Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US Presidential campaign will not alter major trends of China-US relations, and there are three main reasons for that.
Firstly, the new resident will not put his full attention to China, because Trump’s first and foremost task is to mend the domestic trauma caused by America’s political system, through rebuilding public’s trust in the country’s politics and continuing the economic recovery work. Diplomatically, America will not counter China either, because Russia and China are both rivals of America geopolitically. It’s hard to predict whether Russia or China is presenting a bigger challenge for America.
Secondly, some of America’s “illusions” about China is shattering, which include that an economic collaboration between China and the US may lead to a change in China’s politics; and China could be America’s global strategic partner so that the two countries could avoid an explicit competition.
America’s business communities are also less passionate in canvassing for the China-US relationship than before, and such a negative attitude might continue in the next four years. It is not impossible that political relations between the two countries will cool and competition in trade will continue to grow.
Thirdly, the China-US relationship has come to an intersection, and the next four years will be an important historic period for a change in power equation between the two countries and for the global order. The tipping point of China-US relationship probably lies in the power shift between the two countries. The GDP growth does not fully explain the power shift, but it is an important index to show the power of a country, and at least could affect the other country psychologically. The closer the two countries get to the tipping point, the more obvious the change of America’s foreign policy toward China will be.
No matter how China and the US will handle their disputes and balance their interests in some regions in the next four years, it will play significant role in shaping the China-US relationship.
China and the US need to be more “mature” in handling their relationship, which requires not only a recognition of mutual interest but also calmness when facing disputes and conflicts. China will never replace America as the leader of the world, and neither could America change China based on their values and rules. Whether the two countries could figure out a new model of relationship based on this principle will be critical to not only the future China-US relationship but also the whole world.
An Gang is a senior scholar of the Pangoal Institution, a public policy research organization dedicated to the studies of innovation and entrepreneurship, macroeconomics and finance, as well as international relations.
(Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com)