From tariffs to nuclear tests, from Coronavirus to Hong Kong: the USA and China to short knitting needles. All the stages of the escalation in the Trump era


Tensions are high between the two world superpowers, after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking on the sidelines of the People’s Assembly, said the two countries are “one step away from a new Cold War”. The head of Chinese diplomacy urged Washington to respect the “development of China” will as a nation.

Mercoldì Donald Trump once again blamed Beijing for contributing to the spread of the Coronavirus infection, covering up the early stages of the epidemic and hiding important information: “It was the biggest attack that our country has ever received,” said Trump .

An exchange of accusations that is increasingly intense between Beijing and Washington, in a war for global leadership that is becoming increasingly “cooler” precisely. But the divisions between the United States and China date back long before the pandemic and will continue even after its end.


“China can.” It is with this slogan and goal that China presented itself on the technological market with Huawei, the mobile phone giant that in January surpassed Apple in the sale of smartphones. A China that can do everything is a threat for Trump that the US president has made clear from the outset that he wants to stem. On 1 December 2018, the White House made its move by stopping Huawei’s financial director and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei at Vancouver airport, Vancouver.

Two months later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declares that the installation of 5G technology developed by Huawei damages the relations of a country like the United States. A few days ago, on May 18, the US confirmed the ban on Huawei products on the American market. The Commerce Department extended the blockade for reasons related to “national security”.

The economic war: the duties

America First». The American president, elected in 2016, followed up on the promises heralded during the election campaign affecting trade between the United States and China. Always critical of China’s economic stand on the global market, in May 2019 Trump announced an increase in tariffs on products imported from China to the value of 200 billion.

A news that shakes the markets. In August Beijing responded by announcing the imposition of as many duties on American products. One standoff which ended in a truce that started last December when the two countries reached an agreement on trade.

There Belt and Road

From technology to trade. If there is one thing that the health crisis has highlighted, especially in its first weeks, it is that the tug of war between the United States and China is a competition on the future of the international order. There Belt and Road, or the new Silk Roads, are the litmus test of Chinese aspirations and American fears.

The large economic and infrastructure project launched by Xi Jinping in 2013 for the construction and strengthening of a series of land and maritime connections show the ambitions of a China that has stopped living in the shadow of Washington for decades, increasingly obscured by the loss its global influence and the disastrous consequences of its “war on terror”.

China is ready to replace the United States as a creditor of a new order thanks to the generous investment concessions to which Italy has also decided to join. Last April the signature on the memorandum of the Belt and Road triggered the US reaction that asked Italy to “not legitimize the Chinese vanity project”.

Hong Kong and Taiwan

If there is one thing that Beijing cannot tolerate, it is the intrusion into its internal affairs. The protests that broke out in Hong Kong last year due to a controversial extradition law offered the United States the perfect opportunity to try and trip its rival.

The national security law that Beijing is in a hurry to pass to regain full control over the autonomy of the island and the freedoms of demonstration has promptly offered the US yet another platform to intensify escalation with Beijing on democratic values ​​that Washington continues. to present himself as the only defender.

In the past week, the US has also announced the sale of $ 180 million worth of missiles to Taiwan. The island enjoys a special status and although it is not part of the People’s Republic of China, China considers it a secessionist province that will sooner or later have to come back under its control.

During the Trump administration, Washington moved ever closer to Taipei, infuriating the Beijing government. In May 2019, then U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton met with one of Taiwan’s top defense officials, the first such meeting in 40 years.

Nuclear tests

The United States has not conducted nuclear tests since 1992. But the Trump administration, according to the Washington Post, would be ready to resort once again to the weapon of deterrence in its relations with China and Russia. A move that reopens the scenarios and spectra of a global clash between West and East and multipolar blocks. A move that, in addition to pushing China towards a further increase in its military spending, could blow up negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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