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U.S. and China: Collision or cooperation?

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In a surprise announcement at the Glasgow summit, U.S. climate czar John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart declared that their two countries have pledged to work together to slow global warming.

Yet, the arrival a day earlier in Taiwan of a U.S. Navy plane from Clark Air Base in the Philippines, carrying a U.S. congressional delegation, set off a different reaction from Beijing:

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will … take all necessary measures to resolutely smash any interference by external forces and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist plots.”

The incidents touch on one of the great questions of our time.

Are China and the U.S., the world’s preeminent powers, headed for a clash or a level of engagement that will enable us both to avoid either a hot war or a second Cold War?

In the 10 months since Joe Biden became president, the pessimists seem to have been largely proven right.

Just six weeks into the Biden presidency, the U.S., in its annual human rights report, declared: “Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

This U.S. equating of China’s behavior with the war crimes for which Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg set the table for what has followed.

China’s behavior toward the new Biden administration has been almost uniformly hostile and contem

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