By Corinn Schmieg
1Author Affiliation: School of Diplomacy & International Relations, Pôle Universitaire Euclide (Euclid University), Bangui (Central African Republic) and Greater Banjul (Republic of the Gambia) / EUCLID Global Institute, Washington DC (United States)
Keywords: China, United States, Trade War, Huawei Battle, Tariffs
IGOs: World Trade Organization (WTO)
After decades of trying to create positive diplomatic relations, a trade war broke out between the United States and China. After tariffs placed on Chinese imports in the US, China retaliated with their own tariffs. A year into the trade war, US President Donald Trump placed sanctions on Chinese-made Huawei phones. This changed the trade war, and the future of trade wars forever. By specifically targeting an international company, the trade war went from being a primarily bilateral issue into a much larger problem affecting all other countries that sold Huawei phones. The World Trade Organization has been working with both countries to attempt to find a way to end the trade war with limited success. While the trade war may continue, the Huawei battle shows that trade wars have the capacity to quickly affect the entire world.
The United States and China have spent decades attempting to cultivate a prosperous relationship. Through major political events, agreements, and many trade deals, the US and China had eventually created a working relationship. In the past two decades, China has rapidly grown and expanding economically, making it difficult for any nation to keep up with trade policies that continuously fit the needs of both nations. The World Trade Organization has worked to keep up with these changes, and until the trade war, they have been successful in avoiding any major conflicts. After US President Donald Trump was elected, a trade war broke out between the two nations. This led to incredibly high tariffs being put on imported Chinese products in the US. It also caused some Chinese leaders to begin to rethink their position on US-Chinese relations. In the spring of 2019, President Trump signed an executive order and declared a national emergency. He stated that certain electronic telecommunication devices were posing a major security threat to the United States. He then stated that Huawei, a Chinese phone brand, was one of the biggest potential security threats with their new 5G networks. This started the ‘Huawei Battle.’ During this battle, many governments, companies, and political leaders weighed in on the significance of essentially banning a Chinese product in the US. This battle led up to the G-20 Summit and would trigger the start of talks that would end the trade war. The final major battle of the US-China trade war, the ‘Huawei Battle,’ may signify the end of the war after US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to renegotiate economic and trade between the two nations. While the trade war may come to an end after negotiations commence, the Huawei battle shows how a trade war that begins between two-countries can quickly affect the entire world.
2. History of US-China Relations
China and the United States have had a tumultuous history. From a time when Americans were not able to enter into China, to a booming trade industry, there were many obstacles and roadblocks the US and China had to face in order to create positive diplomatic relations. After China officially became the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China and the United States disagreed on many things. These disagreements caused China to declare that Americans were not allowed inside of China for any reason. At this time, the Us was working harder to maintain positive relations with Taiwan. This caused many conflicts with China. In 1979, the year the United States and China began to establish diplomatic relations. Finally, in April of 1979, China invited US ping pong players to visit. This visit was the first time Americans were allowed in China since 1949 and has since been referred to as ‘Ping Pong Diplomacy.’ Then, after a decade of slowly working to improve relations, the US committed to the One China policy. The One China policy stated that China (including Taiwan) is one singular state, and the US must treat them as such. In a time when the US-Taiwan relations were important, this was a significant step in creating positive relations between the US and China. It also meant that the US would need to stop trading directly with Taiwan. The next ten years were spent improving diplomatic relations between the US and China.
While relations seemed to be continuously improving, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred in June of 1989, creating a major rift between the US and China. After months of student protests, the government ended the protest by force. The United States’ government did not agree with …