Sputnik discussed the arrest with David O'Brien from the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham in Ningbo China.
Sputnik: What impact can the latest move by the US to arrest a Chinese national on spy charges have on the already strained US-China relations?
Sputnik: Also Donald Trump accused Beijing of interfering in other nations affairs, specifically, he spoke of the fact that he thinks that China's interfering in the US midterm election or trying to do so in any case, what do you make of those accusations, are these just another part of the overall worsening, the souring of relations and finger-pointing and accusing that comes along with that?
David O'Brien: That's right, that was an interesting allegation because it seems that it was based on an advertisement taken out by the Chinese Embassy I think it was in a newspaper in Iowa challenging some aspects of the US trade embargo in an area which is very heavily affected by it because there is a lot of soy grown in Iowa and there's a lot of trade between the two countries on that.
And President Trump seems to have interpreted that as an attempt on the Chinese government of interfering in the midterm elections; now whether or not it is or it's not, it's hardly a particularly sophisticated attempt and advertisements taken out by embassies and governments is not new, but I do think his allegations and an increasingly tense atmosphere between the two countries is certainly apparent.
And when we think about where the situation was just a few months ago when Donald Trump was inaugurated and when relations between the two men personally seemed so warm it's striking that the relation between the two countries has now entered a period where it is certainly the worst that I've seen in my years, of 10 or 15 years of traveling and living in China, and I think there's danger that this could escalate beyond just a trade war into something which could become more problematic for the relations between the two countries.
Sputnik: What do you think about the timing of this, of these accusations? Of course, they coincide with the actual incident that you mentioned with the ad being taken out, but who is to really benefit from those claims? Do you think that a farmer who saw an ad that perhaps supports some of his fears regarding what's going to happen with his soybean crop, do you think that that's really going to sway the farmer to vote differently?
When he's speaking to an Iowa farmer, he's speaking in many different ways and one is certainly the midterm election, but another would be to indicate that Trump's administration will continue to use China as a kind of a bogeyman as it were, who are being blamed for many of the ills of the United States at the moment. There's no indication that that's going to lessen anytime soon, perhaps if the results in the midterm elections are poor and there's a feeling that his base is sliding then the attacks on China may increase because they have worked before.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.