US – China Relations

  • Beijing has announced plans for a permanent platform that it hopes will be operational by 2022
  • Jim Bridenstine says US must maintain presence in Earth’s orbit after ISS is decommissioned so Asian superpower does not gain strategic advantage

South China Morning Post
Date: 24 Sep, 2020
By: Agence France-Presse

A radar image of China’s Tiangong-1 space station, which ceased operation in 2018. Beijing has announced plans for a permanent space station by 2022. Image: Fraunhofer Institute FHR via AP

Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine told lawmakers on Wednesday it was crucial for the US to maintain a presence in Earth’s orbit after the International Space Station is decommissioned so that China does not gain a strategic advantage.

The first parts of the ISS were launched in 1998 and it has been continuously lived in since 2000.

The station, which serves as a space science lab and is a partnership between the US, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada, is currently expected to be operated until 2030.

“I’ll tell you one thing that has me very concerned – and that is that a day is coming when the International Space Station comes to the end of its useful life,” Bridenstine said.

What the Tiangong-1 space station meant for China’s ambitions

“In order to be able to have the United States of America have a presence in low Earth orbit, we have to be prepared for what comes next,” he added.

To that end, Nasa has requested US$150 million for the 2021 financial year to help develop the commercialisation of low Earth orbit, defined as 2,000km (1,200 miles) or less from the planet’s surface.

“We want to see a public-private partnership where Nasa can deal with commercial space station providers, so that we can keep a permanent uninterrupted human presence in low Earth orbit,” Bridenstine said.

“I don’t think it’s in the interest of the nation to build another International Space Station – I do think it’s in the interest of the nation to support commercial industry, where Nasa is a customer.”   

Date: September 23, 2020
By: Emily Feng

Veronaa/Getty Images

Polls show widespread distrust toward China is growing in the U.S. over how China initially handled its coronavirus outbreak and ongoing human rights abuses.

At the same time, Chinese attitudes toward the U.S. are souring — while popular satisfaction with the Chinese state has grown since the central government quickly brought the pandemic under control through sometimes brutal methods.

These recent trends in public sentiment run parallel to a dramatic deterioration in U.S.-China relations, as nationalistic officials in each government play on popular fears and perceptions.

U.S. levels of anxiety about China are at historic highs. The latest Pew Research poll, from July, found 73% of American respondents have negative attitudes toward China — the highest percentage since Pew began collecting such data in 2005, when 35% reported negative attitudes toward China. In the July poll, 78% of respondents said they put "a great deal or fair amount of the blame" for the coronavirus pandemic on how China initially handled the first outbreak.

Negative U.S. opinion extends to Chinese business as well. An August poll of 2,200 American adults led by Morning Consult, a data intelligence firm, found more than half of respondents "saw China as a 'major threat' to America's technology and innovation dominance, making it the country with the highest-perceived threat level of any other listed in the survey." Nearly two-thirds of respondents were "very" or "somewhat concerned" by the prospect of a Chinese company operating social media apps and 77% expressed doubt that a Chinese company would protect data security.

In China, though, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have solidified public approval for the government — even after an early outpouring of public anger. "Surprisingly, [the coronavirus epidemic] actually increased people's satisfaction and support for their government," says Cary Wu, a sociology professor at Canada's York University who studies public opinion.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: September 24, 2020
By: Hira Humayun and Zamira Rahim, CNN

(CNN)China's Ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that the US has "created enough troubles for the world already" as the two6/ nations continued to spar over the coronavirus pandemic during a tense meeting of the UN Security Council.

US Representative to the UN Kelly Craft criticized China over what she said was a "decision to hide the origins of this virus, minimize its danger, and suppress scientific cooperation." Craft claimed Beijing's actions "transformed a local epidemic into a global pandemic."

China's Zhang Jun swiftly rejected Craft's characterization of events.

"I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already," Zhang said.

"Regrettably, we have once again heard noises from the US that are so at odds with the atmosphere of the meeting."

Contrast couldn't be greater between Trump and Xi at the UN, but Chinese leader is the true authoritarian

Zhang added that Beijing rejected the "baseless" accusations.

The spat came two days after US President Donald Trump used much of his pre-recorded video address to the General Assembly to blame China for the Covid-19 pandemic and for withholding information about the virus.

On Tuesday, Trump accused Beijing of "allowing flights to leave China and infect the world" and referred to Covid-19 as the "China virus" on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Zhang said the US had only itself to blame. Since January, the US has diagnosed more than 6 million coronavirus cases in its population, and lost more than 200,000 lives to the illness.

The Russian representative at the Thursday session also criticized Craft's accusations.

"We regret the fact that the representative of the United States chose this meeting and the platform of the UN Security Council to make unfounded accusation against one of the members of the Security Council," said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: August 24, 2020

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that the world’s second-biggest economy is facing a period of ‘turbulent change’ and that rising external markets risk required policymakers to increasingly rely on domestic demand to spur growth.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Xi, chairing a seminar on Monday with a group of policy advisors and state economists, discussed the country’s mid- to long-term economic trends in preparation for the drafting of the 14th Five-year plan.

The five-yearly economic blueprint is expected to be unveiled in the annual parliament meeting next year, and Xi said China must be prepared for “a period of turbulent change” as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated protectionism, hammered the world economy and disrupted supply chains.

“In the coming period, we will face more and more headwinds in the external environment, and we must be prepared to deal with a series of new risks and challenges,” he said, according to comments released by state news agency Xinhua late Monday night.

Xi said the domestic market will “dominate the national economic cycle” in the future, but vowed to further open up China’s economy.

While Xi didn’t make direct references to intensifying U.S.-China tensions, he signaled China’s willingness to work on issues with the United States.

“We must actively cooperate with all countries, regions and enterprises who are willing to cooperate with us, including states, localities and enterprises in the United States,” he said.

Date: Aug 5 2020
By: Yen Nee Lee


  • China’s top diplomat has called out the U.S. for attempting to start a new Cold War between the two largest economies, and in the process plunging the world into “chaos and division.”
  • Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told state media Xinhua News Agency that China is not the former Soviet Union and has “no intention of becoming another United States.”
  • Wang said relations between the two countries are “facing the gravest challenge since the establishment of diplomatic ties” and blamed the U.S. for that deterioration.

Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News | Getty Images\

China’s top diplomat has called out the U.S. for attempting to start a new Cold War between the two largest economies, and in the process plunging the world into “chaos and division.”

In an interview with state media Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “today’s China is not the former Soviet Union.” He added that his country has “no intention of becoming another United States.”

“We have no intention of becoming another United States. China does not export ideology, and never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs,” he said.    [FULL  STORY]

The Trump administration wants to keep other countries from weaponizing technology the way the U.S. and its allies already have.

The Intercept
Date: August 6 2020
By: Sam Biddle

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AFP via Getty Images

THE STATE DEPARTMENT has a new vision for a “clean” internet, by which it means a China-free internet. This new ethno-exclusive network “is the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to guarding our citizens’ privacy and our companies’ most sensitive information,” by ensuring that China won’t be able to do a litany of subversive and violative things with technology that the U.S. and its allies have engaged in for years. As a policy document it’s nonsensical, but as a moral document, a piece of codified hypocrisy, it’s crystal clear: If there’s going to be a world-spanning surveillance state, it better be made in the USA.

A statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo includes a five-pronged plan for beating back Red China’s attempts to siphon and abuse your data: Working to keep Chinese phone carriers (presumably compromised by Beijing) out of U.S. markets, to have privacy-violating Chinese apps kicked off American app stores, to remove U.S. apps from app stores run by Chinese companies, to keep U.S. citizens’ data off of Chinese cloud servers “accessible to our foreign adversaries,” and to ensure that the undersea cables that ferry internet signals between continents aren’t secretly tapped by eavesdropping Chinese intelligence services.

The real question, even more than how could any of this practically be accomplished by State Department diktat, is: Why should anyone in the world take the initiative seriously? How can any network fondled for decades by American spy agencies be considered clean? The absolute gall of the United States in condemning “apps [that] threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation” is just slightly too stunning to be laughable. Without exception, the United States engages in every one of these practices and violates every single one of these bullet pointed virtues of a Clean Internet. Where do we get off?    [FULL  STORY]

China says they’ve never participated in cybersecurity theft, DOJ indicted Chinese government-backed hackers last week

Fox News
Date: August 1, 2020
By: Caitlin McFall 

.Hackers backed by the Chinese government attempted to steal coronavirus vaccination data from US-based biotech company, Moderna Inc., a U.S. security official tracking Chinese hacking revealed in an exclusive Reuters report Friday.

China pushed back on this accusation and said, “Such allegations are pure slander.”

“Recently so-called sources from the US government have been accusing China of hacking to steal technology and data of U.S. vaccine research, but there has been no evidence whatsoever,” Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a press conference Friday.

Webin pointed to the fact that the intelligence sources were all anonymous.

“The international community can see through such vilifying ploys,” he said.

Why cool heads must prevail

The Economist
Date; Aug 1st 2020

In a book of essays called “The Next Great War?”, which examines Sino-American relations through the lens of the first world war, Richard Rosecrance warns of “the tyranny of small things”, the points of friction and misunderstanding between rival powers that, without leadership to manage them, can lead to conflict. China and America today are not about to take up arms, but small things are rapidly accumulating. The two distrust each other more now than at any point since Richard Nixon went to China almost 50 years ago. As a presidential election draws near, the potential for dangerous miscalculation is growing.

On July 27th America’s consulate in Chengdu closed on orders from Beijing. It was in retaliation for the Trump administration’s order, a week earlier, to close China’s consulate in Houston, the first such moves since the normalisation of relations in 1979. This capped a month in which America sanctioned a sitting member of China’s Politburo, also a first, over the internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang; declared China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea illegal; ceased to recognise Hong Kong as distinct from mainland China; and claimed a victory in its campaign against Huawei, when Britain announced that it would bar the telecoms-equipment giant from its 5g networks.

For the hawks who surround President Donald Trump, this is overdue. In a series of four speeches that evoked the cold war, they laid out their case for abandoning “blind engagement” with China for a more confrontational relationship. On June 26th Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, said that Xi Jinping, China’s president, “sees himself as Josef Stalin’s successor”. On July 7th Christopher Wray, the fbi director, claimed that China was seeking to become “the world’s only superpower by any means necessary”, and warned of its extensive efforts to spy on, influence and co-opt Americans. On July 17th William Barr, the attorney-general, charged that Hollywood studios and America’s tech giants had become “pawns of Chinese influence”. And on July 23rd Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, declared that Mr Xi was engaged in a decades-long battle for global supremacy, and that America and other democracies must fight back.    [FULL  STORY]

The decision to close China’s diplomatic outpost in Houston appears to have deterred further meddling in America’s COVID-19 vaccine research – but not before the U.S. paid a price.

U.S. News and World Report
Date: July 31, 2020
By: Paul D. Shinkman, Senior Writer, National Security 

The Chinese flag flies at the Chinese consulate, July 22, 2020, in Houston, Texas.(MARK FELIX/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

CHINA'S ESPIONAGE effort to recruit American scientists and steal U.S. medical research using its consulate in Houston succeeded in its partial goal of slowing down the U.S. ability to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report, which also assesses that Beijing does not appear interested in escalating the incident – at least for now – after the Trump administration shuttered the diplomatic outpost last week.

The consulate in Houston had become a central hub for collecting and analyzing information on biomedical research that Chinese spies were stealing and procuring in a broader attempt to obtain federally funded research, according to a source familiar with the assessment who spoke with U.S. News on the condition of anonymity. The campaign to steal information not only benefited China's own attempts to develop a vaccine to the coronavirus, but it undermined U.S. efforts to reach that monumental breakthrough by potentially corrupting its existing data.    [FULL  STORY]

Juan Tang is accu6sed of lying about links to China military, amid tensions between Washington and Beijing after US orders Houston consulate to close

The Guardian
Date: 22 Jul 2020
By: Julian Borger in Washington

A Chinese researcher is in the San Francisco consulate amid FBI claims she lied about links to China’s military. Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

A Chinese researcher charged with lying to the FBI about her military affiliation has taken refuge in China’s San Francisco consulate, according to court documents, further escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The standoff in San Francisco comes at the same time the US ordered the closure of China’s Houston consulate, on grounds of involvement in theft of “American intellectual property and private information”.

China called the closure “unprecedented” and an “outrageous” escalation, and threatened retaliation, with state media putting out a poll asking which US consulates should be closed.

Donald Trump said in response to a question at a Wednesday night briefing that the closure of more consulates was “always possible”.

The researcher, Juan Tang, is named in a prosecutorial memo filed on Monday at the federal district court in San Francisco calling for the continued detention of another Chinese researcher at Stanford who is also charged with lying about links to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on her visa application.

Tang is accused of claiming never to have served in the PLA on her visa application, when an open-source investigation allegedly unearthed a picture of her in the uniform of the PLA’s civilian cadre and further evidence she had been a researcher for the Air Force Military Medical University. In an interview with the FBI on 20 June, according to the document, she claimed not to recognise the insignia on the uniform she is wearing in the photo.

“That same day, FBI executed a search warrant of Tang’s residence, and a search of her electronic media found further evidence of Tang’s PLA affiliation,” the memo, first reported by the Axios news site, said. “The FBI assesses that at some point following the search and interview of Tang on June 29, 2020, Tang went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where the FBI assesses she has remained.”    [FULL  STORY]