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Clash of the superpowers? China's geopolitical ambition in the Biden Era Updated: 2021-03-11 06:03:01 KST

China's annual 'two sessions' comes to a close on Thursday.
A key annual event on Beijing's political calendar, gathering the National People's Congress (NPC), and its top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the two sessions usually sets out the goverment's major economic and political goals.
In addition to Beijing's new five-year economic roadmap which we discussed earlier this week, observers also looked for political cues on how and to what extent China aims to expand its influence in the world and, most critically, how it will manage relations with a new U.S. administration under President Joe Biden.
For this, we connect with James Kim, Senior Research Fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
We also welcome back Joseph Bosco, Former China country director in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense.

1.
James: In the past, China has said it doesn't intend to be a superpower, but Beijing officials have increasingly mentioned the idea of coexisting as a major power with the U.S. From what you've observed, what stood out to you during this year's two sessions? What can we learn about China's foreign policy ambitions, and how it plans to address its rivalry with Washington?

2. Joseph: And of course, this fell on the Communist Party's centenary this year, with Xi Jinping's leadership still intact. What did you find significant about the two sessions, particularly in regard to Beijing's conflict with Washington?


3. Joseph: An expression promoting "China's reunification" with Taiwan appeared for the second year in a row, at this year's two sessions. In 2019, the expression was "China's peaceful reunification." The Global Times says "relevant scholars and lawmakers are discussing a new legislation for national reunification." Also, officials unveiled proposals to introduce major changes to Hong Kong's electoral system. What does this indicate and do you think we'll see China's claims get more aggressive?

4. James: U.S. Pres. Joe Biden has been expressing strong concerns about Beijing's grip on Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan, as he mentioned in a phone call to Xi Jinping. Also, there have been calls for a boycott of China's participation in the Tokyo Olympics. When questioned about human rights, State Councilor Wang Yi has called them baseless accusations and smears. Do you think Joe Biden will stay firm on human rights issues, and do you think China is going to budge at all? Or will Xi continue to brush off human rights concerns and wait out the Biden government?

5. Joseph: How do you think Beijing is preparing to respond to and address these human rights concerns? Does Xi Jinping intend to sit and wait for a new U.S. administration, given the assumption that he intends to stay in power for a very long time?

6. James: It seems Beijing tried to get a head start on engaging America's allies, sealing the RCEP pact that strengthens its economic ties with Japan and an investment deal with the EU. China has also increased its clout in global institutions. Is it going to be easy for Biden to round up multilateral efforts against China's behaviour?

7. Joseph: China boosted its spending in R&D by two percent as well as increasing its defense expenditure. Xi Jinping said the Chinese military must be “prepared to respond” to complex and difficult situations as the country grapples with security challenges. The country aims to be a top military power by 2050. Is the U.S. just as prepared to ramp up its technology and national security interests?
There's talk of imposing narrowly targeted measures to decouple from the Chinese economy by reducing supply chain dependency in high tech sectors. Is this enough to protect U.S. national security?

8. James: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with top Chinese officials on Thursday next week in Alaska, the White House said on Wednesday, the first high-level in-person contact between the two sparring countries under the Biden administration. What kind of discussions do you expect will take place?


-Do you think America's traditional allies might become more assertive about their own interests, and pick and choose what they want, rather than be pressured into taking sides?


James Kim, Senior Research Fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies and Joseph Bosco, Former China country director in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense. Thank you for your time.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com
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