In China’s modern economic history, the Open Door Policy refers to a new policy announced by Deng Xiaoping in December 1978 to open the door to foreign businesses that wanted to set up in China. The reforms gradually led China away from a planned economy and Maoist ideologies, opened it up to investments and technology, turning China into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies with an extremely rapid poverty reduction.
China has been high on the agenda for all U.S. administrations since then and close economic and trading ties have been formed over the years. Despite the close economic relationship, there is an inherent conflict between the U.S. and China based on the different political systems and geopolitical interests. This conflict seems to grow stronger as China evolves and gain strength and try to increase its global footprint. The consensus among economists is that China will overtake the U.S. GDP to become the largest in the world in about 10-15 years.
As China is becoming stronger, they are also becoming more confident and assertive. This includes a more active approach to global investments, building up a stronger military, and more frequent threats to invade Taiwan.
U.S. secretary of state Anthony Blinken recently visited China and raised eyebrows as he told reporters that the U.S. does not support Taiwan independence. This is not long after the Biden administration repeatedly said that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense if China were to attack. It might not make sense, but in terms of China – U.S. relations, it seems to be fine not to make sense. There will be continued coexistence with many deep disagreements and an ongoing cloud hanging over the relationship.
In terms of global importance, China has been invested in projects and relationships on all continents. For years they have built strong links with South America, in particular Brazil, Chile and Peru. Even in the Caribbean, 10 countries participate in the Chinese global infrastructure project, the “Belt and Road” initiative, including Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. This might seem odd, but one reason might be that of the 12 United Nations members states that still recognize Taipai as a national capital, five are Caribbean. At some point, with a stronger Chinese economic influence in the region, this might change. Another reason might be to build stronger relationships close to the U.S.
Cuba is in particular sensitive to the U.S. given long-time hostility and that fact that it is less than 100 miles between the countries. Recent reports suggest that China is preparing to construct a joint military facility in Cuba. The U.S. is strongly opposing this. China’s plans might be long-term and aiming to build any sort of presence in Cuba, similar to the U.S. presence in Taiwan. After all, the U.S. has helped to train Taiwan’s military forces for decades and Taiwan sits roughly on the same distance from China’s shores as Cuba does from the U.S. The U.S. – China tension will most likely continue regardless of U.S. president. China will continue building a stronger global footprint at the same time as the U.S. increasingly prioritizes domestic issues and takes a less prominent global leadership role. Beware, China is evolving.