Carl Zha: US-China Conflict Deeply Rooted
TEHRAN (FNA)- Carl Zha, radio host and journalist, says the quarrel between Washington and Beijing is structural and not limited to a particular US president.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Zha said, “As China's economy develops, US companies will have to pay more for Chinese labor, which depresses their profits from offshoring manufacturing to China... As China's military develops, the US will find it more difficult to maintain simultaneous military primacy in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia.”
He underlined the US increases its military presence in Asia in a bet to compensate its weak economic relations with the region, and added, “The US has been increasing its military presence in Asia since the 2008/09 Great Financial Crisis… the US needs to lean more heavily on its military advantage to maintain relevance with Asian countries.”
Carl Zha is an engineer, historian and podcaster. He hosts a weekly radio program discussing history, culture and current events of China and the Silk Road.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: The new US Administration has reversed many of Trump’s policies. Why has China remained an issue to the US?
A: China has remained an issue for the US because the economic and military drivers of the US-China conflict are structural and independent of any presidents or parties. As China's economy develops, US companies will have to pay more for Chinese labor, which depresses their profits from offshoring manufacturing to China, while facing growing competition from increasingly proficient Chinese firms both in China's market and abroad. As China's military develops, the US will find it more difficult to maintain simultaneous military primacy in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, which decreases the leverage the US has to maintain its petrodollar trading system.
Q: The Trump Administration widened US military buildup and operations in the South China Sea. Why does it continue under Biden?
A: It is mainly aimed at convincing Asian countries that the US still has the power advantage in the region, and they should stick with the US and not convert to China (as several countries in Southeast Asia have done) or be neutral (as South Korea has become). The US has been increasing its military presence in Asia since the 2008/09 Great Financial Crisis because the GFC and its aftereffects caused Asia's economy to become increasingly China-centered, so the US needs to lean more heavily on its military advantage to maintain relevance with Asian countries.
Q: The US continues to diplomatically contact Taiwan, and increases arms sale to the island. What is significant in the US-Taiwan relations?
A: The US wants to use Taiwan for three things: first, to constrain Chinese naval ambitions by bottling up Chinese forces within the first island chain (stretching from Japan, through Ryukyu, to Taiwan, the Philippines, and then Indonesia); second, to depress the profits and R&D effectiveness of Chinese tech firms by restricting their access to cutting-edge semiconductor fabrication capabilities; and third, the US wishes to demonstrate to other Asian countries that the US is still the regional hegemon by forcing China to accept de facto US suzerainty on an island 180km from China and which is nominally Chinese territory.