What China And America Agree and Disagree On: Hacking, Climate Change & North Korea
If China and America were on Facebook–well, if China used Facebook at all–then they'd be "in a relationship, and it's complicated." Not enemies, but not quite friends, the kinship between the two superpowers has been described as the most important of the 21st century. Though the Obama administration has faced pressure to make nice with China so that the two superpowers can work together on global issues, the countries' strained history, international disagreements, and accusations of hacking from both sides has put a spanner in the works. In early June, President Obama met with Chinese president Xi Jinping to hash out their issues. The talks were called considered "the most important meeting between an American president and a Chinese leader in 40 years." But what was decided? Here, a cheat-sheet of the major agreements and disagreements between the two powers. [Image: Getty Images]
Agree: North Korea is Dangerous
North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un has been ramping up nuclear threats in recent months, and neither America nor China are having any of it. China was originally more tolerant of its neighbor and ex-ally, but has been rattled by North Korea’s belligerent threats and missile testing in recent months. During the leaders’ June meeting, the two agreed to work together to denuclearize North Korea—and take extreme measures if necessary. (And you really, really don’t want to mess with these guys.) [Image: Getty Images]
Disagree: About Hacking One Another
You can use the ominous word “cyberespionage” to describe what China and America have (allegedly) been doing to one another—in short, web-hacking, which for the first time is a major diplomatic issue. During the June talks, President Obama claimed that China had poached state secrets, military technology, and intellectual property online. Xi Jinping hit back by saying that China opposed “cyberespionage,” and was actually the real victim of it. According to Edward Snowden, China’s not wrong—America“hacks everyone everywhere!” he spluttered on June 9, provoking China to write a strongly-worded editorial condemning the States. Snowden’s revelations are “certain to stain Washington’s overseas image and test developing Sino-U.S. ties,” the editorial angrily noted. (Sino-U.S. is a fancy way to say Chinese-America, FYI.) [Image: Getty Images]
Agree: Climate Change is a Problem
As the presidents concluded their June talks, the White House released a “breakthrough” statement: China and America are set to collaboratively slow down global warning by eliminating a gas called hydrofluorocarbons (we’ll call them HFCs.) Used to trap heat in refrigerators and air-conditioners, getting rid of HFCs is seen as the first step in the countries’ agenda to combat climate change. China and America are the worlds’ biggest culprits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but climate analysts say that far more steps are needed in the long-term. [Image: Getty Images]
Disagree: Taiwan's Autonomy
Quick recap: The island of Taiwan, though technically a part of China, is essentially autonomous. China isn’t impressed by this, and has threatened to use force to reclaim it. (Ties between China and Taiwan have improved in the last year, but remain tentative.) America continues to sell weapons to Taiwan, and supports the democratic island, as it has for decades. At the June meeting, President Jinping apparently pressured Obama to stop selling arms to Taiwan, and, again, President Obama politely declined. [Image: Getty Images]
Agree: The Economy
As Europe remains submerged in recession, China and America retain the title of world’s strongest economic powers. The two countries share major economic issues: a need for education and tax reform; rising healthcare costs; and a desire for middle-class job growth. Both countries would benefit from restructuring and formally agreeing on issues like trade, global banks, and monetary security. Though no formal agreement has yet been reached, the presidents agreed to work together to speed economic growth and encourage development. A “G-2” alliance, set up to navigate just that, is allegedly in the works.
Disagree: Defense Strategies
At the moment, America’s pulling troops out of Afghanistan and—quote-unquote—rebalancing the military. Think of it like a game of Risk: to make sure all bases are covered, you pull troops from one country and place them in another. In America’s case, the country’s military presence is slowly but surely being moved to the Asia Pacific region. China’s defense ministry has lashed out in response, saying that it’s making the region “tense”, and Chinese officials have called the move an attempt to dampen dampen down China’s influence in the region. (The U.S. says it hopes to be a “stabilizing” influence there.) However, the recent talks seem to have cooled things down between the countries: “The vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for two large countries like the United States and China,” Jinping said.