With voicing support for Taiwan currently on trend in US politics, the pressure is on Nancy Pelosi to make her proposed visit to the island. Yet while little would be lost by her not going – Beijing was never going to change its mind about reunification anyway – the risks to regional security are huge if she pushes ahead.
Since the establishment of the highest civilian honour in the US, only 11 Asian-Americans have been chosen among almost 700 recipients. Addressing this underrepresentation would be a meaningful way for Biden to show he is sincere when he says he cares about Asian-Americans.
In a few decades, US mass shootings have gone from near unheard-of to tragically common, while politicians point the finger and meaningful gun control measures remain elusive. Those same politicians boast of America’s superiority to China, yet Chinese pupils do not fear going to school and never coming back.
For all Biden’s talk of representing everyone, his pick of Ketanji Brown Jackson leaves Asian-Americans on the outside looking in. The bipartisan exclusion of Asian-Americans from high government offices suggests there are greater barriers limiting their opportunities.
On the 50th anniversary of the historic visit, it is tempting to view the US-China relationship with apprehension, amid tensions over human rights and trade. Looking back, however, nearly every milestone anniversary of Nixon’s visit appeared similarly fraught, and yet the relationship has managed to endure.
The US president has made it clear he wants to compete with China, but while his rhetoric has united Democrats and Republicans, it has done little else. With no China expertise within his team or any chance to meet Xi face to face, Biden’s China policy is suffering and his window of opportunity narrowing.
There seems little hope the US-China relationship will improve significantly as the two drift further apart. If this continues, the next generation of US and China policymakers will have even less nuanced understandings and experience in dealing with their counterparts.
While the British-led forces held out for less time than London had hoped, the resistance was stronger than Tokyo planned. The horrors of war are hard to reconcile with some uncharacteristic acts of generosity by the commander of the Japanese forces.
In reviewing history, the Communist Party made no mention of the collapse of KMT rule after the civil war. But, for Beijing, the blunders and character flaws that culminated in the Nationalists’ defeat in the civil war could be more instructive than the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Promoting effective engagement is more important than ever as face-to-face meetings between Xi and Biden look increasingly unlikely. Bellicose rhetoric won’t help promote smoother US-China engagement, which is what ambassadors should be focused on.
When the Schadenfreude over this moment of US defeat wears off, China will see that neither America’s withdrawal nor Taliban’s resurgence are in its best interest. And although Chinese officials have been engaging the Taliban, the Islamist group makes for a strange partner.
Germany and China have reached an understanding that should outlast Merkel’s tenure. Berlin can press Beijing on human rights, without hurting trade relations, while China will also maintain the status quo and not use economic coercion.
The US could be signalling a return to diplomacy, with the rumoured choice of a diplomat with Nato experience for ambassador to China. However, the likely replacement for Beijing’s man in Washington suggests wolf warrior diplomacy may be here to stay.
The ugly reality is that many Americans are prejudiced. The past year has made it abundantly clear how difficult it is for Asians like me to feel they belong in the US, no matter how long they have lived here.
The US president has underestimated the complexities of outcompeting China and overestimated allies’ capacity to recommit to US leadership. Moreover, Congress remains deadlocked, economic recovery is uncertain and Donald Trump could seek the presidency again in 2024.
The top Chinese diplomat speaks fluent English, but the US Secretary of State does not speak Chinese. Their meeting in Alaska highlights a US-China gap. It is worrying that as the US and China move towards a “new cold war”, the next generation of US policymakers may be even less well-informed about China.
America’s decline has happened over a longer period than just Trump’s four-year term, and it will take far longer to reverse it. The country seems to be facing a profound identity crisis and an ideological divide more bitter and irreconcilable than ever in recent memory.
What separates Biden from his predecessors are the intricacies of his character and career, which make him uniquely qualified to handle these extraordinary times defined by calls for unity and justice, healing and retribution, a return to normalcy and radical change.
Even in the face of such unprecedented unrest within the very heart of America’s democracy, its elected representatives resolved to fulfil their constitutional duties and affirm the will of the people.
The museum has once again become intertwined with a larger political and emotional conversation about Taiwanese identity, the legacy of the martial law era and the future of the island.
Asian-American voters strongly supported Biden even though neither political party actively reached out to them. Now is the time for the president-elect to recognise that loyalty and include more Asian-Americans in his governing team.
Despite his declared friendship with Xi Jinping, a look at the US president-elect’s career in Congress shows he has a deep background as a China hawk. Biden is likely to conduct the US-China relationship with more composure than his predecessor, but the bombast of the Trump era will not go away completely.
In the past century, the US presidency has gone through periods of uncertainty, but the institution has always persevered. Faith in the presidency may wax and wane, but one thing is certain: Americans will have the chance to vote again.
A lack of interest in courting the Asian vote has been disappointing, and out of proportion with the impact it wields in swing states. It’s up to Asians themselves to step up their political engagement, not just by voting, but also seeking office.
Pompeo’s rhetoric is aimed at the American public, rather than building relations with foreign nations or advancing US interests abroad. In a globalised society, the effects of foreign policy decisions on security and the economy cannot be understated.
The departure of Branstad, whose ties with Xi Jinping go back to the 1980s, may signal the end of personal diplomacy. And, with US-China relations cooling, his successor is likely to hold more hawkish views.
Decades of China engagement failed, according to Pompeo, because China did not liberalise as US leaders had anticipated. However, Nixon’s opening to China in 1972 had nothing to do with spreading democracy but was entirely about gaining the upper hand in the Cold War.
As the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the world and the US-China relationship deteriorates, we should take heart from the fact that the Sino-Japanese War eventually ended and, at one time, the US and China were fierce allies.
Considering how Asian-Americans are increasingly part of the social and political conversation, their lack of representation in mass media is jarring. It remains to be seen whether the reckoning on racial relations will extend to the diverse Asian population.
The finessed language of diplomacy has given way to hashtags and zingers between US State Department hawks and China’s ‘wolf warriors’. But diplomacy rarely succeeds when executed over a microphone.