From Partner to foes? The changing U.S.-China relationship in the post pandemic world.

- by Prof. Brahma Chellaney

The Wuhan-originating COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a tectonic shift in the U.S.-China relationship. Meanwhile, given the international pushback against it, China can no longer discount the specter of international isolation and supply disruptions, which may explain Chinese President Xi Jinping’s new strategy of “dual circulation,” with its emphasis on domestic demand. This paper discusses the modalities even further with the title being "From Partner to foes? The changing U.S.-China relationship in the post pandemic world"

Ties between the United States and China constitute the world’s most-important relationship, one that affects almost every aspect of international relations — from peace and security to trade and climate-change challenges. The U.S.-China relationship was already undergoing transformation before the China- originating COVID-19 virus created a paralyzing global pandemic. The pandemic appears to be accelerating that transformation. That relationship today is undergoing fundamental change that holds long-term implications for power equilibrium, stability and security.


China’s aggressive expansionism is driving even distant powers like Germany, France and Britain to view a pluralistic, rules-based Indo-Pacific as central to international security. The European Union is finally waking up to the China challenge, although it needs to more closely integrate economic ties with China in its political strategy and to focus on the Indo-Pacific beyond trade and investment.


China, however, remains very vulnerable to U.S.-led trade actions, given its heavy dependence on the U.S. and its allies for semiconductors and other high-end products. The U.S.-led squeeze on Huawei shows that.


U.S. policymakers, however, need to address one issue — their policies have counterproductively fostered an expanding partnership between Russia and China. If left unaddressed, the growing Sino-Russian alliance could crimp U.S. policy’s paradigm shift on China.


Peter Rimmele