Two interesting takeaways. First, how rapidly public opinion on China has changed:
Opinion has historically been volatile, moving up or down by at least 10% in 2008-2011 and 2012-2016. These swings are rapid, which suggests to me that many voters have no fixed opinion on China. The optimistic take is that today’s deeply unfavourable views could change should the situation improve, and public opinion may not yet act as a constraint on political decision making. The longer tensions remain elevated, the greater the danger these views harden and eventually solidify into something akin to the instinctual distrust of Russia (there is a reason the proto-typical Hollywood villain is Russian).
This matters because of climate change. The foreign policy hawks on Biden’s team clearly see prize US national security intransigence over cooperating on climate change:
Optimistically, we are fast reaching the stage where it will be rational for individual states to pursue a green agenda independent of what the rest of the world does, especially now China has committed to net zero in 2060. It may also be possible for escalating national security tensions to go alongside national decarbonisation. They could become symbiotically linked, with each party racing for energy independence or leadership in green tech.
One of the accepted wisdoms of the last few decades has been that international cooperation is required to get important things done. Its corollary was that the nation-state was materially constrained by international forces beyond its control. These may be less and less true. It is a pressing question for us all and I will return to it again. For a riff on this question from the perspective of the EU, I recommend this debate between Streeck and Tooze in the LRB.