China has consistently oscillated between economic and political friend and foe of the U.S. In media reports on China’s political and economic matters, we can observe a growing fear and animosity toward the nation as its power expands to create an increasingly bipolar world. In my experience, this has created an emotional atmosphere for discussions surrounding U.S.-China relations, where deviations from this mainstream view on China are often taken as an existential threat to American liberalism, democracy, national security and prosperity.
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In the past month, the Florida state government has released various bills that encroach upon the rights of people of color, gay and trans individuals. On March 14, it was revealed that Florida House Bill 999, Postsecondary Educational Institutions, has prohibited universities from financing any activities “that espouse diversity, equity, or inclusion or Critical Race Theory rhetoric.” Another bill addressing racial matters was issued this year, and the Florida Department of Education banned AP African American studies in all public high schools.
Since the inception of the communist party, China has had contentious relationships with major foreign powers, and its political structure has been under the scrutiny of the international community. Academics and politicians across the world have studied China in an attempt to understand its development. Much of the analysis on China is, however, conducted through the lens of international relations and political science. The heavily theoretical nature of this approach obscures a more intimate, cultural understanding of China.
When the coronavirus first began to spread across the world, countries were gripped by fear and uncertainty. At the initial stages of the pandemic, China and the United States demonstrated two starkly different approaches to handling the virus. China immediately implemented strict centralized efforts: Lockdowns were put into place and new hospitals were built within weeks. The U.S. however was sorely lacking in efficient and organized efforts. The country faced mass shortages of medical resources and was led by a president who downplayed the severity of the situation and exacerbated many Americans’ distrust of scientific guidelines.