America and China: Destined for Conflict or Cooperation? We Asked 14 of the World's Most Renowned Experts

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping make joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
July 30, 2018 Topic: Security Region: Asia Tags: ChinaAsiaTrumpIndo-PacificAsia-PacificXi Jinping

America and China: Destined for Conflict or Cooperation? We Asked 14 of the World's Most Renowned Experts

The National Interest asked 13 scholars and experts to respond to the following question: Given growing tensions between the United States and China, where do you see the overall relationship headed? Towards a permanent state of competition? 

Check out other comments in this series from: Graham AllisonGordon G. ChangDavid DenoonMichael FabeyJohn GlaserJames HolmesLin GangKishore MahbubaniRobert RossRuan ZongzeRobert SutterXie TaoXu Feibiao and Wang Jisi

Xu Feibiao, Director for the Division of Trade and Investment Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations: 

No one would deny that the relationship between the U.S. and China, the biggest power on this planet and the emerging big power, is the most important and complicated one in the 21st century.

For the last forty years, especially after the opening up and reform in China in the 1970s, the Sino-U.S. relationship has become increasingly consolidated through ups and downs. The two countries are so integrated economically and financially that any disruption in bilateral relation would lead to great losses and market vibrations in both countries and even the whole world.

Consider these facts: U.S. enterprises in China make profits of more than $200 billion every year, and China exports annually more than $500 billion in goods to the United States, the majority of which are produced, exported, and turned into profit by companies from America and other foreign countries.    

The two countries have increasing entwined interests in this globalized and interconnected world, and both of them benefit greatly from the relationship. From Chinese perspective, an improved and consolidated Sino-U.S. relationship usually means a favorable external development environment for China, which is desperately needed, not to mention the technology, capital, and the huge market of the U.S., which are all important factors for China’s economy.

From the U.S. side, the benefits are also huge and obvious. It has greatly advanced America’s strategic interests, such as balancing and weakening the Soviet Union, winning the Cold War and the war on terror and countering the proliferation of WMDs. The relationship will continue to reap benefits for the U.S. in the future in such issues as climate change, countering extremism, bringing peace to the Korean peninsula and solving problems with Iran, cyber security and so on.

The huge volume of cheap and high-quality goods from China, the second largest market in the world, also benefits the U.S. greatly. One thing worth noting is that during and after the financial crisis, China has continued to buy trillions of dollars in U.S. debts and assets, and has anchored her currency to the dollar, which acts to help maintain the predominant role of the U.S. in the current international monetary system.

That trajectory of bilateral relations and deepening interlocked interests of both countries mean that Sino-U.S. relations will stay stable for the near future.    

Of course, there will be more and more disruptions and frictions in the next few years because of the ‘Trump shock’ from the American side. To a large extent, the media over exaggerate the ongoing ‘trade war.’ There is a small possibility that the two countries would turn against each other as enemies, but it is also not likely that the two will become good friends. This time the adversary facing U.S. is different: a nuclear giant that is dedicating to opening up and the building up of a community of common destiny.