China, US influencing each other’s policies
Published: Jan 31, 2018 09:33 PM

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

A major change in Sino-US relations in recent years has been the ever-increasing influence of each nation on the other's domestic politics. However, a certain lack of consideration of each other in formulating domestic policies is apparent.

US President Donald Trump's China policy in the past year has followed the tradition of regarding Beijing as a rival to motivate America. Challenges posed by China have been the necessary justification for the US' domestic policies.

This shows that the China factor has an ever increasing importance on the White House's decision-making. In the past few years, China's ability to shape relations with the US and the influence of China on some of Washington's domestic policies has risen sharply, whether China feels it or not.

China may have underestimated this change. The reason may be the Chinese government has to pay more attention to its domestic political situation and economic development as well as social stability. China has at times not given due weight to the far-reaching effect it may bring to the US' decision-making.

On the other side of the ocean, it's a tradition that the US government likes to overestimate China's rise and ignores the follow-up analysis of China's domestic political situation and agenda.

When China issued "Made in China 2025" strategy, Washington immediately took the opportunity to advance the idea of "America First."

American media aggravated concerns and fears of the US public over China's rise. In Davos, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said bluntly that Beijing's 2025 technology strategy is "a threat."

Worst of all, Trump's team has already portrayed China as a major and formidable competitor which could be even more dangerous than terrorism. China has been labeled a powerhouse that will gradually close its doors, hiding the further opening-up and reform that Beijing is likely to undertake. On Tuesday, in his maiden State of the Union address, Trump called China a "rival."

The White House is making up a China story in accordance with its own political manuscript, although this American version is far from reality.

This is the main reason why the two countries seem to meet each other halfway but are always headed for a clash. Is it a clash between two political systems? Of course not. In fact, the reason may be lack of coordination between the different types of political machinery.

One country calibrating its domestic policies considering its impact on the other is another challenge the Beijing-Washington relationship may face. Not giving a chance to the other side's media to speculate will be a clever choice.

Both sides should be more careful about the effect that formulation of domestic policy can have on each other. It will also discourage those who think one country wants to win at the expense of another.

Both sides should try their best to establish a political communication mechanism so that one party can learn more about the other's political intentions and processes in the domestic arena.

While this aim seems very difficult to achieve, it is really worth a try. If the two countries want to evade the old trap of clashes between a rising power and a present one, they have to make progress in this regard. That's the foundation for the coexistence of two different political systems.

The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn Follow him on Twitter at @dinggangchina