Constructive communication between the United States and China becomes more difficult

At the start of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency, many hoped that relations between the United States and China, after four years of hard work, would slowly begin to improve. It was not the case.

“The one thing that’s stood up from Trump to Biden is that the United States is doing a bad job of talking to our own people about China,” Alan Bersin, executive chairman of supply chain software Altana AI and former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said last week during a discussion on the policy forum DealBook DC.

The communication breakdown between the two countries is bad for diplomacy and for the economy, but some experts say a tough message to China is needed. Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, who also participated in the discussion at the forum, said there was an overall bipartisan agreement on China issues that does not exist in other areas. “We have to deal with a Chinese regime that tells us every day that it’s not just going to take our lunch, but the whole global economy,” Mr Casey said.

Later this month, the US and China could face another looming threat to their already strained relationship: a US law will come into effect that will likely ban most imports from China’s Xinjiang province, home to much of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. population and source of forced labor accusations. China has denied the allegations and pledged to retaliate if US law is enforced. Mr Bersin said there was general uncertainty from both the American private sector and the Chinese about what might happen then.

Travel restrictions at the start of the pandemic made maintaining the relationship almost impossible, and the US position in China grew steadily worse due to misinformation being spread in the US about the coronavirus. “Being accused by some US lawmakers of deliberately unleashing a deadly virus on its own population to infect the West, which is obviously ridiculous, has shattered the once positive image of the US for the average Chinese citizen,” said Robert Daly, the Kissinger Institute director on China and the United States. “All they hear from us is bad, simplistic Chinese rhetoric.”

The answer to start mending the relationship between the two world powers is to try to create a dialogue between the average Chinese citizen and the average American, said Bonny Lin, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. . “There is very little interaction between the two populations at this time,” she said.

His proposal: The US government should fund US-centric Chinese-language media that could give Chinese citizens a more complete picture of what is being said about China in America. Even though it was censored in China, the show could be viewed by some Chinese citizens when traveling abroad.

Cheng Li, a scholar-in-residence at the Brookings Institution who studies the Chinese middle class, backed the proposal, saying, “The Chinese middle class wants to engage with the United States, and many Chinese citizens are educated in the United States. United “.

But while encouraging more conversations between America and Beijing may be a good thing overall, some worry that opening up channels of communication could leave Americans vulnerable to Chinese government-sponsored disinformation campaigns. Renée DiResta, head of research at the Stanford Internet Observatory, said that while Chinese disinformation campaigns weren’t as active as Russia’s, China had engaged in similar attempts to use fake social media accounts to influence American public opinion.

Speakers: Bob Casey, U.S. senator (D-Pa.); Bonny Lin, Director of the China Power Project and Senior Fellow for Asian Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia, US Chamber of Commerce; Renée DiResta, technical research manager, Stanford Internet Observatory; Cheng Li, Director of the John L. Thornton China Center and Senior Foreign Policy Fellow, Brookings Institution; Robert Daly, Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, The Wilson Center; Alan Bersin, Executive Chairman, Altana AI; Jonathan Gold, Vice President, Supply Chain and Customs Policy, National Retail Federation.

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Post expires at 8:13pm on Monday June 27th, 2022