File this one in the "understatements" category.
While recent US relations with Russia plumbed lows unseen since the Cold War, at the same time "succeeding" in cementing relations between Russia and China, the so-called Eurasian, anti-Petrodollar axis, and leading to an accelerated groundbreaking natgas deal between Kremlin and Beijing, at least the department of state had managed to not completely alienate China. Which maybe why China just issued a rather out of place tongue-in-cheek warning overnight, when China’s President Xi Jinping called for greater military communication with the U.S., saying as he opened high-level talks between the two countries that any conflict would be a global disaster.
As Bloomberg reported, China needs a stable environment “more than ever,” and it’s inevitable that the two sides will have some disputes, Xi said at the Diaoyutai guest house before the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing.
And here is where things got a little heated: "A conflict between China and United States will definitely be a disaster for the two countries and the world,” Xi said. “As long as we uphold mutual respect, maintain strategic patience and remain unperturbed by individual incidents and comments, we’ll be able to keep relations on a firm footing despite ups and downs that may come our way.”
In other words, if the US pushes the "individual incidents and comments" just a bit too far, then all bets are off.
China remains suspicious over President Obama’s intention to rebalance its military forces to Asia, seeing the move as emboldening countries with which it has territorial disputes. Under Xi, China has tested U.S. alliances in the region by pressing its claims to a large part of the South China Sea, riling Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
What he failed to address is that for all the surface pleasantries, US relations with China - aside from recent geopolitical incidents involving such US allies as Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam - have also neared lows not seen in years, especially considering the virtual boycott of US tech companies in the aftermath of the Snowden NSA revelations, not to mention the US escalation in the spying scandal, in which it charged three PLA members with hacking and spying (even as it was doing just that to its closest European ally, Germany).
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew arrived yesterday for the sixth round of the dialogue, this year aimed at rehabilitating relations strained by differences over cyber espionage and escalating maritime disputes between China and U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific. A year after U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi declared their support for “a new model of major power relations,” the two countries face two days of negotiation over issues from climate change to global security.
“The United States and China will not always see eye-to-eye on every issue,” Obama said in a statement released as the talks got underway in Beijing. “That is to be expected for two nations with different histories and cultures.”
While that is expected, what is also expected when any superpower is in decline is that those ascendent countries which believe they can challenge a hegemon's economic, financial and military might, will rise up and make veiled threats that said hegemon should respect a status quo which benefits them if not so much the US. All the hegemon has in its arsenal at that point is threats of diplomatic retaliation which what it is actually doing is appeasing the challengers, as the US has done with Russian expansion in Crimea.
And as Great Britain knows too well, the path from appeasement to final loss of reserve currency status is a very short one.