On US-China relations:The US is increasing pressure on Chinese core interests including Hong Kong, Taiwan and SCS to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated distractions are not seized as an opportunity for Beijing to solidify its core interests.
In Hong Kong, the US has said it will remove Hong Kong’s special status as a response to the adoption of a national security law that destroys Hong Kong’s one country two systems model. This will handicap the internationalization of the RMB and further weaken the Chinese economy.
In Taiwan, the US has verbally congratulated President TSAI and stepped up various forms of support challenging Beijing’s claims that the island is a province of China.
In the SCS, naval exercises by the US and its allies demonstrate that China’s expansive claims of control are not based on facts on the seas.
Expect the US to further escalate pressure unilaterally and with its closest partners to push back against Chinese assertive behaviour and predatory actions to take advantage of the covid-19 pandemic related instability to assert its core interests. ASEAN states like Vietnam need to be crystal clear that the Covid 19 period is a window of vulnerability with regards to its disputes in the SCS and Beijing may use it to further consolidate their claims.
Take home: 1) US-China competition in the region is comprehensive and deepening 2) Acceleration of the selective economic and technological decoupling