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The U.S.-China relationship is a Shakespearean tragedy

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04.08.2020

South Orange, New Jersey – The one common and peculiar aspect of most Shakespearean tragedies is the fact that the catastrophic events and unfolding misfortunes seem almost inevitable. While characters within the play are well aware of the fact that things are quickly going from bad to worse, it seems almost impossible to change the course of events. Unfortunately, the current U.S.-China relationship seems to be showing the same tendency.

Many Shakespearean tragedies were caused by accidents, which in turn were a result of carelessness and miscommunication. U.S.-China relations have never been smooth and peaceful, and have in the past experienced various ups and downs and dangerous crises such as the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the 2001 military aircraft collision incident, among others.

The main reason why none of these incidents developed into a major tragedy, despite their severity, was owing to the different generation of political leaders, diplomats, and military officials on both sides, who shared a high level of mindfulness and sensitivity toward this fragile relationship. Throughout their years of association, both sides took extra care and preventive measures to avoid misjudgment and accidents.

For example, in 1996 during the Taiwan Strait Crisis the United States sent two aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait. This was the biggest military confrontation between the two countries since the Vietnam War. The onboard American journalists surprisingly noticed many reminder posters filling the wall in the aircraft carrier’s meeting room, including Chinese government statements and reminders regarding things that should be strictly avoided during the operation. This disclosed information went on to show that the U.S. side maintained clear communication with the Chinese side.

Despite the much bigger gap in strength between the two countries as compared to what now exists, the U.S. was extremely cautious to avoid any misjudgments and subsequent accidents. Similarly, on the Chinese side, according to a recently published report, at an internal speech made during his official retirement in 1989, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said........

© The Japan Times


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