As tensions between the United States and China heat up, world leaders call for unity | News

Antagonisms between the United States and China are rocking governments around the world, prompting a German official to warn of the “Cold War 2.0” and the President of Kenya to call for unity to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

World trade was already depressed by the two-year tariff war between the world’s two largest economies. That grudge has spread to include Hong Kong, Chinese Muslim minorities, allegations of espionage, and control of the South China Sea.

Caught in the middle, other governments are trying to defend their own interests.


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government wants to preserve trade and cooperation on global warming, but says a security law that tightens Beijing’s control over Hong Kong is a “difficult issue.”

The possible breakdown of Hong Kong’s security law from the autonomy that Beijing promised the former British colony is no reason to stop talking, but it is “a worrying development,” Merkel said.

Europe’s largest economy has yet to take a final position on Chinese tech giant Huawei despite pressure from the United States to exclude its equipment from next-generation telecommunications networks as a possible security risk.

“China is an important partner for us, but also a competitor,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement after a video conference on Friday with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

China trade

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to preserve trade and cooperation on global warming, but sees China’s security law in Hong Kong as “a worrying development” [File: Michael Sohn/AP Photo]

Peter Beyer, the German government’s transatlantic cooperation coordinator, expressed alarm in an interview with the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group.

“We are experiencing the beginning of a Cold War 2.0,” said Beyer. He criticized both sides, but said: “The United States is our most important partner outside the EU, and this is how it will stay.”


President Emmanuel Macron has called the President of the United States, Donald Trump, “my friend,” but he is trying to avoid disturbing Beijing.

China is an important partner for us but also a competitor.

Heiko Maas German Foreign Minister

France has not echoed Trump’s criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus, but French lawmakers applauded Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last week when he condemned abuses by minority Uighurs in northwest China.

Le Drian mentioned “mass arrests, disappearances, forced labor, forced sterilizations, the destruction of the Uighur cultural heritage.” He said France has asked for the fields to be closed.

France United States Flags

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last week condemned abuses of minority Uighurs in northwest China [File: Virginia Mayo/AP Photo]

“All these practices are unacceptable,” said the minister. “We condemn them.”

Trump’s ambivalence towards American allies and noncompliance with diplomatic rules has alarmed France.

“Sino-American tensions do not benefit France,” said Valerie Niquet of the Foundation for Strategic Research, a group of experts. “We share the same interests as the United States with China, we adopt more or less the same positions, so it does not bring us any positive element.”

European Union

Europe’s “strategic relations” with China will be a problem for the European Union, while Germany occupies the rotating presidency of the 27-nation bloc, Merkel said this month.

EU foreign ministers have been unable to agree on a common position on China.

Sino-American tensions do not benefit France.

Valerie Niquet, Foundation for Strategic Research

Regarding Hong Kong, options include more detailed scrutiny of territory-sensitive technology exports and changes in visa policies for its residents. But there is no talk of economic sanctions or of targeting Chinese officials with sanctions.

“The message is that recent actions change the rules,” said EU chief foreign policy official Josep Borrell. “This will require a review of our approach and will clearly have an impact on our relationships.”

South Korea

South Korea is under pressure between its main military ally and its largest trading partner.

In 2016, Beijing destroyed supermarket business operator Lotte in China after the conglomerate sold a parcel of land in South Korea to the government for an anti-missile system on Chinese objections.

USA South Korea

United States President Donald Trump flanked by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) in 2017 [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

Washington is unhappy with South Korea’s desire to ease sanctions on North Korea to encourage disarmament and is uncomfortable with the use of Huawei technology.

Trump is complaining about the cost of stationing 28,500 US soldiers in South Korea to guard against threats from North Korea. A cost-sharing agreement expired in 2019 without a replacement.

The dispute between the United States and China “has thrown a question at South Korea” on which side to choose, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial on Monday.

“Sooner or later we will be forced to give an answer, no matter how hard we try to avoid it,” the newspaper said.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to embrace both Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump, but the pandemic and a border clash that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers have fueled anti-Chinese sentiment.

Protesters have called for boycotts of Chinese goods and burned Chinese flags. They applauded the government’s ban on the popular Chinese video-sharing app TikTok and some other Chinese apps.

We are not going to fight coronavirus if one country fails and another succeeds.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Washington wants stronger ties to India and supported its controversial move a year ago to divide its only Muslim-majority state, the restless Jammu and Kashmir, into two territories controlled by the federal government. This month, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the United States would face China in the Indian border dispute.

“For India, it is appropriate for the United States to apply more pressure on China, and if it gets it to behave, that would be well received by the entire neighborhood,” said Jayadeva Ranade, president of the China Center for Analysis and Strategy. -tank in New Delhi.


Tensions between China and the United States are taking their toll. The African Development Bank said last year that disruption of trade due to the tariff war could lead to a 2.5 percent drop in economic output in some African countries.

For India, it is appropriate that the United States apply more pressure on China.

Jayadeva Ranade, President, China Analysis and Strategy Center

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said political disputes should be set aside to better combat the coronavirus.

“Let’s not be sucked back into isolationism or unilateralism. We need each other today more than ever, ”Kenyatta said at an Atlantic Council event last month. “We are not going to fight coronavirus if one country fails and another succeeds.”

Southeast Asia

The Association of 10 Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has avoided taking measures that would alienate either Washington or Beijing, both major trading partners.

Chinese flag

Philippine presidential candidate Elly Pamatong burns a Chinese flag in Manila on December 4, 2015, to denounce island construction in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. [File: Bullit Marquez/AP Photo]

“The great powers, as their rivalry increases, will draw us to their side,” said Harry Roque, spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. “We will promote our national interest.”

The region’s most sensitive conflict, control over the South China Sea, intensified when the Trump administration publicly rejected most of Beijing’s claims about one of the world’s busiest waterways.

“We are making it clear: Beijing’s claims of offshore resources in most of the South China Sea are completely illegal,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a July 13 statement.

The Philippines and Vietnam, among the most critical critics of Chinese assertiveness, could benefit from that stance, but will act cautiously, said Greg Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“They’re not going to stick their necks in a rope until they see a real follow-up to Washington,” Poling said.