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US-China confrontation - "We are already in the middle of the Ice Age"

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The US government has ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston. The reason for the step is the protection of intellectual property and the data of US citizens. Beijing denied the allegations and threatened retaliation.

For ARD correspondent Steffen Wurzel in Shanghai, the events show how far the conflict between the two superpowers has already progressed.

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Steffen Wurzel reports for the German public TV broadcaster ARD from Shanghai.

SRF News: China threatens retaliation for the closure of the consulate in Houston. What can we expect from Beijing?

Steffen Wurzel: In China, it is assumed that Beijing will close one of the US consulates in the country. In addition to the embassy in Beijing, there are five US consulates in China. The state media are now suggesting that either the consulate in Chengdu or the one in Wuhan will be closed.

The US government justifies the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston with the fact that US citizens must be protected from intimidation and data theft. Is there something to it?

It's hard to tell from here. In any case, it is noticeable that there is a temporal connection to the allegations of the past few days that Chinese hackers are said to have penetrated various corona research databases in the USA.

US media see a connection with the hacking allegations of the past few days.

US media - as far as I can tell from Shanghai - definitely establish a connection between the two events.

After the closure order, employees at the Houston consulate apparently burned files in abundance. Do you really have something to hide, or is that a common practice?

The effect of these images is actually enormous: It seems that someone obviously has something to hide and wants to make dubious documents disappear.

Burning files is much faster than shredding them.

But one has to assume that not only highly explosive espionage files were destroyed there, but also normal bureaucratic files, which the USA should not get their hands on after the site was cleared. Apparently, this is common practice because it is much faster to burn files than to shred them.

The dispute between the USA and China has been simmering for a long time. Has a new escalation level been reached now?

You can definitely see it that way. After the economic decoupling - the spiral of mutual punitive tariffs began two years ago - the social decoupling since the beginning of the year - there is no longer any exchange between tourists and students - diplomatic decoupling is now obviously beginning.

Obviously, diplomatic decoupling is now beginning.

The dispute gives the impression that the US is putting forward and China is following suit. Does the new escalation also fit into this dynamic?

That is the Chinese perspective, which is also conveyed in the Chinese media. In the USA, of course, the view is completely different: there the prevailing opinion is that the USA only reacts to provocations, lies and promises that China has not kept. This applies to geopolitics, industrial espionage or human rights.

In Europe, people probably don't see the conflict that way.

Is there now a threat of a diplomatic ice age between the two great powers?

We are probably already in the middle of this ice age. In Europe you might not see it that way. But the trend that a major, new, geopolitical conflict of principle arises between two superpowers has been around for two years. The events in Houston only underline that.

The interview was conducted by Christina Scheidegger.

SRF 4 News from July 23, 2020, 6:15 a.m. srf / snep

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  • Comment from Harald Buchmann (Harald_Buchmann)
    One can only hope that China will find all the data on vaccinations against Corona in the USA, because China is committed to sharing such data with the world. The capitalist USA say, first only for Americans, then only for those who can pay.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Commentary by Johann Meier (H.J. Meier)
    China holds US debt securities worth around $ 1.2 trillion, so it is almost a kind of second national bank for the United States. Seen in this way, China lends the Americans the money for their consumption by buying government bonds. After diplomatic decoupling, will economic decoupling also follow? But: how do the Americans get out of this mountain of debt?
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Johann Meier (H.J. Meier)
      With so much money I wonder if they're enemies at all or just pretending to be. It's an election campaign and Trump needs votes, so it's not really the time for disputes, so why not pretend hostility and then heroically proclaim peace at the last second?
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers
  • Comment from Margrit Berger (mberger)
    If you followed the events, you could very well observe how the Trump administration deliberately provoked, interfered in China, carried out propaganda and spread rumors. Who is surprised that the strengthened China can no longer put up with it ?! As soon as Trump comes under domestic criticism, he plays the strong man in foreign policy. This conflict is being kept simmering and, if helpful to Trump's ambitions, it may be made to blaze again.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Harald Buchmann (Harald_Buchmann)
      Unfortunately too much to ask for Western journalists.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers

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