Given US-China Trade War, China Should Focus Elsewhere, Nanjing University Professor Writes

Title: Trade and Science and Technology Wars and the “Paradigm Shift” in Sino-U. S. Relations (贸易战、科技战与中美关系的“范式变化”)
Journal: Asian-Pacific Security and Maritime Affairs (亚太安全与海洋研究)
Author:Zhu Feng, Nanjing University (朱锋)
Publication Date: July 2019

  • Nanjing University professor Zhu Feng writes that Trump’s policy towards China represents a paradigm shift in US thinking about US-China relations, with more China hawks in the White House and Pentagon than ever before. Consensus is also emerging more broadly in both the Democratic and Republican parties that the United States should take a more aggressive stance towards China.

  • China needs more robust relationships with other countries, especially developed economies, to become a global technology and military leader. But challenges abound. The US will increase pressure EU countries to pick sides amidst a US-China spat, as it did to Canada in the Huawei CFO arrest case. The most important challenge for China will be “not just how to cooperate with third-party markets, but how to reduce the impact and influence of third-party forces (i.e., the United States),” Zhu writes.

  • The US-China dispute highlights the need for China to rethink how it prioritizes its global relationships. Zhu recommends China pursue four strategies:

  1. Continue to manage the US-China relationship to try to get things back on track.

  2. Upgrade relations with Europe. Despite challenges here (Europe is increasingly nationalistic and protectionist, he writes), China does have success stories to draw from. Greece and Italy recently signed on to the Belt and Road Initiative. The UK and Germany also agreed to allow Huawei to invest in “non-core” 5G technologies, despite US pressure.

  3. Prioritize improving relationships with neighboring economic powers, especially Japan and South Korea.

  4. Continue to invest in the Belt and Road Initiative and deepen engagement with developing economies.

Note: China’s Ministry of Commerce reprinted this article on its website. Zhu Feng is dean at the Institute of International Relations at Nanjing University and executive director of the China South China Sea Research Center of Nanjing University. He was previously the deputy president of the Institute of Strategic & International Studies, professor at Peking University, and co-edited America, China, and the Struggle for World Order with John Ikenberry and Wang Jisi.