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  • By The Financial District

Ex-Aussie PM Sees U.S., China Easing Tensions, Managing Rivalry

The competition between the United States and China has heated up since President Joe Biden took office. Rather than abandoning ex-President Donald Trump's tough stance toward China, Biden has maintained it, and the two countries are virtually definitely headed for a protracted period of militarily perilous strategic rivalry.


Photo Insert: Ex-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd



But it doesn't imply the US and China are inexorably heading toward a crisis, escalation, confrontation, or even war, argued former Australian Prime Minister and now Asia Society president Kevin Rudd in Foreign Affairs on July 21, 2022.


On the contrary, Beijing and Washington may be stumbling toward a new set of stabilizing agreements that might lessen, but not eliminate, the potential of unexpected escalation.



Assessing the condition of US-Chinese relations at any particular time is difficult due to the difficulties of distinguishing between what each side says publicly about the other—often for domestic political effect—and what each is actually doing behind the scenes.


Despite the harsh and frequently inflammatory rhetoric, some early signals of stabilization have surfaced, such as the tentative restoration of a type of political and security dialogue aimed at reducing tensions.


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

Normalization, which would imply resuming broad political, economic, and global participation, falls short of such stabilization. The days of normalcy are long gone. However, stability would be significant. It would signify the difference between strategic rivalry that is managed by steady guardrails and mismanaged competition, which is driven by a process of push and shove, principally by each country's military, in the hope that no one pushes too far on any one day.


Government & politics: Politicians, government officials and delegates standing in front of their country flags in a political event in the financial district.

The challenge for both sides, as well as the countries caught up in this epic war for the future of regional and global orders, is what form of strategic competition they will pursue.


China measures its standing in relation to the US using zonghe guoli, or "comprehensive national power." Zonghe guoli considers China's military, economic, and technological capabilities in comparison to the United States and its allies, as well as Beijing's perspective of which direction third-world countries are leaning.


Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has believed over the last five years that the balance of power is shifting in China's favor and is now irreversible. Not everything has gone as planned in Beijing. China is concerned about the resurgence of US alliances in the Pacific and the Atlantic.


They were caught aback by Biden's elevation of the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) to summit level. China is also concerned about a security collaboration between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom (AUKUS), as well as Australia's decision to create nuclear-powered submarines.


Beijing has observed with concern as Japan has adopted a new defense policy, increased defense spending, and begun to accept the need to aid in Taiwan's defense.



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