Biden’s contest with China, calls for Hong Kong sanctions, anger over TikTok ‘disinformation’: 7 reads about US-China relations

We have selected seven of the biggest and most important news stories covering US-China relations from the past few weeks. If you would like to see more of our reporting, please consider subscribing.

1. ‘America is rising’: Biden uses State of the Union to push contest with China

Photo: Getty Images via AFP
“We want competition with China, but not conflict,” declared an energetic 81-year-old Joe Biden earlier this month during his last State of the Union address as US president before the country goes to the polls in November. “We’re in a stronger position to win the competition for the 21st century against China, or anyone else for that matter,” he said. Biden boasted of low US unemployment rates, controlled inflation and falling imports from China in contending that “America is rising”.
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2. China and US battle fiercely on yet another tech front: patent applications

Illustration: Henry Wong

According to 2023 UN data, Chinese inventors led in international patent applications for the second year running, posting some 14,000 more than the second-place US. As China raises its game, reducing substandard filings, some analysts say its swooning economy and ageing population could blunt its innovation trajectory.

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3. Vietnam minister credits ‘bamboo diplomacy’ for good relations with China and US

Photo: AP

Vietnam’s foreign minister credited his Communist-ruled nation’s “bamboo diplomacy” for successfully balancing its relations with the rival global powers of China and the US. He also said the recent resignation of President Vo Van Thuong would not be destabilising. “In 2023, Vietnam hosted both US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping – which means Vietnam wishes and can have good relations with all major powers,” Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

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4. Punish Hong Kong officials behind Article 23 national security law, say US lawmakers

Photo: AP

US lawmakers urged the White House to sanction Hong Kong officials responsible for passing the city’s new domestic national security law hours after it came into force on March 23, while pledging to expedite legislation to strip the city’s American-based trade offices of special privileges. Separately, America’s top diplomat expressed “deep concern” over the new law’s “opaque provisions”.

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5. As Washington cracks down on Chinese businesses, their lobbyists come under fire

Illustration: Davies Christian Surya

In early February, a list titled “Buying Influence in Washington: The Top Firms Lobbying for China” made the rounds among Capitol Hill staffers. The list, which the South China Morning Post has seen, coincided with reports that lawmakers are considering a ban on members of Congress from meeting lobbyists who represent Chinese companies with alleged links to China’s military – even if the meeting being sought is for an American client.

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6. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to press China on green energy spending, subsidies that distort global market

Photo: AP

American concerns over China’s green energy spending binge is likely to dominate the high-level talks between the two global powers in Beijing early next month. Citing excess capacity in industries like solar, electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries because of huge Chinese government subsidies, the problem will be “a key issue” in discussions with senior Chinese officials during her second trip to China in a year, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a speech in late March.

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7. US House vote on TikTok ban suggests broader prism than just pro- or anti-China

Photo: Bloomberg

On March 6, a day after the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would ban TikTok’s operations in the US if its Chinese-based parent company ByteDance didn’t divest in about six months, TikTok sent a notification to its US users asking them to “speak up” to prevent a “total ban”. Behind the scenes, much of Capitol Hill was furious. What TikTok said was “straight-up disinformation”, said a congressional staffer.

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Also from the Post’s foreign correspondents

EU sees 200% surge in Xinjiang imports despite human rights concerns

Photo: Xinhua

The European Union’s imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang surged in the first two months of the year, even as the bloc moved to finalise two laws aimed at tackling human rights complaints there. Exports from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to the EU’s 27 members rose 217.8 per cent in January and February compared with the same period last year, according to the Post’s calculations based on new Chinese trade data.

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WTO faults Australian inquiry into trade dispute with China

Photo: Getty Images

A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled that some Australian measures against Chinese imports of railway wheels, stainless steel sinks and wind towers were not in line with its rules. In all three cases, WTO judges found fault with how Canberra conducted its investigation into alleged Chinese dumping, specifically on how it compared the prices of the goods sold domestically in China and their prices abroad. The ruling recommends that Australia amend or withdraw the measures.

Read the full story here.


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