2023 was eventful, to say the least from an international relations point of view. There are plenty of highlights for news media to review. But there are many important news that were under-reported which would not top the year-end review lists of the mainstream media. When a columnist writes a year-end review for the organic viewers, one of the struggles is what to include in the organic list. The challenge is that if the column's selected list is identical or similar to the mainstream media's lists, the comments on the listed items cannot echo the mainstream narratives to appear boring and repetitive. If the selected list contains items missed or neglected by the mainstream media, this column runs the risk of being tossed away as an irrelevant review. This is the reason that this author writes this introduction and requests readers' attention to read beyond the sub-title headings to find their organic views. The following is a review of 2023 events that may be abundantly reported or scarcely covered. They are selected using a dual-purpose scope, one with a micro-focus to discover the important observations and their critical consequences and the other with a tele-focus to project their impact on the world, especially the US-China Relations.
Review of Highly Covered Events and News in 2023
I. Russia-Ukraine War (R-U Conflict)
This began on February 24, 2022. The West Media sometimes cites February 20, 2014, as the beginning of the R-U conflict, when Russia annexed Crimea and supported pro-Russia separatists fighting the Ukrainian military. But the real cause of the 2022 war lasted throughout 2023 to now with no end in sight is the expansion of NATO, recruiting ex-Soviet States to join NATO. Ukraine being the closest neighbor of Russia posted a national security threat to Russia by its desire to be a member of NATO. The U.S., EU, and NATO supported the R-U war but missed a couple of chances to start a peaceful negotiation when Ukraine was gaining in the fighting. China had tried to promote a peace talk, but currently, the U.S. seems to have no end-game plan for this conflict, Now the support for Ukraine is waned with the world in recession, both the EU and the U.S. were exhausted in their military support, in addition, the U.S. partisan politics was thwarting Biden's continued support for Ukraine. The recent break-out of the Israel-Hamas conflict has stolen the limelight from the R-U war.
II. Taiwan Strait Crisis
Biden has inherited an anti-China foreign policy from Trump and made it a systemic national security concern across the board thus engaging trade tariffs, technology sanctions, and investment restrictions. Biden has leveraged the U.S. alliances and tried to form a NATO-like Quad+ (US., UK, Australia, Japan, + India) to stop China’s rise. However, the US 3D plan (Deterrence, détente, and Defeat China) may be sensible on paper but its implementation is far more difficult than wished. Thus, Taiwan was used as another pawn in its strategy to stir up another 'surrogate war'. The Taiwan Strait Crisis was widely reported by stories of US officials visiting Taiwan, 'promising' sales of military equipment to the island and offering 'unofficial' training to the Taiwan military force. These acts were all done under the ambiguous 'one China' policy. Taiwan is hyped by the media as the most dangerous place in the world and yet the Taiwan citizens express no desire for war nor any interest in engaging in this dancing with fire. On January 13th, 2024, Taiwan will have its presidential election, we will see a message from the election result, whether defeating the pro-independence DDP or not. President Xi's advice (three principles on unification with Taiwan) to Biden (indirectly to Taiwan citizens) in their San Francisco Summit indicated clearly that China will not use force unless peaceful reunification is impossible.
III. Israel-Hamas Conflict (I-P War)
On October 7th, 2023, the Israel-Palestine war broke out. This ongoing war started in 2023 has shocked the world simply because Israel has violated the international taboos in war behavior. The images of the atrocious bombings in Gaza have turned the world opinion against Israel and The U.S. for its unconditional support of Israel. Again, the U.S. does not seem to be able to rein in the Israeli military assault nor able to join the UN resolutions to stop the war. The U.S. reputation is damaged as reported by its mainstream media. At this point, the war is projected to go into 2024 with no endgame in sight. Biden, despite his low popularity rating and an F- grade on foreign policy from Rashid Khalidi (History Professor, Columbia University), Biden seems to be powerless as a world leader in dealing with the R-U war or I-P war. China on the other hand may play a positive role in 2024.
IV. Global South
The term, Global South (Asia, Africa, and South America), may not be familiar to many Americans but it has received a lot of news media attention. The U.S. has been wooing India for its new alliance strategy against China and India was happy to rise to the occasion to act like the leader of the Global South. The trend of growth in the Global South is clear, but its leadership is still evolving. The U.S. has attempted to promote the concept of The League of Democracy by selectively inviting members to join, but China has shown concrete deeds through international organizations such as BRICS, SCO, and BRI Initiative. China's role in the Global South is practical and fruitful despite the jealous opposition.
V. AI and Technology
Technology sanctions have become a principal tool for the U.S. to suppress China's rapid development. Semiconductor and IC technology is the major focus. Both China and the U.S. are hurt by the sanction of semiconductor technology which is also a key hardware ingredient for AI technology. AI has become a hot search and application item in 2023 since the ChatGPT surfaced. Using large digital data, search capability, and self-learning software, AI has become the technology of the future. AI progress in 2024 will be very significant but more significant will be US-China collaboration in AI for mutual benefits.
Under-Covered Events and News in 2023
Under-covered events and news will not be found easily. We list three items here to call readers' attention because they are impacting society with severe consequences.
I. International Political Paradigm Shift
This item includes the international movements generally exhibited by election results and government changes. One example is the Polish election which indicated a trend of going to a multiple-party system. The author has written about the pros and cons of multi-party democracy (less efficient but having a safety valve to replace a bad dominating party), Taiwan's 2024 election will be a test for its maturity (to replace DPP). Another example is the Argentine's election is moving in the opposite direction.
II. Migration and Refugees in the World
The migration and refugee problems generated by wars are hardly covered in detail by the news media. The above-mentioned wars are creating tragic problems for the world. Even the migrants from the U.S. border were not fairly reported.
III. Discrimination against Asians and Rising Crime in the U.S.
This discrimination was never treated fairly by the mass media in the U.S. The problems are heightened by the U.S.-China competition. The Asian population in the U.S. must increase their efforts in protest and self-protection. The U.S. hate crime has increased.
The U.S.-China relations and issues are reported daily in mass media, but sadly many of them are fake news and biased analyses. The U.S. dominates world media which tends to toot the same horn. China applies its law strictly to expel reporters who report fake news but that gives the West media an excuse to generate tons of fake news to catch eyeballs without doing fact-finding. However, recently, more honest reports and analyses on the U.S.-China issues seem to appear. Hence, this author entitles this column, “From 2023 to 2024, A Forward-Looking U.S. -China Relations!”