Straits Times webinar to discuss stormy relationship between US and China


Joe Biden, who was then US Vice-President, with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in this file picture from Dec 4, 2013. - Reuters

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): When US President Joe Biden took office in January, there were hopes that the US and China would patch up their relationship, soured under former president Donald Trump. But more than four months into Biden's presidency, the fall-out continues.

Not only did Biden maintain the Trump-era sanctions on Chinese companies, but he also imposed more sanctions on two dozen officials in Hong Kong and China, including a Politburo member, over their involvement in the suppression of pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong.

Biden's administration has kept pace with the frequency in which its predecessor sent navy vessels to Asia. It has also invested in the Quad -- a security alliance with Japan, India and Australia -- returning it to prominence.

His administration is also seen to be continuing to forge stronger ties with Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway province. Beijing has since warned that the "one China" principle is China's red line and no one should try to cross it.

Even as the world's two largest economies compete for technological supremacy, Washington's sanctions have pushed Beijing to cut its reliance on US suppliers and boost its semiconductor sector.

To probe the pressure points in the relationship that is closely watched in South-east Asia, The Straits Times will host a webinar on May 25.

Joining the discussion are our US and China correspondents, Charissa Yong and Danson Cheong, both of whom have covered the developments intensively as they unfold. They are also the main writers for the Power Play column published every Monday.

The webinar -- the second in the monthly ST Connect series -- will be moderated by The Straits Times foreign editor Bhagyashree Garekar.

Biden's more predictable, less irrational policies in dealing with China will at least slow down the worsening trend in bilateral relations, and that is generally welcome news to South-east Asia, which has been careful to avoid picking sides.

His re-engagement in the region, neglected by Trump, could also serve as an effective counterweight to China's growing influence.

Still, a clash of the two superpowers -- over defence, trade, technology and ideology -- remains a source of worry as it would upend the stability of the region and its systems altogether. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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