Raimondo’s visit and shifting paradigm in Sin-US ties

By Imran Khalid | Gwadar Pro Aug 28, 2023

Editor's Note: The writer is a freelance columnist on international affairs based in Karachi, Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

Given the prevailing circumstances, the visit of US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to China has undeniably captured the global attention. Analysts of various domains have underscored the significance of this visit, highlighting the pivotal role it can play in shaping the future trajectory of Sino-American relations.

As trade-centric dialogues unfurl between the two nations, the outcome of these discussions has assumed augmented significance, notably in the context of the prevailing restrictions that the United States has imposed on the export of technology to China. However, the impetus lies in determining whether the contours of these dialogues will lead to constructive junctures.

With the focal point centered around the ever-evolving web of restrictions the US has woven around technology exports to China, the deliberations manifest as a litmus test of the United States' sincerity in its pursuit of fostering dialogue with China. This juncture is crucial, as it unveils the United States' true intentions-whether they are genuinely inclined towards the path of diplomatic discourse and engagement. In a world characterized by interdependence, the outcome of Secretary Raimondo's endeavors will undoubtedly reverberate on the international stage. As the narrative unfolds, it is not merely a dialogue between two entities, but a reflection of a shifting global paradigm-one that recognizes the significance of coexistence and mutual growth.

Raimondo's journey to China, carries significant connotations, serving as a signal of optimism amid the ongoing turbulence characterizing Sino-US relations, arguably the most challenging in recent history. An interesting article by Bloomberg, published on Saturday, posits that Raimondo might wield the potential to de-escalate the current tension that engulfs the world's two most influential economies.

As she joins the ranks of Biden administration officials who have traversed this diplomatic bridge, her presence carries the promise of tempering the turbulence that has defined the recent narrative. At the same time, the perspective of some hawkish elements within the United States is tinged with skepticism, casting shadows on the outcome behind the dialogue. Such reservations stem from the contentious backdrop of bilateral relations, engendering skepticism about the feasibility of meaningful dialogue. This viewpoint postulates that this diplomatic overture might be a mere smokescreen, veiling a broader strategy geared towards safeguarding American interests while projecting an image of amicable engagement. Raimondo's on-going odyssey, wrapped in optimism on one side and skepticism on the other, is emblematic of a complex Sino-US chessboard shrouded in divergent narratives.

However, three recent steps by Washington have unexpectedly kindled a surge of optimism leading up to Raimondo's visit. One, last week, the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security declared the removal of 27 Chinese entities from the controversial "Unverified List." Simultaneously, the US Department of Transportation gave the nod for six flights operated by Chinese airlines to the US, starting September 1. And, amidst the backdrop of tense China-US relations, the third positive development emerges as the US contemplates extending a long-standing science and technology accord inked with China.

The decision to pursue a brief prolongation of the US-China Science and Technology Agreement (STA), even under the weight of escalating demands from US legislators, offers a glimmer of optimism. This step, laden with significance, underscores the Biden administration's intent to nurturing a renewed rapport with China. Analysts discern in this move a profound message- a signal not to abandon cooperative endeavors in the vast domain of technology and science. A rivalry that has generated considerable apprehension in Washington seems to be tempered by this gesture.

The US State Department, announcing its intention, seeks a half-year extension of the STA, set to lapse on August 27, affirming a continuation to meaningful engagement. The historic accord, inked back in 1979, has maintained a rhythmic renewal cycle, having been extended approximately every five years. Its most recent continuation was sealed in 2018. This agreement stands as an emblem of the vibrant intergovernmental collaboration coursing through the realm of science and technology between the two countries.

Over the course of these dynamic four decades, the agreement has given rise to more than 30 agreements spanning a diverse spectrum, encompassing areas ranging from healthcare and engineering to climate action and environmental preservation. Hundreds of joint initiatives have thrived under this aegis, fashioning a robust bedrock for the bilateral scientific fraternity. Nonetheless, there are those within the ranks of US policymakers who are eager to dislodge this platform of cooperation.

On seemingly exaggerated premises, they rally against the agreement's renewal, casting speculative shadows that it could potentially invigorate China's technological and military capacities. Raimondo's visit is poised to epitomize the intricate diplomatic choreography that the Biden administration is orchestrating in its engagement with China. These maneuvers reflect a growing recognition that unceasing curtailment of China's progress could inevitably backfire on America's own stakes. Evidently, these gestures imply that beneath the surface of apparent friction, the yearning for a pragmatic understanding between these global powerhouses remains undeniably potent.

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