Decoupling US from China is rhetoric that’ll be hard to realize

By Li Hong Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/1 12:56:14

China US Photo: GT

The Trump administration has ratcheted up an attempt to "decouple" with China, and now, a good number of American geopolitical analysts are also jumping on the bandwagon demanding a clear demarcation between the world's two largest economies, in their hardening perception that China's economy would suffer more and its rise would be contained. 

Are the US and China heading for a divorce, in the coming months or years? Do the two economic giants have "irreconcilable differences" between them - like two bitterly disgruntled spouses? 

It is true that the two countries' relations are increasingly fraught, as they bicker on trade, technology, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But the economic bond between the two powerhouses is here to stay, and their phase one trade deal will be kept intact. 

China's giant manufacturing machine will continue to make badly-needed medical equipment and other essential daily supplies to help Americans fight COVID-19 and weather the protracted and brutal recession. 

Spooked by the dismal opinion poll results just three months before the November US presidential election, the Trump government threw its weight around again, ordering China to shut its consulate in Houston, a move the incumbent president thinks will brighten his reelection chance. In a tit-for-tat action, Beijing ordered the US consulate in Chengdu to close. 

Meanwhile, Trump's hatchet men and women are ratcheting up China-bashing by criticizing this country's ruling communist party. 

In reality, it will be very difficult for the world's two major powers to separate or decouple because the two economies have been closely integrated and intertwined for the past 40 years. 

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Tens of thousands of American and Chinese companies are thriving on this bond and contributing to the same supply line. Billions of workers in US, China, and many other economies - including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand - rely on the same bond to support their families. 

China's economy is very important and indispensable to many countries. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the past five years the country's economy, working as the key engine, has contributed up to 30 percent of the world's annual growth.

Ever since the Trump administration launched an ugly trade war against China in late 2018, his government has been drumming up "decoupling" and urging US businesses to move back home and create manufacturing jobs in America. 

But, his call seems to have mostly fallen on deaf ears. 

To date, all large US companies continue to operate in the Chinese market. Just ask the executives of General Motors, Tesla, Apple, Honeywell, Qualcomm and Microsoft why they continue to investment in China, and the answer is simple and persuasive - China's market is colossal and still growing, and none are willing to leave.

And, these businesses are helping to diffuse claims by Trump's lieutenants, including China hawks such as Mike Pompeo and Peter Navarro, that China is an abuser of human rights. 

They know too well how just many people in the US have succumbed to the coronavirus which continues to spread in America, while China's government continues to take all-out, coordinated measures to clamp down on new outbreaks wherever they erupt in the country - in Beijing, Urumqi or Dalian. To protect people's lives no matter the cost is the most important human rights of any country. 

Regarding racial discrimination, they know too well how and why the Black Lives Matter movement has unfolded in the US. 

Some say a natural rivalry exists between the world's most powerful country and its most important rising power, but that does not necessarily have to lead to a "decoupling" of economic, educational and cultural links. They must resist the "cold war" mindset, and embrace the principle of fair, just and transparent competition.

The old saying goes: The Pacific Ocean is large enough for the two powers of China and US to coexist and interact peacefully. And, trillions of new wealth will be created and benefit the two peoples. 

In the coming decade, the two heavyweights are likely to eye each other with conscious suspicion, but they both ought to abide by the same code of conduct to avert any mishap. That will require respecting one another, and refraining from doing things that trample on the other's core interests. 

The author is an editor with the Global Times.



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