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China Must Prevent Any Attempt to Decouple China-US Economies

Decoupling the China-US economies will only embolden the US in containing China, argues researcher

By Xu Mouquan Updated Dec.6

The US is imposing increasingly harsh restrictions on US technology exports to China and Chinese investment, going far beyond what it needs to cut the trade deficit. American hardliners are even talking about moving the supply chain from Asia back home, decoupling the US and Chinese economies in the long run, said Scott Kennedy, a senior China expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Zhao Minghao, a senior researcher with The Charhar Institute, a Beijing-based think tank, writing for the Singapore-based Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, refuted the argument, saying many experts saw it as unrealistic. This includes Susan Thornton, a former acting Assistant Secretary of State who argued the US does not have the international mechanism to isolate China economically, and moreover by decoupling from China’s economy, the US itself will go bankrupt. 

For its part, China needs to acknowledge that the US now deems it as a long-term strategic rival, and decoupling will only embolden it to contain China, Zhao said. China should avoid following the tune of hardliners within the US, but instead listen to the reasonable voices from within the country. US President Donald Trump also faces pressures at home, economically and from international hotspot issues – meaning the space for maneuvering China-US ties is large. 

China’s new round of reform and opening-up can be a good chance to resolve the trade imbalance with the US and expand common benefits and cooperation, laying a solid economic foundation for bilateral ties. It needs to follow through on its reform promises and improve the business environment to create more policy dividends for foreign businesses, he proposed. 

It can use new platforms like the recent China International Import Expo to expand imports from the US, and promote at a suitable timing cooperation over energy, infrastructure and financial services. Cooperation with individual state governments in the US is also a good choice. It is important to prevent the economic competition from escalating to an "economic cold war," Zhao stressed.