“Friends are revealed in misfortune”. This is what the Chinese President Xi Jinping declared at the opening of the Eastern Economic Forum taking place on 11–13 September 2018 in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. And friends are indeed necessary to counter a powerful enemy.
No great power relationship has been as volatile as that between the United States and China. The US and China are each too globalized and dynamic to contain, too successful and entangled with each other to divorce without causing another global financial and geopolitical earthquake. The United States is here to stay as a great power. China is back as one. The Middle Kingdom seems likely to become ever wealthier, technologically advanced, internationally prominent, and militarily powerful.
"Internet security and informatization are important and urgent. The dual goals of security and development are like two wings of a bird and two wheels of an engine. No internet safety means no national security. No informatization means no modernization": it was February 2014, and Chinese president Xi Jinping chaired the first meeting of the "Cybersecurity and Informatization Leading Group" (CILG), a new body of the Chinese government in charge of all cyber affairs, including political, economic, cultural and military issues.
The upcoming meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping is the main political event of the year in terms of Russian-Chinese relations. On the agenda there is the implementation of the agreement to reach a $200 bln bilateral trade level by 2020, the task that was assigned by the leaders of two countries. The key precondition for the success of this agreement is shifting to a new model of cooperation, with more connected production chains and diverse investment ties.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reforms and opening up. In four decades, China has learned how to grasp the benefits of globalisation and has become a world economic champion. As the world’s second-largest economy, today China is no longer the factory of the world but an industrial power aiming at the forefront of major hightech sectors, in direct competition with Europe and the US. In sharp contrast with Trump’s scepticism on multilateralism, President Xi has renewed his commitment to growing an open global economy.
U.S. American President Donald Trump announced – during his first Asia tour in November 2017 – that it was now time to think about the Indo-Pacific strategy. This has de facto put an end to Washington's previous Asia-Pacific strategy adopted by Trump's predecessor in 2011: the U.S. "pivot to Asia". This shift increases the chances of recreating what has been known as the so-called 'Quad', that is, an alliance which comprises the US, India, Japan, and Australia.
Australian policy makers and strategists have recently embraced the so-called "Indo-Pacific" as a geopolitical construct to guide foreign and security policy (sometimes referred to as "Indo-Pacific strategy" - IPS). The concept was outlined in both the 2016 Defence White Paper and 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and has prominently featured in the speeches of policy makers and the accompanying think tank/academic discourse.
The "Indo-Pacific" is the geopolitical referent for the Trump administration’s foreign policy toward Asia – East, Southeast and South – and the Pacific. Since it was first articulated in November 2017, the concept has taken on a more normative tinge and is now an integral part of the larger "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”. As much is implicit in the phrase as is explicit, however, and those assumptions are perhaps even more important.
Tokyo's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" (FOIP) concept, Tokyo claims, has taken shape and is turning from a concept into a concrete strategy jointly implemented by Japan, the U.S., India and Australia. But not so fast. And that not only because U.S. President Trump could endorse and cheer the concept in a morning tweet and dismiss it as irrelevant in the evening, but also because coordinated and institutionalized security cooperation between the four countries in the Indo-Pacific region has yet a long way to go to be referred as such.
US-China trade tensions rose sharply since early 2018. The first round of direct confrontation starts with the US Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and China retaliated with tariffs covering roughly same amounts of US imports ($3 billion). Threats to impose 25 percent tariffs on about $50 billion imports from China by the United States under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 started the second round, and China retaliated by releasing its own list of products that would be subject to proposed tariffs on imports from the US.