The Trump administration's focus on bilateral transactional relationships over building multinational alliances and partnerships has resulted in neglect of the developing world, which poses a threat of a second wave spreading back to the United States. While efforts should be made to work with other technologically advanced nations to develop vaccines, the U.S. should also consider bringing some supply chains home and viewing public health as a matter of national security. Convening the G7 and G20 early on could have led to a more equitable and fair response to the global community.

Collaborating with Other Countries to Confront China's Actions

Collaboration with other countries is crucial for confronting China's actions, as it makes us stronger and more effective. The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the relationship between the US and China, reducing trust and increasing hostility. However, international cooperation is essential for addressing public health as a national security imperative. While China may have an advantage if they are first to develop a vaccine, their reputation for problematic equipment and variable quality may cause skepticism. The US should offer any solutions developed to China, as part of being a responsible global actor. It is important to establish a bipartisan or nonpartisan commission to assess the fault and work on changes.

Investing and planning for a robust public health infrastructure and balanced approach towards US-China relations.

Investing in a robust public health infrastructure is crucial, including early detection and monitoring of diseases, regional and state-level stockpiling, and on-shoring of critical supply chains. It is also important to prioritize planning, exercising, and providing clear communication, transparency, and accountability during crises. While it is tempting to create new government agencies, it is more effective to address deficiencies in existing structures and create a coherent interagency process. With regards to US-China relations, a balanced approach is necessary, looking to core national interests and questioning greater engagements. The current bipartisan consensus acknowledges great power competition with China, but it is important to consider how China perceives this relationship and to take measures to counter its propaganda campaigns and restrict access to sensitive areas such as universities.

Re-establishing trust and outlining core interests for a stable future between US and China.

As tensions between the US and China continue, experts suggest that reestablishing deterrence and clearly outlining core interests is crucial to moving forward. Investment in military capabilities and infrastructure is also important, along with attracting and retaining top talent from around the world. However, it's also crucial to communicate to China that the US won't base policy solely on what it's told and that trust must be earned. Re-establishing trust through a 'trust but verify' approach is necessary, particularly after cyber hacking incidents where the US was misled. Moving forward, it's important to focus on creating a stable and productive relationship between both nations.

Holding China Accountable and Building Stronger US-China Relations

The US needs to hold China accountable for its actions and demand reciprocity in the relationship. This can be done by adopting a two-strike rule, imposing costs for broken promises or bad behavior, and communicating clearly to Beijing. Allies and partners should be brought along to share interests and concerns about China's behavior. Our relationship with China should not be adversarial, but rather working towards a better point at the end of the road. The Indo-Pacific is not just China, and we should not allow them to define it as such. Straight-up politics aside, it is crucial to re-earn trust and demand equal treatment in the relationship.

The Future of US-China Relations in Trump or Biden Administration

If Trump is re-elected, the US-China relationship will continue to be tactical and transactional. A Biden administration, on the other hand, would value expertise and take a more deliberative and clear-eyed approach to China, connecting it to important areas of investment at home. The bipartisan nature of American foreign policy should be encouraged, with a focus on developing a new generation of China specialists. While it’s acceptable to have a transactional relationship with China, allies should not be treated in a similar manner. Bringing in experts from different fields such as diplomacy, defense, and development will be necessary in building a stronger China policy regardless of who wins the election.

The Importance of Open Dialogues in U.S.-China Relations

As tensions rise in U.S.-China relations, it's important to have candid conversations about potential misunderstandings between both countries. For example, China's military doctrine involves the use of cyberattacks on U.S. critical infrastructure and in space to stop U.S. power projection. However, this could result in unintended consequences, such as shutting down electricity to hospitals and causing American deaths. It's crucial to have dialogues with China to help them understand the potential consequences of their actions and prevent dangerous scenarios through mutual agreement. This approach can help prevent misunderstandings and build a more stable U.S.-China relationship.