2022 and Beyond: Crises or Cooperation?
The first weeks of 2022 were rife with ominous developments, including spikes in new COVID infections with the Omicron variant, conflicts in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, disastrous weather induced by climate change and ongoing tensions between the United States and China. There are no clear signs that relations will get better anytime soon.
Yet, 2022 offers opportunities for China and the U.S. to work together. Domestic imperatives and global challenges call for a constructive relationship, not a rivalry that jeopardizes all. If 2021 teaches anything, it is that patience, respect, political resolve and diplomatic finesse are critical in managing the complex relationship between the world’s two greatest powers.
A recent China-U.S. Focus survey of leading Chinese scholars identified the U.S. midterm elections and the Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress in the fall, and the Taiwan issue as the key variables that will shape the future. It also found a consensus that China-U.S. relations are trending away from cooperation and toward competition —and potential crises. The year may end up with elements of both.