Recent provocations in the South China Sea follow rising tensions between the US and China, but with rivalry expanding into the economic and political spheres, it seems Beijing is now encroaching on Russia’s top-villain status.
On Monday, the USS Decatur nearly collided with a Chinese destroyer sent to escort the US vessel operating in the South China Sea.
But naval maneuvers in the disputed waterway are just one element of the high stakes rivalry between Washington and Beijing. On the economic front, the Trump administration has slapped tariffs on $260 billion worth of Chinese goods and is now threatening to target practically all of China’s exports to the US.
Amid the open economic warfare and military provocations in the South China Sea, last week Trump levelled fresh accusations of political meddling against Beijing. Speaking before the UN Security Council, the US leader claimed that China was attempting to “interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” adding that his administration was being targeted because he was “the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
And Trump isn’t the only one in his administration pointing the finger at Beijing for sneaky, formerly exclusively-Russian antics. The president’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, said in a speech in September that China was targeting “state and local governments and officials.”
“It is trying to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy, and uses investments and other incentives to expand its influence,” Coats claimed.
With economic, political and military tensions between the two nations at an all-time high, and even accusations of meddling being hurled at Beijing (and not the time-honored villain, Russia), has China emerged as America’s new, terrifying arch nemesis?