Big confrontation between US, China unlikely despite trade tensions

With the US and China embroiled in trade disputes, the likelihood of a fierce confrontation between the two powers remains slim as China wants stability before the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China scheduled to be held in fall, and due to the strong economic interdependence of the two countries, an American expert has said recently.

Michael Swaine, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the most prominent American analysts in Chinese security studies, said that the US and China urgently need a long-term, strategic plan to avoid structural conflicts, which might be fuelled by the North Korean nuclear crisis and the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Swaine admitted that the economic interdependence between the US and China was being undermined by the recent broad American investigation into China's trade practices.

Following a request from US President Donald Trump, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has started a probe into whether China is unfairly getting hold of American technology and intellectual property. The US investigation has been blamed by the Chinese Commerce Ministry as "unilateralism" and "protectionism".

Swaine also said that what North Korea would do next in response to the military alliance of the US, South Korea and Japan would affect the prospect of the China-US relations. On Tuesday, North Korea fired a missile that flew over the northern part of Japan, raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Globally, the uncertainties in the future of world economy and the rise of terrorist activities worldwide serve as another factor that would affect the US-China relations, as the solutions to these issues need cooperation between the two countries, according to the American expert.

He said that the US-China relationship is at a crossroad when the US is increasingly losing its grip on the Asia Pacific region while China is increasing influence over the region and even the world in a peaceful manner.

Despite divergences on many issues such as North Korea and the South China Sea, the US and China should manage the differences with a strategic vision and should increase mutual trust to avoid potential risks, said Swaine.

He pointed out that the US and China need more "real dialogues" as US President Trump has not formed a clear China policy, so Beijing finds it hard to assess it.

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