China-US relations have again drawn global attention after a Chinese high-altitude balloon, suspected of carrying surveillance equipment, was shot down off the Carolina coast by the United States military. Beyond concerns about espionage and national security, this incident captured the US government’s larger anxieties about China’s growing influence in international affairs, and its threat to long-standing American hegemony in transnational governance. On the economic front, as the US-led economic system faces ongoing criticism, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, the ‘Chinese model’ has emerged as a serious competitor. Another important development is China’s effort to redefine sovereign states — rather than international institutions — as the best guarantor of human rights.
In the first episode of this new occasional series looking at the past, present, and future of the US-led international order, our host Ben Zdencanovic is joined by the scholar of international relations Rosemary Foot. The two discuss the recent history of China-US relations, why China sees the Indo-Pacific bloc as the new NATO, and how the country seeks to reshape the norms dictating diplomacy and development.
Rosemary Foot is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations and a Research Associate at the Oxford China Centre. Her research interests and publications cover China-US relations, human-rights diplomacy, and Asian regional institutions. An Emeritus Fellow at St Antony’s College, she is the author of, most recently, China, the UN, and Human Protection: Beliefs, Power, Image (Oxford University Press, 2020).