No relationship is shaping the planet more. And no relationship seethes, across such a wide and consequential set of issues, with more tension and mistrust.
The United States and China are profoundly at odds on how people and economies should be governed. The two powers jockey for influence beyond their own shores, compete in technology, and maneuver for military advantages on land, in outer space and in cyberspace. But they are also major trade and business partners, making their rivalry more complex than those of the Cold War, to which it is sometimes compared.
That complexity was in full play when President Biden held a virtual summit with China’s top leader, Xi Jinping.
Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, has called managing the relationship with China “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.” Yet China has vexed American policymakers ever since Mao’s armies took control of the nation —…