China & the US should meet halfway
Humphrey Hawksley’s article about the high-level US-China diplomatic meeting in Alaska (Clarity, communication and caution, April edition) highlighted the heated exchange between the two sides.
After the confrontational opening session, later talks were said to be calm and constructive. Yet there was no joint statement or joint press conference, no handshaking or photo op, not even a welcome reception – which led some commentators to jeer at the US for being a cold host.
Clearly there are vast differences between the two sides on a wide range of issues. Management of such a complex relationship will test the diplomatic skills and political wisdom of each. With US Congress fervently anti-China and the Chinese public highly nationalistic, neither government can afford to appear weak.
The location of the meeting in Alaska, roughly equal distance from Beijing and Washington, suggests a way forward: the two sides could aim to meet each other halfway.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken could have included Beijing in his spring tour of Asia. Yet if he had done so, many in Washington would have accused him of kowtowing to Xi Jinping.
The Chinese officials made a concession by flying to Alaska. Beijing was eager to reset the relationship, hoping that the Biden administration will roll back Trump’s combative approach. The Chinese must be really disappointed to learn the Biden administration is in no hurry to reverse Trump’s China policy any time soon.
Professor of Political Science and International Relations
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
HK’s human rights campaigners are patriots
Duncan Bartlett’s article about Hong Kong in your magazine (Reaction and Revenge, April 2021) highlighted the way China uses the concept of patriotism to ensure pro-Beijing politicians dominate the LegCo (local parliament). We are concerned about this interference in what should be an autonomous political entity.
China has much to lose by heading down this path of extreme nationalism. It could leave the country isolated, and history shows us that an isolated China is economically and socially weak. Surely this presents a threat to the Chinese Communist Party?
As Mr Bartlett’s article points out, sometimes China presents western support for human rights in China as a form of foreign interference. However, the freedom fighters of Hong Kong and families of the Uyghurs are local people advocating for human rights in our own country. We love our homeland. Western allies should not be afraid to work with us, even in the face of harsh campaigns by China.
Nicholas Chan & Harrison Chan
Friends of Hong Kong
Deepening democratic roots
The magnificent analysis by Syed Badrul Ahsan – known in Bangladesh as SBA –in ‘Asia’s rising star’ is well-grounded and well-written.
The challenge now is to continue to pursue the economic and political conditions that will spread wealth throughout the population and provide an example for the rest of the world. We must work harder to build a truly caring society in 2021.
Despite all the success the country has achieved in recent years, including 2020, new and old dangers – economic, political, and security-related – threaten to derail its progress. With sound policymaking, effective leadership, and enough foresight, however, we can meet and defeat these challenges as well as many more to come in the near future.
‘With democracy and its concomitant factors permitted to dig deeper roots in the country, Bangladesh’s economy looks ready to take on wider dimensions as it continues to expand in the years ahead,’ writes SBA.
Hats off to him for writing this brilliant piece.
Anwar A. Khan