China’s aggressive posture is underpinned by what President Xi refers to as“the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” For instance, the Chinese Communist Party approved on Sunday, amendments to its constitution, adding clauses including “firmly opposing Taiwan independence.” In addition to this ‘fresh’ agenda, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been selected for the Communist Party’s Politburo, while China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang is joining its Central Committee. According to Spegele “both men are known to be close to Chinese leader Xi Jinping and their promotions suggest a degree of continuity in China’s foreign policy.” In this context, the steps that will follow will see an active implementation of the ‘Made in China 2025’ and a more aggressive Chinese foreign policy. This is of increasing relevance as the war in Ukraine continues and the Russian presence in Asia comes to a decline.
In the U.S. domestically- both the Republican and Democrat parties have found common ground and vocalised their concerns over the growing Chinese question. Accordingly, new data from Pew Research Center said that “this year, 82% of Americans have an unfavourable view of China, a historical high. Five years ago, that number was about half, standing at 47%.” Just a few weeks from the US-midterm elections, candidates from both parties have employed the Chinese narrative to obtain electorate ground. For instance, U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Tim Ryan and Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump highlighted the role of China in U.S. domestic industry, labour and politics. Indeed, such narratives have come to the individual sphere claiming a national security threat. For instance, in Arizona, “Republican challenger Blake Masters insists that Chinese students in America are a threat to U.S. national security.” Such flagrant statements have not been heard since Trump’s racist rhetoric speeches throughout his presidential campaign in 2016.
Evidentially, amidst the growing tensions between the US and China, bipartisan unity has reflourished. From an economic side, China-related bills have been progressively enacted to restrain the country’s economic presence domestically. Last month, The CHIPS Act was approved by Congress and pledges $52.7 billion in investment in “U.S. domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research and development to counter China’s massive subsidies to its chip industry.” This move has recently been accompanied by several export controls, expected to stymie China’s military development. Intended to come with equal force, The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act prohibits forced labour products from Xinjiang from entering the United States. All three actions have secured wide support from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
In this context, the inquiry that remains and resonates around Beijing’s new leadership as Xi Jinping extends his rule over the Communist Party is how to respond to the U.S. chip export controls announced during the days prior to the election. The expectation is one of retaliation whereby the experienced leader will not cease to move forward with his agenda as it has continued to do militarizing the South China Sea; used economic coercion against South Korea, Australia, and Lithuania; and escalated a fight with India over their disputed border.
Of political concern, China’s diplomatic allies including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un congratulated Xi Jinping on Sunday for extending his term for the third time as Chinese Communist Party leader. Similarly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Mr Xi favouring their growing friendship. For the U.S. this comes without surprise, the mutual sympathy among these heads of state has a long-stating objective of confrontation with the West. Domestically, a study published by Pew Research Centre recently displays “a 57% majority of Americans say the partnership between China and Russia is a very serious problem for the U.S.” Indeed, the concern for national security now resonates among workers and domestic producers who feel threatened by the growing presence of Chinese products at home.
Militarily, NATO member countries have debated since 2019 whether – and if so how – to develop a common position on China. At NATO’s Madrid Summit in June 2022, member countries introduced a renewed inter-state political and military conversation towards drafting and enacting a common NATO-China policy. Facing a challenging military and security landscape on the verge of the Ukraine war, several NATO members continue to adopt a restraining posture to engage in political and military attitudes that might endanger the already fragile inter-state relations in regions like the Caucasus, the Mediterranean and in Eastern Europe. Having said this, it comes without surprise that countries like Hungary or Turkey fail to determine their military stands on economic grounds vis-a-vis China.
Accordingly, there is a prospect for NATO to deepen its relations with its existing Pacific partners – Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan. Indeed, multilateral frameworks like the Quad or the AUKUS have demonstrated resilience and willingness to become active participants in the region.
Despite the growing difficulties of maintaining constructive relations, the U.S. is turning more reluctant to continue commercial relations with China. Following the official visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, China’s military power became a growing concern to Americans. At its core, the presented military manoeuvres, technological build-up and modernization will continue to resonate across the Indo-Pacific.
Notwithstanding, key partners of the U.S. like Germany continue aiming at peaceful co-existence. Early on Wednesday the 26th of October, the German cabinet compromised with China’s Cosco allowing them to take a 24.9% stake in the largest port in Hamburg (HHLA’s terminal). The increasing interest of Chinese enterprises in Europe’s critical infrastructure, in particular for ports as observed by researchers and academia before the commencement of the war in Ukraine, has now become a reality that might prove challenging if NATO countries can no longer rely on the use of these ports should the Alliance have to defend Europe.
Ip Greg, “Why Another Xi Jinping Term Might Be in U.S.’s Interest” The Wall Street Journal (October 19, 2022) Available at: <https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-another-xi-jinping-term-might-be-in-u-s-s-interest-11666179763?mod=livecoverage_web> Accessed October 2022.
Kaim Markus and Angela Stanzel, “The rise of China and NATO’s new Strategic Concept” NDC Policy Brief No. 4 – NATO Defence College (February 2022).
Spegele Brian, “Xi’s Best-Known Envoys Wang Yi and Qin Gang Win Promotion” The Wall Street Journal (October 23, 2022) Available at: <https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/china-xi-jinping-communist-party-congress/card/xi-s-best-known-envoys-win-promotion-cnis7BeZPrjSGkiFcFDV> Accessed October 2022.
Silver Laura, Christine Huang and Laura Clancy, “Few Americans see a third Xi term as a major problem for the U.S.; other concerns about China have grown” Pew Research Centre (October 19, 2022) Available at: <https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/10/19/few-americans-see-a-third-xi-term-as-a-major-problem-for-the-u-s-other-concerns-about-china-have-grown/> Accessed October 2022.
Yang Lin, “In Polarized 2022 Midterms, US Candidates Find Common Ground Opposing China” VOA News (October 25, 2022) Available at <https://www.voanews.com/a/in-polarized-2022-midterms-us-candidates-find-common-ground-opposing-china/6804620.html> Accessed October 2022.
 Brian Spegele, “Xi’s Best-Known Envoys Wang Yi and Qin Gang Win Promotion” The Wall Street Journal (October 23, 2022) Available at: <https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/china-xi-jinping-communist-party-congress/card/xi-s-best-known-envoys-win-promotion-cnis7BeZPrjSGkiFcFDV> Accessed October 2022.
 Yang Lin, “In Polarized 2022 Midterms, US Candidates Find Common Ground Opposing China” VOA News (October 25, 2022) Available at <https://www.voanews.com/a/in-polarized-2022-midterms-us-candidates-find-common-ground-opposing-china/6804620.html> Accessed October 2022.
 Laura Silver, Christine Huang and Laura Clancy, “Few Americans see a third Xi term as a major problem for the U.S.; other concerns about China have grown” Pew Research Centre (October 19, 2022) Available at: <https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/10/19/few-americans-see-a-third-xi-term-as-a-major-problem-for-the-u-s-other-concerns-about-china-have-grown/> Accessed October 2022.
 Markus Kaim and Angela Stanzel, “The rise of China and NATO’s new Strategic Concept” NDC Policy Brief No. 4 – NATO Defence College (February 2022).