Nicholas Burns, the Biden administration’s Ambassador to China, said in an interview published Friday that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government has become stronger than the Soviet Union ever was.
Burns said in an interview with Politico that comparisons of the current rivalry between the U.S. and China with the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union can be helpful at times, but that they aren’t exact. He explained that China’s economic power makes it unlike any rival the U.S. has faced on the global stage before.
How tough is it to be Biden’s point man in Beijing these days? Pretty tough. @USAmbChina Nicholas Burns dishes on the challenges of U.S.-China diplomacy in the shadow of a possible new Cold War in today’s @politico Global Insider https://t.co/G1bTHryHuz
— Phelim Kine “老 康“ (@PhelimKine) April 28, 2023
“When I think about the power that the Soviet Union had from the late 1940s into the early 90s, it was nothing like the power and the strength that China is exhibiting on the world stage,” Burns said. “The Soviet Union was a colossal power. Its nuclear dimensions. Its military dimension when it had hundreds of thousands of troops in East Germany facing Americans in the Fulda Gap and on the north German plain. But the power of the People’s Republic of China is infinitely stronger than the Soviet Union ever was.”
Burns has direct knowledge of the issue. A career diplomat, he served as Director of Soviet Affairs, followed by Russian Affairs, under former President George H.W. Bush. He was also a Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs for former President Bill Clinton. (RELATED: Dem Rep Tied To Alleged CCP Front Groups Claims Criticizing China Will Get Asian Americans Killed)
“And it’s based on the extraordinary strength of the Chinese economy — its science and technology research base, its innovative capacity, and its ambitions in the Indo-Pacific to be the dominant power in the future,” Burns continued. “I do think the challenge from China is more complex and more deeply rooted and a greater test for us going forward.”
Some analysts have characterized the currently deteriorating relationship between Beijing and Washington as a new Cold War. The Biden administration has rejected such an aggressive description, frequently calling the CCP a government it needs to cooperate with on some big issues and compete with in other areas.