A Plethora Of US-China Disputes

This file photo shows flags of the US and China placed ahead of a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing. (AFP Photo)

The United States (US) and China are at loggerheads over a long list of issues, from the cause of the novel coronavirus to Hong Kong, and trade.

An overview, after Washington ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston within 72 hours, accusing it of being a centre for spies.


Washington and Beijing have been engaged in a war of words over who is to blame for the novel coronavirus, since Trump described it as a "Chinese" virus in March.

China's Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian retorted by suggesting that the US army might have brought the epidemic to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where it first emerged late last year.

The two superpowers then cracked down on each other's news outlets.

In May the foreign ministry pointed to American errors in the handling of the pandemic, while Trump fired back it was "incompetence of China and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing."

Vaccine Hacking 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in May warned healthcare and scientific researchers that Chinese-backed hackers were attempting to steal research and intellectual property related to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

On 21 July, two Chinese nationals were indicted in the US for allegedly hacking hundreds of companies worldwide.

Hong Kong

Washington reacted to China's imposition of a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong by ending preferential trade treatment for the former British colony.

It also restricted visas for Chinese officials seen as infringing on the city's autonomy and stopped the export of sensitive technologies.

China pressed ahead with the law in late June.


The US earlier in July froze the assets and imposed visa bans on several officials from China's northwestern region of Xinjiang over rights abuses of its Turkic speaking minority.

It accused the group of "horrific and systematic abuses" in Xinjiang including forced labour, mass detention and involuntary population control.

It then put 11 Chinese companies suspected of taking part in the persecution on a black list, limiting their access to American technologies and products. 

Washington says more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking minorities have been rounded up into a network of internment camps.

China contends that the facilities are vocational education centres.

Trade War

Weary of its hefty trade deficit with China, Washington declared a trade war in March 2018. It quickly escalated with tit-for-tat punitive duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of bilateral trade.

After truces and resumptions of hostilities, the two superpowers in January 2020 signed an initial accord under which China agreed to buy an extra US$200 billion of US imports over two years.

But earlier this month Trump said he does not plan to proceed to the second phase of the accord, as relations with China have been seriously damaged.


The US has accused Chinese telecoms giant Huawei of spying for Beijing and of rights abuses by allowing the Chinese regime to carry out surveillance of dissidents. It is also accused of installing large scale surveillance technologies in Xinjiang and non-respect of the embargo on Iran.

Trump's administration has stepped up sanctions against the worldwide leader in 5G and has pressured allies, such as Britain, to shun the group.

South China Sea 

On 2 July, the US Defense Department criticised Chinese military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, in an area also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Two days later, the Pentagon said two of its own aircraft carriers had carried out drills in the South China Sea to "support a free and open Indo-Pacific".

Nuclear Talks

In early July Beijing rejected a new US invitation to join arms control talks with Russia.

Trump's administration has demanded that China take part in talks on a successor to the New START treaty, which caps the nuclear warheads of the United States and Russia - the two Cold War-era superpowers. - AFP