New landscape of U.S.-China relations
Mr. Cheng Li, director of the John. L. Thornton China Center of Brookings Institution, joined the Public Lecture Series of SZIDI on April 26th. In the context of the changing international order, Mr. Li deciphered the U.S.-China relations from four perspectives: Xi and Trump’s meeting, politics, economy and security.
He points out that few people has predicted the Xi and Trump meeting to take place in such a short period of time. It is also beyond expectation that the meeting has aroused very positive outcomes. Mr Li led us through an examination of Trump’s victory, his team, his stances on foreign policy, economic policy, China policy, and critical challenges in his China policy.
From accusing China as a currency manipulator and responsible for U.S. trade deficit to inviting Xi to his house in Florida, Trump has performed a seemingly dramatic change. However, Li believes that Trump has already cast positive signals upon his inauguration as the president. Trump is changeable but not complicated. His ideas are very straightforward. Trump surprised everyone during the family meeting by saying that “the relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding”.
Li indicates that the two leaders appear to be strong, with Xi’s Chinese Dream and Trump’s to Make America Great Again. Both of them make efforts to use social media, and both of them optimistic. They are keen to discover opportunities in face of adversity and turn it into something useful.
U.S.-China relation is in its critical moment, and China is sitting in a very good context. At the same time, we see the beginning of a good personal relationship between the two leaders, and similar sense of mission in the two leaders. Xi talks about historical responsibility; While though Trump has many defects, he is determined to do something. During Li’s new book release session last December, he predicted that Trump is either going to be one of the greatest president in the history of the United States, or he’s going to be defeated drastically. He will never fall in between.” It is true that Trump has a lot to do to change the current situation in the U.S. It might be the country’s last chance. However, due to his values and beliefs, there is a high possibility that he will be defeated. In general, he is a President with particular characteristics at a particular time. We don’t know for now how far he can go.
Having lived in China and U.S. for thirty years respectively, Li believes that we should have some imagination when looking at U.S.-China relations. According to Li, the two leaders have clear and strong inclinations. From their past experiences, we can see that they want to make U.S.-China relations to work. Speaking of Trump, Li thinks that every policymaker in the U.S. would know that it is not a good idea to be against China in face of so many challenges and difficulties. At the same time, Li recognizes the right decision made by Chinese government when Trump unleashed a range of negative comments against China when he first came out.
Li indicates that the future trend of U.S.-China relations will be contingent on how the two countries act in front of different interest groups, social class and their domestic publics. Both of the two economies are in a period of adjustment. It will not be easy to always think in the other’s shoes. And that is why we should resort to negotiations and cooperation to better understand each other in order to resolve disputes.