The Major Flashpoints Between China and the U.S.

An incumbent superpower and a rising one are finding coexistence increasingly difficult.

Jockeying for position in a changing world, the U.S. and China are facing off on all sorts of issues, most — but not all — involving economic rather than military might.

Here’s a rundown of some big disputes, some with significant real-world consequences and others that for now are mostly symbolic.

IMPACT: Significant
DISPUTE: The U.S. accuses China of increasing the scale of spying and influence operations over the past few years, including interference in domestic politics, stolen intellectual property, coercion of business leaders and threatening the families of Chinese Americans in China. China has denied allegations that it launched cyber attacks aimed at stealing state and trade secrets from the U.S. and its allies.
CONSEQUENCES: The State Department on July 22 ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston closed “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.” Two days later China demanded the U.S. close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu. On July 21, the Justice Department accused two Chinese hackers in an indictment of working for Beijing to steal or try to steal terabytes of data, including coronavirus research, from Western companies in 11 nations.

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