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

Dr. Ruan Zongze, Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow at the China Institute of International Studies:

The United States, make no mistake, will continue to be a major power, but the world is being ushered into a new era of an emerging multipolar global order. It is characterized by the unsettling direction of the U.S. and the rise of China. What happens between China and the United States will largely reshape the global geo-economic and geo-political landscape in the 21st century.

Conventional wisdom holds that the rise of the China means the demise of the United States. And the success of China in the World Trade Organization (WTO) means the failure of the WTO. The reality, however, tells a different story.

If history serves as a reminder, the China-U.S. relationship is by no means a zero-sum game. Surprisingly, recent history has shown that the relationship is productive as well as mutually beneficial.

Beijing and Washington forged strong ties to work to deter the Soviet threat during the Cold War period, to fight against terrorism after September 11, to prevent the global economy from collapsing amid the financial meltdown on Wall Street in 2008. Similarly China’s success in the WTO actually proves the success of the WTO as a whole, since it has brought about economic growth and prosperity for the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, now is a defining moment for the China-U.S. relationship. More than anybody in memory, President Donald Trump has challenged basic assumptions of the relationship that held true for the past four decades. The growing tensions between the world's top two economics have sparked debate and uncertainty over the future orientation of U.S.-China relations, and will definitely generate negative effects on the world economy.

Unlike the former Soviet Union, China has worked very hard to integrate itself into the current international system by recognizing de-facto American supremacy. Furthermore, China’s integration into the global system makes itself a stakeholder.

China is committed to champion an open world economy and a multilateral trade regime as global growth remains unsteady despite signs of recovery. Beijing called for concerted efforts in fostering new drivers for growth, promoting a more inclusive growth and improving global economic governance.

I trust that an eventual restoration of a more friendly and cooperative relationship should be expected. Yet Sino-American relations will head towards a bumpy road before they get better.