The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2022

22 JULY-AUGUST 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL COVER STORY U.S.-CHINARELATIONS AT 50 LEARNING LESSONS AND MOVINGAHEAD I n its Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States (February 2022), the Biden administration highlighted mounting challenges in Asia, particularly as the People’s Republic of China “pursues a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and seeks to become the world’s most influential power.” The strategy document asserts: “From the economic coercion of Australia to the conflict along the Line of Actual Control with India to the growing pressure on Taiwan and bullying of neighbors in the East and South China Seas, our allies and partners in the region bear much of the cost of the PRC’s harmful behavior. In the process, the PRC is also under- Robert S. Wang, a retired Foreign Service officer, is a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. During a 32-year career with the Department of State, he served overseas in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taiwan and Beijing, where he was deputy chief of mission from 2011 to 2013. His last Foreign Service assignment before retiring in 2016 was as the U.S. senior official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (2013- 2015). He was a senior adviser at Covington & Burling LLP (2016- 2018) and a visiting fellow with the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2009-2010). A half-century of experience points to the need for stronger measures to address future challenges. BY ROBERT S . WANG mining human rights and international law, including freedom of navigation, as well as other principles that have brought stability and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific.” Meanwhile, in the wake of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Beijing abstained on the United Nations resolution condemn- ing the invasion, echoed Russia’s claims about U.S. and NATO responsibility for the crisis, and refused to join the United States and European Union in imposing economic sanctions on Rus- sia. In fact, after their meeting in Beijing earlier in the month, Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin announced that the two countries “oppose further enlargement of NATO” and “stand against the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region and remain highly vigilant about the negative impact of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy on peace and stability in the region.” Further, they “reaf- firm that the new inter-State relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era,” and that “there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.” Thus it appears that U.S.-China relations are at a critical stage as an increasingly powerful and authoritarian China has become more aggressive in pursuing its irredentist regional goals in alli- ance with Putin’s Russia, which not only threatens U.S. democratic allies and partners in Asia but could also undermine the rules and values of the U.S.-led liberal international order across the globe.