U.S.-China Relations in 20182019: Trade War and the Process of Decoupling

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-6-85-93

Ya. Leksyutina (lexyana@ya.ru),
Saint-Petersburg State University, 7/9, Universitetskaya Emb., Saint-Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation

Abstract. In the post-Cold war period, U.S.–China relations have always been characterized by the presence of a large number of problems and contradictions, which, however, did not cancel the readiness of the two states to compromise and seek cooperation on global and regional issues. An important stabilizing foundation for these bilateral relations has always been the strong economic interdependence of the two countries, which has restrained the growth of political differences into prolonged crises of bilateral interaction. However, the arrival of Donald Trump in the American administration significantly shook the basics of U.S.–China relations. Motivated by a desire to eventually solve longstanding problems in the bilateral trade and economic relations by pressuring Beijing to change its economic practices, since 2018, Trump administration has imposed in several stages tariffs on almost all U.S. imports from China, placed restrictions on the ability of American firms to supply Chinese technology companies, labeled China a currency manipulator for the first time in a quarter century, etc. Beijing has reciprocated with imposition of tariffs on imports from the U.S. and other countermeasures, undertaken subtle changes of its economic practices, stringently rejecting to bring fundamental changes to its economic policies. Initiated by Trump’s actions, trade war with the PRC has launched the decoupling process in the U.S.–China economic relations – the destruction of deep economic interdependence between the two countries accumulated over the past four decades, specifically in high-tech industries. There are more and more clear signs that the U.S. trade war with China, which was originally based on economic reasons and motivation, has become a trigger for the development of structural and system contradictions between the two states. Having lost the once-stabilizing bilateral relations basis – the deep economic interdependence – the United States and China are becoming increasingly involved in a complex overall confrontation, falling into the so-called “Thucydides trap”.

Keywords: U.S.–China relations, trade war, China, the U.S., trade and economic relations, telecommunication companies, technologies


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For citation:
Leksyutina Y. U.S.-China Relations in 20182019: Trade War and the Process of Decoupling. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, No 6, pp. 85-93. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-6-85-93

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