Such efforts to ameliorate U.S.-China diplomatic relations come amid growing tensions between the two economic giants. They also run parallel to U.S. efforts to strengthen ties with Indo-Pacific countries to limit Beijing’s influence.
Take, for example, President Joe Biden’s September 2023 trips to India for the G20 summit and to Vietnam, where U.S. competition with China was a focus of Biden’s discussions. While he was in Asia, Biden made several agreements in science, technology and supply chain security designed to bolster U.S. relations with India and Vietnam.
“I don’t want to contain China,” the president told reporters in Hanoi on Sept. 10, 2023, shortly after meeting with Vietnam’s communist party leader.
U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi echoed similar sentiments during an event held by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in New York City the following day.
But even if the U.S.’s stated goal isn’t to limit China’s global influence, its recent agreements with India, Vietnam and other countries may do exactly that.
What US-led G20 deals mean for China
The U.S. is actively looking for ways to blunt one of China’s best tools of influence: international loans.
During the G20 summit Sept. 9-10 in New Delhi, the U.S. pledged to help reform the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to make them more flexible in lending to developing countries to finance renewable energy, climate mitigation and critical infrastructure projects. Biden committed the first $25 billion to make those reforms possible and secured additional financial pledges from other countries totaling $200 billion in new funding for developing countries over the next decade.
The U.S. also signed onto a deal with the European Union, Saudi Arabia and India that will help connect the Middle East, Europe and Asia through rails and ports. Characterizing it as a “real big deal,” Biden said the rail and ports agreement would help stabilize and integrate the Middle East.
These plans are aimed at providing an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Commonly referred to as BRI, the initiative is China’s international infrastructure loan program. Over the past decade, Chinese government agencies, banks and businesses have loaned more than $1 trillion abroad, and 60% of the recipient countries are now in debt to these Chinese entities. The U.S. and other countries have long criticized BRI as “debt trap…