A year ago, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping took a friendly stroll at a California estate to repair the fraying bonds between their two nations. It didn’t work.
Long-simmering disputes over cyber-espionage boiled over with this week’s U.S. government allegations that Chinese hackers stole trade secrets from five American corporations. Coming less than two weeks after the U.S. harshly criticized China’s movement of an oil rig into disputed waters in the South China Sea, the rising acrimony signals the two sides are moving farther apart.
“The relationship is clearly tipping in the direction of greater strategic competition, greater friction,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s strained, there’s no doubt about it.”
At risk if the relationship between the world’s two largest economies deteriorates is their cooperation on a host of concerns ranging from restraining nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea to preventing further damage to the environment.