China adopting flexible diplomacy as trade row with US intensifies, says expert-Sino-US

China adopting flexible diplomacy as trade row with US intensifies, says expert

China is adopting a flexible diplomacy to expand its influence in the US-centric world order, according to an expert.

Over the recent years, China has shown strong assertiveness in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the issue of Taiwan, while adopting a flexible diplomatic policy especially in Asia, where it uses its economic influence to force some countries to make compromises on the political, military and sovereign affairs, said Prashanth Parameswaran, a senior editor at the Diplomat based in Washington DC, where he writes mostly on Southeast Asia, Asian security affairs and US foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific.

The growing assertiveness and economic diplomacy strikes a sharp contrast to the diplomatic principle of keeping low profile that China adopted decades ago.

In Parameswaran's opinion, the biggest change in China's diplomacy is that the Chinese government appears to be directly communicating with the people of foreign countries when conducting external publicity, which accordingly brings challenges to the foreign governments including the American government.

Facing the Chinese challenges, those foreign governments need to consider adjusting their domestic policies in order to prevent their people from being affected by the Chinese publicity, said Parameswaran.

However, Parameswaran does not think that the US government could succeed in containing China's rise regardless of its heightened efforts to maintain the established world order through leveraging economic advantages and building closer alliances with allies.

Another reason Parameswaran gave is that American policymakers remain extremely divided over the China policy.

The Congress has consistently held a tough stance on China while the White House has long been a frenemy of China, with each US administration traditionally adjusting their China policies with the change of the international situation, according to Parameswaran.

The disagreements between the Congress and the White House could add to the uncertainties for the US-China relationship, said Parameswaran, who described the current bilateral relationship being full of "uncertainty", "ambiguity" and "unpredictability".

Over the past several months, the general relationship between the United States and China has strained due to trade frictions, with both sides threatening to impose punitive import tariffs on each other's goods.

While US President Donald Trump has escalated his import tariff threats against Beijing, which has vowed to take revenge, some congressmen and many American business groups have rallied behind the efforts to limit the authority of Trump, which some lawmakers say the US president is abusing with recent trade actions.

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