State of US-China relations: What are the dynamics of this reimagined Cold War?


Parsa Hassanpour

On campus, Andrew Xiao (’23) and Preston Elliott (’24) shake hands in light of the recent tension.

Tensions between the US and China are not anything new — the dynamics between the two superpowers have dominated the global arena for decades. Now, America is taking unprecedented action. With the CHIPS (or Chips and Science) Act, the US is attempting to foster economic independence from China, sparking immense controversy.

“I think, going forward, American politicians will cash in on fears of China to try and get elected and then take anti-Chinese positions,” said American exchange student in Taiwan Leonard Li (‘24)

Specifically, the CHIPS Act focuses on growing the American semiconductor industry. Semiconductors are among the most crucial products in the world, with every electronic being made up of countless “chips,” or semiconductors. 

Following factory shutdowns and unprecedented demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the semiconductor industry fell behind. Unable to keep up with orders, the world entered a semiconductor shortage, hiking the prices of products from cars to gaming consoles. 

“Building a national semiconductor industry is a good thing. Lowering dependency on China is always good,” said Li

By promising $280 billion towards both research and production efforts in America’s semiconductor industry, the Biden Administration is attempting to foster an America that is no longer dependent on China for the production of electronics and other forms of technological equipment.

In addition, a provision was recently added to limit the growth of American semiconductor manufacturers overseas, hoping to keep them solely within the US. Such action generated controversy at home as well as abroad.

“I don’t like the idea of containing American chipmakers just for operations within America. There’s no reason for us to overstep like that,” said Li.

Taiwan, Vietnam, and South Korea, all with ties to the US, have voiced their concerns of America’s bid for chip independence. The three nations are among America’s biggest semiconductor exporters, making up over $4 billion worth of America’s $12.5 billion chip industry.

China, trading $1 billion of semiconductors with the US, fears the implications of growing US independence, publicly condemning the Chips Act. 

“Take a look at The CHIPS and Science Act. A perfect example of overreacting and coercion. The US cannot boss the world around to do its bidding. Don’t be an insufferable bully playing an ‘innocent’ saint,” said Chinese spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

The CHIPS Act serves as a reminder of the strained relations between China and the US, with spectators fearing the potential aggravation of China, reminding the world of the dangerous manifestations of such aggression.

“China holds that, since Taiwan must be a part of China, strives to officially unify the two. No country would be willing to give up a region that was once part of it,” said Leo He (‘25)

With the rivals’ futures uncertain, the CHIPS Act represents the dawn of a new era in Sino-American relations.

“For politicians, ‘tough on China’ will be the new ‘tough on crime,’” said Li.