Will China-US decoupling continue after COVID-19?

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/11 21:39:14

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

The "decoupling" between China and the US has been partially accelerated amid the coronavirus pandemic. China-US trade in the first four months slumped 12.8 percent year-on-year after a 10.7 percent drop in 2019, while the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become China's largest trading partner with a 5.7 percent increase in the first four months.

A trade slide is within expectations as global trade has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and trade negotiation representatives from China and the US have maintained communication. Yet some US politicians are trying to instigate a decoupling from China under the guise of pandemic prevention.

Though a certain level of industrial restructuring or retreat after the pandemic is understandable due to public security concerns, an unreasonable decoupling drawn by political forces cannot persist. Only cooperation - in certain areas - will gain maximum profits under market principles.

From China's perspective, it has adopted a cooperation strategy adjustment against the backdrop of the new phase of globalization. Cooperation reduction is needed in certain areas and enhancement in others.

In fact, China's investment in the US has been declining in recent years, alongside less bilateral cooperation and communication in social and cultural sectors, among others. 

However, Chinese firms have maintained an active attitude toward development overseas. 

US firms, by contrast, have lost advantages in today's Chinese market. It now seems that they long for further cooperation with the Chinese market, yet rejoice when the US government clamps down on China - which could allow them to seize more profits.

Such a scenario is actually harmful for the US side in the long term, and a critical step would be to figure out a sustainable and promising development path, rather than acquiring short-term profits at the cost of benign growth.

Instead of insulting China alongside some US politicians in return for short-term profits, US firms should step up efforts to get back on a reasonable development track.

Although the acceleration of a partial decoupling is inevitable during or after the pandemic, the cooperative fundamentals of the two giant economies still exist. As COVID-19 continues to rip through the world, it is more important to practically promote the reasonable implementation of the phase one trade deal under the principle of mutual benefit.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Diao Daming, a US studies expert at the Renmin University of China in Beijing. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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