2020: Chinese on US vs. PRC Economy, Science, Education, Outlook for Bilateral Relations

Today I came across this set of three articles comparing the US and China in various dimensions and considering the outlook for bilateral relations.

These three articles are translated below.

  • Comparing US and PRC Statistical Indicators
  • Re-conceptualization of Sino-US Relations under the New Situation  by Zhang Hongzhi (former member (deputy minister) and editorial reviewer of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China)
  • The Evolution of U.S.-China Relations, Lessons from History and New Factors Affecting the Future by Zhang Baijia (former deputy director of the CPC History Research Office)

I did a quick translation using DeepL and then reviewed the text for accuracy and added some formatting.

The statistics are interesting although straight-off comparisons can be difficult if for example differencces in inflation and purchasing power parity are not considered.

The clear-eyed articles by Zhang Hongzhi and Zhang Baijia I found more interesting than the statistical comparisons. They are serious people, not wolf warriors or foaming-at-the-mouth Global Times journalists. They see that Cold War analogies with the current unpleasantness in US – China bilateral relations are wrong. The US and China are far more involved in each others economies and in other aspects of out national lives such as science, technology and education than the US and the Soviet Union ever were. During the Cold War the world was split into two largely separate blocs; today the world and China in particular have benefited spectacularly by being part of one world. China’s economic growth since 1978, can be attributed largely to ending a thirty year detour into extreme Maoism, realizing productivity gains from improved technology and opening up to the outside world which brought in capital and perhaps as important business management skills from the Chinese disapora in SE Asia and elsewhere as well as from foreign investors.

 Their analysis is typical in the sense that it puts all the blame for deteriorating relations on the US and ignores the decade of Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.  Understandable when you live in China. The increasing ideology rigidity and repression of dissidents seen in China over the past decade and the (as always) hyper sensitivity of the Chinese Communist Party [I imagine this sensitivity and ever-stronger media controls and the ever-faster publication rate of the leader’s wise books to be a sign of weakness rather than strength] to foreign criticism will likely produce some unhappy incidents in the future. One can quibble, but Zhang Hongzhi and Zhang Baijia, both professional Communist Party historians, are worth reading — as historians perhaps they benefit from the long view. The quality of work on the history of the Chinese Communist Party done within China has become much better and interesting over the past two decades [though increasingly battered under Xi!]. Not just propaganda sheets anymore. See for example some of my earlier translations:

Excerpted from | Macro Strategy


文摘自 | 宏战略

Before and after the trade war, some people believe that China’s economic, technological, educational, cultural and military strengths have surpassed those of the United States, while others believe that China will not be able to surpass the United States in 100 years, and the arrogant and delusional argue more than once. Two years ago, we compared the gap between China and the U.S. with 40 indicators in our book “Filling the Second Economic Power Trap: The Gap Between China and the U.S. and Where It’s Going”. Two years later, for the first time, the number of China’s Fortune 500 companies surpassed that of the United States, and the business environment improved 32 places from the previous year, with the same 40 indicators, with the United States leading in 68% of the indicators and China leading in 32%. Our leading indicators are still quantitative indicators, the U.S. economy has a clear advantage in quality indicators, and the gap between China and the U.S. in science, technology and education indicators is even greater.

I. National Power Patterns: A Developed Country and a Developing Country

The Gap between a Developed and a Developing Country

The United States is the only superpower in the world today, ranking first in the world in economy, science and technology, education and military power, and is the world’s economic, scientific and technological, talent and military center. Data show that the United States has strong comprehensive national power and high quality development, while China has fast growth and high development potential. The gap between the comprehensive national power of China and the United States is quite obvious, and some gaps are difficult to be bridged in the short term. The “China threat theory” and “China overtaking theory” lack scientific basis, and the “China development theory” is the hard truth.

1. Population: China is 4.3 times larger than the United States

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, China’s total population in 2019 is 1.4 billion, the U.S. is 329 million, China’s land area and population are 1.0 times and 4.3 times that of the U.S. The U.S. urbanization rate is 20 percentage points higher than that of China, and the aging rate is 5 percentage points higher than that of China.

2. Arable land per capita: the U.S. is 5.2 times larger than China

According to the World Bank, the arable land area of the United States was 152,263,000 hectares in 2016, accounting for 10.1% of the world’s total arable land area (150,151,000 hectares), which is the largest arable land area in the world, with 0.47 hectares per capita. China has 118.9 million hectares of arable land, with 0.09 hectares per capita, and the United States has 5.2 times more arable land per capita than China.

3.  The establishment of diplomatic relations: the United States than China 10 more

As of the end of September 2019, all countries in the world except North Korea, Iran and Bhutan, which are 3 countries that have established diplomatic relations with the U.S. There are 180 countries that have established diplomatic relations with China, and there are 10 more countries that have established diplomatic relations with the U.S. than China. According to the “Global Diplomacy Index” report released by the Australian think tank, the Lowy Institute for International Policy in November 2019, China’s total number of foreign offices is 276, three more than the U.S. China has surpassed the U.S. and has the world’s largest diplomatic network.

4. Per capita income: the U.S. is 8.4 times that of China

In 2018, China’s per capita disposable income was about 28,228 yuan, which was about $4,265.7 according to the exchange rate of that year, and the U.S. per capita income was $36,000, and the U.S. per capita disposable income was 8.4 times of China.

5. Consumption expenditure per capita: the United States is 15.2 times that of China

In 2018, the per capita consumption expenditure of Chinese residents was about US$2,823, while that of the United States was US$43,000, and the per capita consumption expenditure of the United States was 15.2 times that of China.

6. Residents’ savings rate: China is 4.8 times that of the United States

Since the 1970s to the present, China’s resident savings rate has always remained at the forefront of the world, since 2010, China’s resident savings rate has continued to decline, and in 2018, China’s resident savings rate was 36.8%, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the resident savings rate in 2018 was about 7.6%.

7. Housing area per capita: the United States is 1.7 times that of China

According to the data of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the per capita housing floor area of the country’s residents in 2018 was 39 square meters, and the information of the United States shows that the per capita housing area of the United States is about 65 square meters, and the per capita housing area of the United States is 1.7 times that of China.

8. The average life expectancy: the United States is 2.1 years more than China

The “2018 China Health and Health Development Statistics Bulletin” released by the National Health Commission shows that the average life expectancy of Chinese residents was 77 years in 2018, an increase of 42 years compared with 35 years in 1949. According to the 2018 World Health Statistics published by the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.5 years, ranking 34th in the world, while China is 76.4 years, ranking 52nd in the world, and the average life expectancy in the United States is 2.1 years more than that in China.

9. Per capita health care expenditure: the U.S. is 17 times that of China

China’s per capita medical and health expenditure is much lower than that of the United States, at 4,148.1 yuan in 2018, or about $644.5, while the per capita medical and health expenditure of the United States is $11,172 in the same period, 17 times that of China. An important reason for the huge gap between China and the U.S. health care spending is that the U.S. commercial health insurance industry is more developed, while China’s commercial health insurance industry is still in its infancy.

10.  Engel coefficient: China is 3.3 times more than the United States

China’s per capita consumption expenditure increased 107 times from 1978 to 2018. 2018 China’s Engel coefficient is 28.4%, which has entered the ranks of the richest countries recognized by the FAO; the Engel coefficient of the United States is 8.7%, and China is 3.3 times of the United States.

11. Energy consumption per capita: the United States is 3.1 times that of China

According to the World Energy Statistical Yearbook (2019), primary energy consumption in the United States reached 2,300.6 million tons of oil equivalent in 2018, compared with 3,139 million tons of oil equivalent in China, and per capita basic energy consumption in the United States was 294.8 petroleum equivalent, compared with 96.9 petroleum equivalent in China. China’s railroad and highway mileage is equivalent to 58% and 73% of that of the United States; the number of airports in the United States is 29.7 times that of China, and the volume of air transportation is about twice that of China; the length of rail transit operation in the United States is 3.6 times that of China; the logistics development index in China in 2018 is 3.6, which is lower than that of the United States at 3.9.

12.  Museums and libraries: the United States is 5.4 times more than China

Information shows that the United States has 16,700 museums and 16,968 public libraries, with an average of less than 18,000 people having a museum and public library. China’s museums and libraries are about 6,200, and the number of museums and libraries in the United States is 5.4 times that of China.

13. Military Spending: The U.S. is 3.7 times more than China

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, global military spending reached $1.8 trillion in 2018, the highest in 30 years. The U.S. military spending was $643 billion, accounting for 36% of global military spending, and China was $171.58 billion, making the U.S. 3.7 times larger than China.

II. Economic pattern: Total volume is expected to exceed that of the United States, on a per capita basis the volume gap is huge

Looking at the world economic pattern, in 2018, China and the United States accounted for 40% of the world’s GDP, 54% of the stock market, 23% of the trade volume, and 74% of the world’s currency circulation in U.S. dollars and renminbi. The essence of the trade war between China and the United States is the “world economic war”; since the United States became the world’s largest country in 1890, the world’s second largest economy has invariably experienced recession and lost its status as the second largest country, and the world is watching to see if China can become the first second largest economy that does not decline in 131 years. The truth of the trade war is the new “second economic power trap”, which requires both money and “life”; the direction of the trade war is that “the United States will not tolerate overtaking and China will not give up its development”. As long as the U.S. does not enjoy the fruits of the new technological revolution and China does not make subversive mistakes, it is only a matter of time before China’s economic output surpasses that of the U.S., but the economic structure and efficiency are still about 30 years different from the U.S.

Two years after the trade war, despite a 7.2% decline in trade between China and the United States, China’s GDP accounted for the proportion of U.S. GDP, not only did not fall, but rose 4.6 percentage points, the trade surplus with the U.S. also increased by $ 20 billion, but of course economic development is also potentially deep-seated conflicts such as the outflow of enterprises and capital outflow. Trade war may escalate after the epidemic. The United States has the technology, China has the market, technology and market combination, the effect of technology to enlarge, the potential of the market can be developed. Sino-US economic cooperation is not only a win-win situation for both China and the US, but also can lead to multiple wins for all countries.

14.  Comparing GDP Growth Rates Over Past 70 years, China 9 Times Faster than United States

During the 70-year period from 1949-2019, China’s GDP increased from 466 billion yuan to 990,865 billion yuan, a nominal GDP of 2125.3 times. If calculated in U.S. dollars, China’s GDP grew from $20.26 billion to $14.36 trillion from 1949-2019, an increase of 707.8 times. During the same period, U.S. GDP grew 77.6 times from $272.8 billion to $21.43 trillion, and China’s 70-year GDP growth multiple was 9.0 times that of the U.S. During the 41-year period from 1978-2019, China’s GDP grew 95 times in U.S. dollar terms, and U.S. GDP grew 8.1 times during the same period, and China’s GDP growth multiple in the last 41 years was 10.5 times that of the U.S.

15. Total GDP: China is 67.8% of the United States

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total U.S. GDP in 2017-2019 is about 19.39, 20.54 and 21.43 trillion U.S. dollars, and China’s GDP is 12.25, 13.6 and 13.9 trillion U.S. dollars, and China’s GDP accounts for 63.2%, 66.2% and 67.8% of the U.S.

16. GDP growth rate: China is 2.7 times faster than the United States

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s GDP growth rate was 6.9%, 6.5% and 6.1% in 2017-2019, while the U.S. GDP growth rate was 2.3%, 2.9% and 2.3% during the same period, and China’s GDP growth rate was 3 times, 2.2 times and 2.65 times that of the U.S., respectively.

17. Labor productivity: the U.S. is about 12 times that of China

According to the World Labor Organization statistics, since the 21st century, China’s labor productivity has jumped to $8,253 from $2,023 in 2000, while the U.S. labor growth rate has reached $81,316 in 2000 and exceeded the $100,000 mark in 2017, at $101,101, with the U.S. labor productivity about 12 times that of China.

18.  The proportion of the three industries: the United States is 27.1 percentage points higher than China

According to the data of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of China’s three industries to GDP in 2018 was 7.0%, 39.7%, and 53.3%, and the proportion of three industries in 2019 was 7.1%, 39.0%, and 53.9%, respectively, and according to the data of the U.S. National Bureau of Economics, the proportion of three industries to GDP in the U.S. in 2018 was 1%, 17%, and 82%, and in 2019 In 2019, China’s tertiary industry accounted for 27.1 percentage points less than the U.S. GDP, which is only equivalent to the level of the U.S. 60 years ago.

19. GDP per capita: the U.S. is 6.3 times that of China

China’s GDP per capita exceeded $10,000 for the first time in 2019, reaching $10,300, while the U.S. GDP per capita was $65,000, and the U.S. GDP per capita was 6.3 times that of China, which was only 74th in the world.

20.  National Debt: U.S. Federal Government Debt is 14.7 times that of China

The International Finance Association (IIF) reported that the total U.S. debt in 2018 was $69 trillion, 3.4 times the GDP, and accounted for 28% of the total global debt. As of the end of 2018, the Chinese government debt was about 33.4 trillion yuan, or $4.7 trillion, accounting for 37.0% of China’s GDP in 2018.

21.  Value added of primary industry: China is 6 times larger than the US

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the value added of China’s primary industry in 2018 and 2019 was $978.2 billion and $102.15 billion, respectively. During the same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the value added of the primary industry in the U.S. was $164.2 billion and $169.2 billion. the value added of the primary industry in China in 2018 and 2019 was 5.96 times and 6.04 times that of the U.S.

22.  Value added of secondary industry: China is 1.4 times of the United States

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the value added of China’s secondary industry in 2018 and 2019 was USD 5,530.87 billion and USD 5,597.8 billion, while the value added of the secondary industry in the United States was USD 3,815.1 billion and USD 3,901.4 billion in the same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.The value added of China’s secondary industry in 2018 and 2019 was 1.5 times and 1.4 times that of the United States.

23. Value added of the tertiary industry: China is only 45% of the United States

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the value added of China’s tertiary sector in 2018 and 2019 was $709.6 billion and $774.42 billion. During the same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. was $165,147.5 billion and $173,571 billion. The value added of China’s tertiary sector in 2018 and 2019 was 44% and 45% of the U.S. respectively.

24.  International trade: China’s trade surplus with the U.S. is $295.8 billion

According to the National General Administration of Customs, the total value of China’s import and export of goods trade in 2019 was $3.153 billion, up 3.4% from 2018, with a trade surplus of $29.2 million, up 25.4%. However, the trade war led to a 14.6% decline in trade between China and the U.S., with China’s exports to the U.S. down 12.5% and U.S. exports to China down 20.9%.From 2017-2019, the trade volume between China and the U.S. was $583.697 billion, $633.52 billion and $541.223 billion, respectively, and China’s trade surplus with the U.S. during the same period was $275.8 billion, 323.3 billion U.S. dollars and 295.8 billion U.S. dollars. 2019 compared to 2017 before the trade war, China-U.S. trade fell by 42.474 billion U.S. dollars, or 7.2%, and China’s trade surplus with the United States increased by 20 billion U.S. dollars.

25.   Fortune 500 companies: China has 9 more than the U.S.

Data from the 2019 Fortune Global 500 ranking shows that the number of Chinese companies on the list reached 129, with a total of 120 U.S. companies on the list, and China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in history, with China having nine more companies than the U.S. Even without counting Taiwan companies, the number of mainland Chinese companies (including Hong Kong companies) reached 119, only one less than the United States.

26. Doing Business: U.S. ranks 38 spots ahead of China

According to the 2019 Doing Business report released by the World Bank, China ranked 46th in the world in terms of doing business, a significant improvement of 32 places from the previous year, and was listed as one of the top 10 countries with the most significant improvements in their business environment in 2018, with the U.S. ranking 8th, 38 places ahead of China.

27.   Global economic incremental contribution: China is twice as big as the US

According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) measurements, China’s economy contributed 30% of incremental world economic growth in 2018, ranking first in the world, compared to 15.3% for the U.S. China’s contribution rate is about twice that of the U.S.

III. Innovation pattern: quantitative indicators are close, Qualitative Gap is Obvious

The U.S. is the only superpower in the world today, ranking first in economy, science and technology, education and military power, and is the world’s economic, scientific and technological, talent and military center. The data shows that the United States has strong comprehensive national power and high quality development, while China has fast growth rate and high development potential. The gap between the comprehensive national power of China and the United States is quite obvious, and some gaps are difficult to be bridged in the short term. The “China threat theory” and “China overtaking theory” lack scientific basis, and the “China development theory” is the hard truth.

28. Innovation Indicators: China Leads in 6 Quantitative Indicators, U.S. Leads in 7 Qualitative Indicators

According to the analysis of 13 indicators commonly used in the international innovation system, China leads in 6 indicators, such as R&D personnel, scientific and technical journal papers, engineering and technology papers (EI), patent applications, high-tech product exports, and the world’s top 500 enterprises, among which 4 are quantitative indicators. The United States leads in 7 indicators of innovation quality, including international papers (SCI), R&D expenditures, PCT patents, national innovation index, world’s top 100 universities, world’s top 500 enterprises, and world’s top 500 brands.

Note: The authors compiled the data based on relevant data, and the indicators not specified in time are all 2017 data.

29. Papers: the number of the top 100 papers in frontier science in the United States is 7 times higher than that in China

Due to the inconsistency of statistical caliber, the relevant reports from both China and the United States consider each other the world’s top in the number of papers. According to the China Science and Technology Statistical Yearbook 2017, in 2017, China had 472,000 domestic scientific and technical papers, 361,000 international scientific and technical papers, 226,000 engineering index papers, and 86,000 international conference proceedings citation indexes. According to the NSF study, Chinese scholars were the first authors of 426,000 papers in 2016, which is nearly 65,000 papers higher than the number of international scientific and technical papers counted in China (including some non-international journal papers), while Americans published 409,000 academic papers in the same period. The quality of U.S. papers is significantly higher than that of China, with 72 U.S. and only 11 Chinese papers among the TOP 100 hottest scientific papers in the world released by Altmetric in 2018.

30. Patent Cooperation Treaty PCT patents: the U.S. is 1.2 times higher than China

According to WIPO statistics, China’s patent applications have maintained a fast growth rate. 30% of the patents granted worldwide in 2017 were in China, higher than the 23%, 14%, 9% and 8% in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Europe. Although China ranks first in the world in the number of patent applications and grants, the number of international patent applications is significantly insufficient. The number of PCT patent applications in China increased from more than 18,000 in 2012 to more than 48,000 in 2017, with an average annual growth rate of 21.3%. As of May 2017, the global share of PCT patent applications in the United States was 24.6% and in China 20.3%.

31. R&D spending: the US is 1.9 times that of China

In 2018, China spent about 296.9 billion U.S. dollars on R&D, and the U.S. invested 573.8 billion U.S. dollars in R&D. China’s R&D spending accounted for 2.2% of GDP, lower than the 2.8% of the U.S. The U.S. R&D spending is 1.9 times that of China, but China is one of the fastest growing countries in the world.

32.  R&D focus: Biology in the U.S., Information in China

From 2005 to 2018, the proportion of U.S. biological and medical R&D funding to federal civilian R&D funding has remained above 50%, and also from the release of the U.S. National Innovation Report, the National Plan for Advanced Manufacturing, the Blueprint for the Bioeconomy, the Trusted Cyberspace and other national science and technology development strategy reports, the U.S. R&D funding focus is on health, science and space, etc. In 2016 U.S. biological and medical papers accounted for 61.6% of natural science papers, ranking 4th in the world, while China’s figure was 39.2%, ranking 37th in the world, which shows that the focus of U.S. government science and technology support is biological, and the focus of Chinese government science and technology support is information.

33. Innovation Index: U.S. is 11 places higher than China

The five major global assessment agencies (China Academy of Science and Technology Development Strategy, World Intellectual Property Organization, Lausanne Institute, Switzerland, World Economic Forum, and Bloomberg) evaluate China’s S&T innovation index between 13-27 (ranked 14th in 2018), and the U.S. S&T innovation index rankings are all in the top 6, and China’s innovation index differs from the U.S. by 9-23 places. The World Intellectual Property Organization announced China’s national innovation capacity ranking of 17th in 2018, Switzerland ranked 1st, and the United States ranked 6th, with a difference of 11 places between China and the United States.

34. High-tech product exports: China is 4.9 times more than the US

In 2018, China’s high-tech product exports were $747.9 billion, compared with $153 billion in the U.S. China is 4.9 times larger than the U.S. China’s high-tech exports accounted for 25% of manufactured exports, compared with 20% in the U.S. An important reason for the gap between U.S. and Chinese high-tech product exports is caused by the U.S. industrial transfer policy, which focuses on design development and sales while shifting production to China and other countries. In addition, from the list of the top 100 Chinese exporters to the United States in 2016, it can be seen that the proportion of China’s export structure is 70% for foreign enterprises and only 30% for mainland enterprises.

35. Intellectual property imports: the US is 1.7 times more than China

In the 2018 IPR import cost ranking, China ranked 4th after the United States and Ireland ranked first. China’s intellectual property import cost was 35.8 billion U.S. dollars, and the U.S. was 53.75 billion U.S. dollars, of which 72.6% of China’s intellectual property import cost came from the manufacturing industry, and a large proportion of which came from the communications industry.

IV.   Education pattern: the gap between China and the United States is huge and It is difficult to catch up in the short term

From the perspective of education patterns, there is a huge gap between China and the U.S. in terms of educational strength, and there is a huge gap between China’s faculty, student sources, research instruments and even teaching methods and approaches. The number of top scientists in the U.S. is 4.3 times that of China, and the per capita education expenditure in the U.S. is 8 times that of China. The gap between China and the U.S. in the field of education is the biggest gap between China and the U.S. The number of top talents is the core gap between China and the U.S. The talent “deficit” is the biggest deficit between China and the U.S. Ten years of trees, a hundred years of people, the gap in education to do long-term strategic layout.

36.  Number of universities in the world’s top 100 universities: the United States is 6.7 times more than China

In 2019, Times Higher Education announced the World University Ranking 2020 list, 40 colleges and universities in the United States entered the top 100, and China kept 6 unchanged, the United States is 6.7 times more than China. The gap between prestigious universities and the faculty is one of the largest and most difficult gaps to close between China and the United States.

37. Percentage of education spending: the U.S. is 1.3 times that of China

The average number of years of education for China’s working-age population is 10.5 years, and the average number of years of education for people aged 15 and above has increased from 5.3 years in 1982 to 9.6 years in 2017. 2018 China’s education spending accounted for 5.1% of GDP, of which the proportion of financial investment in education spending accounted for 4.1% of GDP, lower than the 5.2% of the U.S., which is 1.3 times higher than China.

38. Top scientists: 4.3 times more in the U.S. than in China

According to the 2019 global list of highly cited scientists published by Coreview, including 2,737 in the U.S., 735 in China (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) and 636 in mainland China, the number of top talents in the U.S. is 3.7 times higher than that in China and 4.3 times higher than that in mainland China. Compared with the data of 2017, the number of top talents in China is significantly higher. As of September 2019, there are 908 global Nobel laureates, of whom 377 are from the United States and only 2 from mainland China, a mere 0.5% of the number in the United States.

39. Acceptance of international students: 2.2 times more in the U.S. than in China

Data from the Chinese Ministry of Education and the 2018 U.S. Open Doors Report show that the total number of international students worldwide is 4.85 million, the number of international students in China is 490,000, and the number of international students to the United States is 1.09 million, 2.2 times that of China.

40. College enrollment: the U.S. is 1.8 times higher than China

According to the information, the gross enrollment rate of higher education in China has reached 48.1% in 2018, an increase of 18.1% compared with 2012. In 2015, the enrollment rate of higher education in the United States was 87%, 1.8 times that of China.

In conclusion, the spread of the new crown epidemic is triggering major adjustments in the world landscape, and the gap between China and the United States is in the midst of dramatic changes. However, with the strong comprehensive national power of the United States, the great development potential of China, and the technology of the United States and the market of China, the basic pattern of the gap between China and the United States remains the gap between the largest developing country and the largest developed country, which is difficult to change in the short term.

For further reading:

Re-conceptualization of Sino-US Relations under the New Situation



Article Source: Party Literature, No. 1, 2020

Article by Zhang Hongzhi (former member (deputy minister) and editorial reviewer of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China)

In recent years, discussions at home and abroad on the current state and future of Sino-US relations have become increasingly heated, with intense clashes between different views. As the U.S.-China trade friction provoked by the U.S. side intensifies, the U.S. tariff stick, technology blockade and even diplomatic siege have followed each other and continued. How to view the development trend of China-US relations and its impact on China’s future development has become an issue that needs to be explored in depth.

I. The change of U.S. mentality toward China from the new phenomenon of current Sino-U.S. relations

In recent years, a series of negative phenomena have emerged in Sino-U.S. relations, from the “strategic eastward shift” and “Asia-Pacific rebalancing” proposed by the late Obama administration to the “Indo-Pacific strategy” and trade frictions after the Trump administration. From the late Obama administration’s “strategic shift to the east” and “Asia-Pacific rebalancing” to the “Indo-Pacific strategy” and trade friction after the Trump administration, the U.S. side’s voices of suspicion, fear and containment of China have been rising, hostile measures have been introduced, and restrictions and suppression of China have become the dominant voice in the U.S. ruling class. In the midst of the Chinese side’s diplomatic efforts to always insist on exchanges and cooperation with the U.S. and actively advocate mutual benefit and win-win situation, such negative phenomena that defy the trend of the times still appear cannot but cause us to be highly alert. From the emergence of these phenomena, we can see that the U.S. mentality toward China has undergone a fundamental shift. This shift is mainly reflected in the following three aspects.

First, there has been a shift from contempt for China to importance and even fear of China. In the past, the U.S. was a beacon of humanity and viewed China in a condescending manner. The conflict between the two countries was mainly a result of the U.S. attempt to transform China according to its own likes and dislikes. In the early 1990s, the U.S. side believed that China’s strategic value to the U.S. had declined after the Cold War, and the urge to intervene in China increased, but mostly in the name of human rights. Although there are conflicts in the economic and trade sphere, they are more of a means of pressure to serve the political purpose of changing China. The U.S. side is convinced of the “China collapse theory” regarding the success of China’s reform and development, believing that the socialist system is incompatible with the market economy, that China’s economic growth is unsustainable, that the social system is bound to disintegrate, and that it is difficult for China to grow into a rival of U.S. stature. Now, the U.S. side is beginning to recognize the consolidation of China’s social system and the success of its development path, and is particularly shocked by the scale of China’s development and the speed of its growth.

Second, there is a shift from strategic ease to strategic anxiety toward China. In the past, the U.S. was the victor of the Cold War and believed that the 21st century would remain the American century and that China would eventually succumb to American hegemony. Therefore, the U.S. side was more relaxed in dealing with China and did not have a strong sense of urgency, believing that time and history would be on its side.  It has squeezed the strategic space of other countries by engaging in unilateralism, destroying the opportunities for international cooperation that emerged at the beginning of the cold war. These actions run counter to the general trend of world peace and development and accelerate the weakening of U.S. hegemony. Faced with a fast-developing China, the U.S. side feels that the situation is unfavorable to it, and its self-confidence is seriously shaken, creating a strategic impatience for quick success.

Third, the shift from using international rules to shape China to breaking international rules to suppress China. For a long time, the U.S. has boasted of being the creator and maintainer of international rules, and the de facto biggest beneficiary of existing international rules, and for this reason it has appointed itself as the world’s policeman, meddling in international affairs everywhere. Today, when the U.S. sees that the emerging countries represented by China have developed with the help of the reasonable components of the existing international rules, and the U.S. has been unable to use traditional means to restrain them, it will not hesitate to break the rules, do whatever it takes to fight competitors, obstruct and destroy each other’s development, and turn the international rules into a plaything to be used if they are compatible and discarded if they are not. This change reflects a “last days of empire” of reluctance and helplessness.

The above change of mentality reflects the obsession of the U.S. ruling class with the unipolar hegemonic status and its obstinacy in ignoring the world development trend, which has led to the destabilization and disorder of the U.S. policy toward China, and its erratic and capricious moves. However, putting aside all the clamor from the U.S. side, we can find that there are certain internal laws that can be explored, and we can see the “changed” and “unchanged” in Sino-U.S. relations.

II. What has “Changed” and What has Not “Changed” in U.S.-China Relations

Twenty years ago, I wrote an article in this journal to analyze the Sino-U.S. relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I believed then that strategic security, ideology, economic and trade relations, and the Taiwan issue are the four major factors that constitute the overall framework of Sino-U.S. relations. The four main variables that will affect future U.S.-China relations. (See Zhang Hongzhi, “Reflections after the Dramatic Change: The Disintegration of the Soviet Union and U.S.-China Relations,” Party Literature, No. 6, 2000.) This led to the conclusion that Sino-U.S. relations had the duality of upsets and stability, and that this duality was determined by the two sides of U.S. policy toward China, namely containment and engagement; under the historical conditions at the time, the U.S. side of engagement with China exceeded the side of containment, and the two countries were able to maintain stable relations overall. 20 years later, looking back at Sino-U.S. relations, it is still possible to do so through these four major factors and four variables Analysis.

First, in terms of the basic framework of U.S.-China relations, these four factors still exist, but their connotation and focus have changed.

First, on strategic security issues. The strategic balance and security between the great powers is at the core of U.S.-China relations. more than 20 years ago, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States thought it had won the Cold War and resided in a hegemonic position of supremacy, believing that China’s value in terms of great power checks and balances had declined, but still had a role to play in maintaining strategic stability in the world; China has achieved rapid development after reform and opening up, posing a potential threat to the United States but not an imminent danger, and China’s future remains to be seen. Today, with the evolution of the international situation, especially the rise of China’s comprehensive national power, most people in the U.S. ruling class believe that the world has returned to the era of great power competition, and China has become the main competitor of the United States, seeing China as a real threat to the U.S. hegemonic order, but on the other hand, they feel that China is also the object of cooperation that the United States can not avoid when dealing with global problems.

Second, on the issue of ideology. More than 20 years ago, as the world socialist movement suffered a serious setback, the U.S. thought that history had “ended” and that China was pursuing an ideology and social system that had been proven to be a failure by the Soviet revolution, and that it could take advantage of the Soviet revolution to take China by storm. After the setback, they still insisted that China would eventually embark on the path of westernization and differentiation, and that in time they would wait until the fruit was ripe on the tree. Today, the United States is disappointed to find that socialism with Chinese characteristics has achieved comprehensive development and progress in economic, political, cultural, social and ecological civilization, and that China’s socialist system has become more perfect and mature, promoting the cause of socialism to revive and rejuvenate around the world, which has shaken the United States’ own sense of systemic superiority. The ultra-conservative forces in the United States have determined that China has formed a comprehensive challenge to the Western social system, development path and even civilizational form, and must engage in an ideological and even civilizational confrontation with China, but the peace, openness and tolerance of socialism with Chinese characteristics and progress have weakened the ability of these forces to mobilize public opinion to demonize China and start an ideological war.

Third, on economic and trade relations. Economic and trade relations are the most important link between China and the U.S. More than 20 years ago, as China’s reform and opening up and economic development process advanced, China and the U.S. economic and trade relations complemented each other’s advantages and deeply intertwined, developing into each other’s largest trading partners, with China becoming the largest source of U.S. imports, the third largest export market and an important investment destination, with U.S. capital earning huge gains in China and the U.S. public receiving high-quality, low-cost consumer goods from China. The U.S.-China economic and trade relationship has become the biggest highlight of Sino-U.S. relations and has played the role of a ballast, but economic and trade frictions have also stumbled and accumulated as the scale of economic and trade has expanded. Nowadays, with the change of power contrast between the U.S. and China, some people in the U.S. attribute the relative weakness of the U.S. to external factors represented by China, and believe that the U.S. has suffered in the U.S.-China economic and trade relations and that China has taken advantage of the U.S., advocating economic pressure on China, making the economic and trade issues in the U.S.-China relations rise significantly and become However, the mutually beneficial economic relationship between China and the U.S. still exists, and the huge and fast-growing Chinese market is something that the U.S. capital cannot give up. It is impossible to “decouple” the two economies. This kind of cut and dried economic and trade ties make the U.S. side in a tangle.

Fourth, on the Taiwan issue. The Taiwan issue is the cornerstone of U.S.-China relations, but the U.S. side has never given up using the Taiwan issue as a bargaining chip and tool to restrain China. During the Cold War, the United States made certain commitments on the Taiwan issue for strategic interests. After the end of the Cold War, the U.S. believed that China’s strategic value had declined and backtracked on the Taiwan issue. The U.S. side has not given the Taiwan issue a prominent place and has been wary of the radical “Taiwan independence” forces’ attempts to drag the U.S. down. Today, as the U.S. side sees China as a strategic competitor, the attempt to use the Taiwan issue to hold China back is once again on the rise. The absence of war on both sides of the Taiwan Strait is still beneficial to the overall U.S. strategy.

From the above four perspectives, we can see that after more than 20 years of development and evolution, the relationship between China and the United States is quietly changing in connotation while the overall framework remains unchanged, and the foundation of the relationship still exists but has been seriously eroded. Because of this, there are many international voices about the clash of civilizations, the Thucydides trap, the new bipolar pattern and Cold War 2.0. However, judging from the four major variables affecting U.S.-China relations, the foundation of the relationship remains solid and is far from collapsing.

First, the momentum of U.S. foreign intervention has been thwarted. With the relative weakness of the U.S., especially in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, all segments of the U.S. population are resistant to being drawn into new external conflicts, and the tendency for internal concerns is on the rise. The advocacy of “America First” and the rise of trade protectionism is a manifestation of this tendency of the U.S. internal concern, and certain aggressive threats and intimidation are only blackmailing means of its “extreme pressure”.

Second, the framework of world power relations remains unchanged, and the number of factors holding the U.S. in check has increased. With the revival of Russian power, the structural contradictions between the U.S. and Russia are once again highlighted and cannot be fundamentally alleviated in the short term; the interests of the U.S. and Europe are divided, and the centrifugal tendency of Europe toward the U.S. is rising; the situation in the Middle East remains unresolved and has a tendency to further deteriorate, all of which restrain the U.S. power and make it difficult to fully implement its “strategic eastward shift” plan. The construction of an anti-China alliance is impossible to achieve.

Third, the situation in Taiwan is generally under control. The balance of power between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has decisively tipped to the mainland side, and although “Taiwan independence” separatist forces were once rampant, Taiwan has been firmly locked into the development track of mainland China. The U.S. space for manipulating the Taiwan issue has been greatly restricted.

Fourth, in terms of China’s increased national power, the biggest variable, China does not have the ambition to replace the United States in world domination, and the common interests between China and the United States still exist, so it would be more costly for the U.S. to mess up Sino-U.S. relations. If there is a Thucydides trap in the world today, it is a trap that some Americans have dug for themselves, due to the U.S. side’s own demons.

As seen from the above analysis, these variables affecting Sino-U.S. relations have not yet had a subversive effect, and some are even moving in a direction favorable to stability. The U.S.-China relationship has not changed in the midst of the changes. What has not changed is the convergence of interests between China and the U.S. What has changed is the U.S. mentality and other factors of its own, which stems from the U.S. side’s shock at the speed of the fall of its own hegemonic base and its disappointment at the expected development of China, as well as the huge gap between the two.

Because of this, until the U.S. hegemonic mentality is adjusted, it will be difficult to fully improve Sino-U.S. relations, and it is unlikely that they will return to the state they were in more than 20 years ago, but they will not yet collapse. Although containing China’s development has become the common goal of the majority of the U.S. ruling class, the times have changed and it is difficult to engage in full-scale confrontation, and contact as a strategic tool will not be abandoned. U.S.-China relations will be more volatile for a long time, but generally within manageable limits. China and the United States will be in a long-term “talk” – “fight” – “talk” – “fight” – “fight”. The “talk” struggle and cooperation are intertwined and intertwined, and the scenario changes more frequently, probably in one wave, and in another wave, and does not exclude the occurrence of more intense confrontation at specific times and in specific areas.

The possibility of U.S. Cold War with China and its Future Outlook

When we say that China-US relations are still manageable in general, we do not mean that we can take this lightly. The U.S. will not change its intention to use various channels and means to contain China’s development. In the face of all the uncertainties in Sino-US relations, we must establish bottom-line thinking, prepare for the worst case scenario, and strive for the best possible outcome. The key is to have firm confidence, dare to fight, respond skillfully, and strive for final victory through a “protracted war.

The U.S. eventually brought down the Soviet Union through more than 40 years of Cold War confrontation on all fronts: political, economic, cultural, military, and diplomatic. Some people in the United States think that they can bring down China by the same means, and some people in China are worried that the outbreak of a new Cold War will stop the historical process of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. However, if we calmly analyze the world development situation and China’s future development trend, we will find that the times have changed and China today is by no means the Soviet Union of the past. It will surely lead to a bigger defeat than the Korean War, and even fundamentally shake the U.S. hegemony. This is also a risk that the U.S. anti-China forces cannot disregard.

First, the conditions of the times and the world’s understanding and application of the conditions of the times are different. The U.S.-Soviet Cold War took place in the middle of the last century. At that time, the Second World War had just ended, the haze of war had not yet cleared, and the world was split into two camps, the East and the West, forming fierce competition and confrontation between each other. The United States, as the leader of the Western camp, took advantage of the post-war weakness of the world and the urgent need to repair the wounds of the war, and, under the banner of free market economy, took control of most of the world’s resources and formed a world market system controlled by the U.S. side, objectively conforming to the first wave of economic globalization.

The Soviet Union, on the other hand, insisted on a highly centralized and planned economic system, and although it once showed the advantages of rapid development during the post-war recovery period, its weakness of not being able to flexibly adapt to social needs was increasingly exposed. The Soviet Union and the United States are in contrast. As a result, the Soviet Union was increasingly passive, and the centrifugal tendency of the countries in the Eastern bloc was growing, consuming a lot of Soviet energy and resources, and eventually triggering the Soviet East. Today, more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, peace and development are the themes of the world today, and the multi-polarization of the world and economic globalization are irreversible. After more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China has explored a socialist road with Chinese characteristics, established a socialist market economy system, opened up to the outside world on all fronts, and actively integrated into the wave of economic globalization. It has become not only the “world factory” but also the “world market”, and is an indispensable link in the world economic system and global industrial chain. Cutting off economic ties with China under such conditions and completely blockading China will definitely lead to self-isolation and internal division. If the U.S. launches a cold war against China, it will be moving against the general trend of economic globalization, while China’s insistence on opening up to the outside world is following the trend, and the success or failure is self-evident.

Second, China and the Soviet Union have different national conditions. Although China and the Soviet Union are both socialist countries, they are still very different in terms of specific national conditions. In addition to the fact that socialism with Chinese characteristics is different from the Soviet model, as mentioned earlier, there are also great differences between China and the Soviet Union in terms of cultural background, historical orientation, and national endowment. First, in terms of cultural background, historically Tsarist Russia was a rapidly expanding, latecomer state that had a strong desire to integrate into the West since Peter the Great’s reforms. After the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, through the socialist construction and the victory in the anti-fascist war, the national self-confidence and national identity of all ethnic groups in the Soviet Union have been greatly improved, but the historical cultural tendency of the West is still strong, and there is still a historical gap in the cultural identity between different ethnic groups in the country.

In contrast, China is an ancient civilization with a history of 5,000 years, and its historical traditions have never been interrupted; all ethnic groups in the country have formed a strong national and cultural identity during their long common life, forming a Chinese national community of destiny. Combining the world’s advanced culture with China’s excellent traditional culture and exploring a path of national rejuvenation that suits China’s national conditions has never been the common pursuit of the vast majority of Chinese people. Second, from a historical perspective, the Soviet Union, after its historic achievements, gradually lost its forward momentum and sense of future direction, at first becoming complacent with its achievements and sanctifying its own development model, making economic and social development lose its vitality; then, after discovering the problems, its self-confidence wavered, losing consensus on the goals, direction and path of reform and falling into chaos, eventually embarking on the path of westernization and differentiation.

In contrast, after a century of humiliation, China’s dream of achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has always been pursued indefatigably by the whole nation. Third, in terms of national endowment, the Soviet Union was vast and sparsely populated, making development difficult. Although rich in resources, it also produced resource dependence and a distorted economic structure, making it difficult to realize its potential. China’s population is several times larger than that of the Soviet Union or the United States today, and although its resources per capita are small, its labor force is abundant and its market capacity is large, so its growth potential can be unleashed. The huge demand of the Chinese people to improve their own lives provides unlimited space for China’s development. Synthesizing these three differences, it can be seen that: during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, Soviet society was in a stagnant stage, the U.S. social dynamics and internal consensus was higher than the Soviet Union, and the U.S. side took the initiative; while in the present era, the peak era of U.S. hegemony has passed, and China is a booming emerging power, if the U.S. insists on a long-term confrontation with China, the rise and fall of longevity is unknown.

Third, the strategic culture of China and the West is different. In the face of U.S. containment plans, China and the Soviet Union have very different cultural backgrounds, strategic thinking patterns, and ways of dealing with them. The Soviet Union, whose predecessor Tsarist Russia was a Western power, had both the salvation complex of Christian civilization and the historical imprint of hegemony. This hard confrontation, in which the country’s hard power was inferior to that of the other side, led to the abnormal development of the Soviet economy, the dominance of heavy industry, especially military industry, the long-term neglect of people’s lives, and several missed opportunities for economic reform, which became one of the important reasons for its ultimate failure.

China, on the other hand, has never had the gene of foreign expansion and hegemony, from its history and culture, realistic national conditions to its national political philosophy and development strategy, and has always taken the realization of national wealth and strength, national revitalization and people’s happiness as the goal of national rejuvenation, and the maintenance of world peace and common development as the external conditions for national rejuvenation. We will strive to turn world opportunities into Chinese opportunities and Chinese opportunities into world opportunities, and actively build a community of human destiny. Because of this, China has not adopted the single confrontation of a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye in response to all the provocations of the U.S. side. In particular, we will not engage in full-scale confrontation, we will not dance with the other side, we will not indulge in an arms race, we will not pull together military blocs, we will insist on full openness, we will make friends with all sides, we will play your containment card and my cooperation card in the diplomatic struggle, and we will always maintain a strategic initiative. If someone in the United States wants to lure China into the Thucydides trap, it is self-explanatory as to who will eventually fall into the trap.

From the above three analyses, we can conclude that the Soviet Union’s historical failures stemmed more from its own shortcomings and mistakes. In the 21st century, in the face of today’s China, it is already time to revive the Cold War mentality, and to try to block China’s development with the Cold War is a move against the times, a “temporal disorder” in which the body enters the 21st century but the head is still stuck in the old days. We cannot say that the United States will not use the Cold War to contain China, but we can conclude that such an attempt will surely fail. The theme of the times of peace and development has not changed, the historical trend of world multipolarity and economic globalization has not changed, and the endogenous impetus for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has not changed, and the “time” and “trend” are on our side. As long as we firmly the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, theoretical confidence, institutional confidence, cultural confidence, maintain strategic determination, not for a moment of pressure shaken, nor by a provocation and impulse, and strive to achieve our own set strategic goals, we will be able to overcome any external challenges. The difficulties we face now are the storms that the Chinese nation must go through on its journey of rejuvenation, and are part of the great struggle with new historical characteristics. When we survive this storm, we will see a rainbow, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will step up to a new historical ladder, and the world, including the United States, will see China differently.

The Evolution of U.S.-China Relations, Lessons from History and New Factors Affecting the Future

Article Source: First Intelligence Center

Article by Zhang Baijia (former deputy director of the CPC History Research Office)

I. Differences between China and the United States and the evolutionary lineage of relations between the two countries

China and the United States are two extremely different countries. This difference has tangibly and invisibly influenced their perception of each other, their mutual policies and the development of their relations. Understanding the differences between China and the U.S. can help to deal with the relationship between the two countries in a sensible way.

1. The main differences between China and the United States.

Such differences are multifaceted, including: history, culture, religion and traditions, ethnic composition and population size, geopolitical and surrounding environment, socio-political and economic systems and development levels, changes in international status, experiences since the modern era, etc. What is most obvious is that the United States is a young, old, modern nation, while China is an old, newly modernized nation. Both China and the United States are multi-ethnic countries, but the multi-ethnicity of the United States consists mainly of immigrants, while China has formed a multi-ethnic country with Han Chinese as the main ethnic group after thousands of years of ethnic integration. The size of the populations of the two countries differs greatly. In terms of geography and surrounding environment, although the two countries have similar territorial areas, the United States has the simplest surrounding environment and the best geopolitical conditions among the world’s major powers, while China is surrounded by many neighbors and has the most complex geopolitical environment, being the so-called “four-sided country. The two countries have developed different socio-political and economic systems and are at different levels of development in their respective histories. Especially in terms of changes in international status, the United States has basically been on the rise since its birth and may now be facing its first decline in history, while China’s international status has had several ups and downs, especially in recent times. These differences have important implications for the perceptions and mindsets of both countries, and both sides cannot help but judge each other based on their own values and experiences in their interactions.

2. Distance produces beauty, Looking Close-up is Easy to Get Disillusioned

This is a significant feature of the history of Sino-American interaction. The huge differences and multifaceted differences between China and the United States have created a special attraction, while making it difficult for both sides to understand each other, which leads to misunderstandings, contradictions, friction and conflict. Americans have a constant “Chinese dream,” i.e., they want to transform China according to the American model; the Chinese have a changing “American dream,” sometimes a beautiful dream, sometimes a nightmare. However, the fact is that the mutual policies of both countries are more or less idealistic and realistic, but with different biases at different times.

3.  Fundamentals Affecting the Evolution of Sino-US relations.

From the perspective of the development of Sino-American relations, although the United States proposed the “open door” policy at the end of the 19th century, in fact, until the early 20th century, the two countries were still extremely distant. After the outbreak of the Pacific War at the end of 1941, the United States and China experienced a brief and fractious four-year alliance. After the end of World War II, the U.S. soon regarded Japan as its main ally in Asia, an aspect of the Sino-American conflict that could not be ignored in those years. The formation of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War pattern and the triumph of the Chinese Revolution in the late 1940s and the subsequent Korean War caused a prolonged standoff and isolation between the two countries. It was not until the early 1970s that relations between the two countries thawed and began a process of normalization, with diplomatic relations formally established on January 1, 1979. Over the next 40 years, the overall U.S.-China relationship has continued to develop, and while there have been conflicts and friction during this period, it has been the most stable period in history and the period in which both sides have benefited the most from the relationship.

Currently, the U.S.-China relationship may be entering a new phase with uncertain prospects. Therefore, it is extremely important to summarize past historical experiences and lessons learned, which can enable both sides to better face the future.

II. Historical Experience Provided by the Evolution of U.S.-China Relations

Sino-U.S. relations have gone through different situations such as estrangement, alliance, confrontation, confrontation, détente, cooperation, and friction. There are many experiences and lessons worth summarizing in the rich history. Here are only two aspects that I have experienced more deeply in my research work.

1. From a historical perspective, the most noteworthy factors affecting Sino-US relations are two.

(1) U.S.-China relations have never been a simple bilateral relationship, and understanding the evolution of U.S.-China relations needs to be placed in a multilateral framework. Historically, the evolution of U.S.-China relations has been heavily influenced by third-party or multilateral factors.  After the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, in their mutual policies, considerations of bilateral relations gradually became dominant, and other factors receded to the background, but not non-existent. Among them, the influence of a single country as a single third-party factor may have declined; however, the influence of multilateral factors and comprehensive considerations have been increasing in the U.S.-China relationship. In recent years, this trend has become more pronounced with the rise of China. For two world powers, this is inevitable. From China’s perspective, this means that when analyzing and responding to policy changes on the U.S. side, it is important to have a broader global perspective and to consider the impact and influence of multiple factors. In this regard, our understanding is still inadequate.

(2) The deep-seated factors that dominate the evolution of U.S.-China relations are internal changes in China, and the closeness of relations between the two countries depends to a large extent on the judgment of both sides on the world outlook. The bilateral relationship is jointly shaped by the two countries and is an interactive process. The evolution of U.S.-China relations is generally characterized by a more active U.S. position, due to the difference in the comprehensive national power of the two countries and their positions in the international system; however, at a deeper level, two main factors dominate the evolution of U.S.-China relations: one is the internal changes in China, and the other is the judgment of both sides on the world outlook. An examination of the history of U.S.-China relations reveals that a series of major changes within China in the 20th century have had a significant impact on the evolution of U.S.-China relations. For example, the Xinhai Revolution, the May Fourth Movement, the All-National War of Resistance, the victory of the Chinese Revolution, the Sino-Soviet split, the reform and opening up of China that began in the late 1970s, and so on. If we go deeper, we will find that the similarity and difference of the two sides’ judgment of the world’s prospects largely determine the affinity of the two countries, and the change of such judgment often becomes the precursor of the adjustment of their mutual policies. When discussing the relationship between China and the United States, people are very concerned about the common or opposite interests; however, for a large country like China and the United States, the judgment on the world outlook will largely determine the trade-off of interests. Therefore, how to seek consensus on the prospect of world development is extraordinarily important for the stability of Sino-U.S. relations.

2. Four basic lessons and experiences in handling bilateral relations between China and the United States.

(1) Regardless of the status of Sino-U.S. relations, it must be remembered that the two countries have very different national conditions, and in handling mutual relations, it is necessary to continuously deepen the understanding of each other’s national conditions, on the one hand to avoid and reduce miscalculation; on the other hand, to formulate more targeted policies. History shows that for large countries like China and the United States, the influence of external forces on the internal affairs and development path of either side is limited. The expansion and deepening of exchanges between countries helps one country to learn from the experience of others, but each country’s system and development path is necessarily rooted in its own history and culture, and its improvement depends on the practice and experience of its own people.

(2) At the critical moment of transition, when conflicts arise between China and the United States, both sides need to remain calm, restrained and far-sighted, first, to avoid escalation of tensions and confrontation as much as possible, and second, to leave room for maneuvering regardless of the state of relations between the two sides. From the late 1940s to the late 1960s, except for a direct battle in Korea, the leaders of the two countries were careful to leave some room for maneuver in their mutual relations and were not as tough as they appeared to be. For example, Truman decided not to get involved in the Chinese civil war and not to expand the Korean War into Chinese territory, Mao was very concerned not to hurt the Americans during the second shelling of Kinmen, and thereafter when Chiang Kai-shek attempted to counterattack the mainland and when the U.S. escalated the war in Vietnam, the U.S. and China used various channels to achieve crisis management and avoid another direct confrontation without formal diplomatic relations. This preserved the opportunity for a later transformation of U.S.-China relations. The failure to avoid confrontation in Korea was largely due to a miscalculation on the part of the United States; the failure of détente to emerge earlier was due to a lack of policy flexibility on both sides.

(3) In a sense, it is through confrontation and confrontation that China and the United States have come to understand each other better, and it is most important to recognize each other’s strengths and their limits so that fears can be dispelled. When one side has a strong policy, there is often fear inside. Understanding each other’s strengths and their limits is a prerequisite for building mutual trust if fears are to be eliminated between great powers. For example, after the founding of New China, there was a longstanding fear of an armed invasion of China by the United States, while the United States feared communist expansion in Asia. By the 1970s, when China saw that the United States could not even win the Vietnam War and the United States saw that China’s internal problems were piling up as a result of the Cultural Revolution, the previous fears of both sides ceased to exist. This was an important condition for the normalization of U.S.-China relations to begin. Now, for the first time, the U.S. fear of China as a major challenger is emerging. Similar fears have arisen three times in U.S. history: in World War II with Germany, Italy and Japan, in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and in the once fast-growing Japan. The U.S. experience and approach to these challenges will have implications for U.S. policy toward China. It is likely that China and the United States will have to play the game for a period of time before they can understand each other’s true intentions and the limits of their power and face up to the need for continued cooperation.

(4) Shaping U.S.-China relations to suit the needs of the times requires wisdom and creativity, and the courage to break with convention. Many links and stories in the process of normalizing U.S.-China relations illustrate this point. For example, U.S. President Richard Nixon visited Beijing when China and the U.S. did not have diplomatic relations, China and the U.S. established a liaison office, and the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. became a prelude to China’s reform and opening up, etc. At present, to cope with the predicament of Sino-US relations and to build a future-oriented Sino-US relationship requires greater wisdom and more creativity, not only considering bilateral issues, but also observing more from a global perspective and thinking from the perspective of stabilizing and improving the international order.

III. New Factors Affecting U.S.-China Relations

The beginning of the changes in Sino-US relations can be traced back to around the end of the Cold War in the last century. Since then, a series of events such as the Gulf War, 9/11, the U.S.-Iraq War, and the global financial crisis have delayed the outbreak of Sino-U.S. conflicts. after 2000, I have emphasized in several articles that China’s relationship with the world and its national security have entered a sensitive period. Integration into the world has been an important factor in the success of China’s reform and opening up, and the major changes it has brought about are unprecedentedly close ties between China and the world, as well as unprecedented constraints on China.

1. The recent wave of globalization, driven by high technology and information technology, has brought about a series of new issues that have led to increased competition among countries, especially among the major powers. These new issues include the rapid movement of capital, the rapid shift of manufacturing and industrial chains, the replacement of traditional employment by artificial intelligence, the growing division between rich and poor, the difficulties of the middle class, the rise of populism, the blurring of the line between domestic and foreign affairs, and so on. These new issues have impacted countries around the world to varying degrees and are the backdrop for the conflicts between China and the United States to come to the fore. The convergence of the problems faced by countries means that the previous solutions to their respective problems through complementary approaches have failed, and the competition among countries has thus intensified.

2. China has become the most important variable in the contemporary world and needs to adjust its way of thinking in handling foreign relations and accumulate experience in major power games. China is now the world’s second largest economy, with unprecedented international influence; at the same time, reform has entered deep water, and there is uncertainty about China’s internal development. Under such circumstances, the United States, major powers and neighboring countries are bound to pay great attention to changes in China’s domestic and foreign affairs, make assessments of China’s development in various aspects, and prepare for or prevent them. China’s own development is so closely linked to changes in the external environment that we are required to anticipate the reaction of the external world and make plans to deal with it. Especially in the first move to watch a few moves, leaving a backhand, planning to move.

3, China and the United States has structural contradictions, the formation of a comprehensive competitive situation, the basis of mutual trust in the past has ceased to exist. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S., the basis of mutual trust between the two sides is that the two countries are very different in terms of comprehensive national power, and have common needs in security, and can form complementary in economic aspects. In recent years, with the rapid development of China, the U.S. and China have gradually become fully competitive. The arrival of this situation so quickly was more or less unexpected, but it is something that both China and the United States will have to face sooner or later. The question now is which direction the U.S.-China competition will take, whether it will tend toward vicious competition leading to decoupling or confrontation between the two sides, or whether a situation of fair competition plus continued cooperation can be formed. Our will is clear, that is, to avoid the former and strive for the latter.

4. How to solve the problem of compatibility of the Chinese model and Chinese volume with the existing world system is the key to achieving peace, development, cooperation and win-win situation. The hotly debated question of when China will replace the United States in recent years is actually a false proposition. The world of the future will be multipolar and pluralistic, not a replica of the 20th century, and it will be difficult to reproduce the existing U.S. model of supremacy. The real question is how the two great powers, with huge economic ties and many common interests, but with different institutions and systems, will face the future world under competitive conditions. This question is a challenge not only for China and the United States, but also for the world. The reform and opening up started the process of China’s integration into the existing world system, and China has developed and grown as a result. If China today is to persevere on the path of peaceful development, it must learn to see itself from the world’s perspective and properly handle conflicts with other countries, both developed and developing, while safeguarding its own interests. In fact, there are quite a few such contradictions that can no longer be avoided. To promote changes in the global governance system and build a community of human destiny, we must first avoid confrontation, ease structural contradictions and establish rules and order acceptable to all parties. This will be a multi-party game, the current trade negotiations between China and the United States is only the opening.

Editor: Liang Bin SF055


文摘自 | 宏战略


















据中国国家统计局数据显示,2018年全国居民人均住房建筑面积为39平方米,美国有关资料显示,美国人均住房面积约为65平方米,美国人均住房面积是中国的1. 7倍。


国家卫健委发布的《2018年中国卫生健康事业发展统计公报》显示,2018年中国居民平均预期寿命为77岁,比1949年的35 岁增加了42岁。据世界卫生组织公布的2018年《世界健康统计》的数据,美国平均预期寿命为78.5岁,位居全球第34位,中国为76.4岁,居全球第52位,美国平均预期寿命比中国多2.1岁。


















根据中国国家统计局和美国经济分析局的数据,2017-2019年美国GDP总量约为19.39、 20.54和21.43万亿美元,中国GDP分别为12.25、13.6、13.9万亿美元,中国GDP占美国的比重分别为63.2%、66.2%、67.8%。







19、人均GDP:美国是中国的 6.3倍









按照国家统计局数据,2018年、2019年中国第三产业增加值为70960亿美元和 77442亿美元。同期,根据美国经济分析局的数据,美国是165147.5亿美元和173571亿美元。2018年、2019年中国第三产业增加值分别是美国的44%和45%。


















































第一,由轻视中国向重视甚至恐惧中国转变。过去美国以人类灯塔自命,居高临下看待中国。两国间的矛盾主要是美国试图按照自身好恶改造中国。上世纪90 年代初,美方认为冷战后中国对美战略价值下降,对华干涉冲动增强,但多是以人权名义施加压力,在经贸领域和人员往来方面则一直加强交流,以谋取实际利益并借此影响和改变中国。经贸领域中虽有矛盾冲突,但更多是服务改变中国政治目的的施压手段。对于中国改革和发展的成功,美方则坚信“中国崩溃论”,认为社会主义制度与市场经济不能兼容,中国的经济增长不可能持久,社会制度也必将走向瓦解,中国难以成长为美国等量级的对手。现在,美方开始认识到中国社会制度的巩固和发展道路的成功,特别是对中国发展的规模和增长的速度感到震撼,认为中国是超越历史上德国、苏联、日本的从未遇到过的全方位战略竞争对手,对于如何应对中国崛起产生了一种无从措手的恐惧。

第二,由对华战略从容向战略焦躁转变。过去美国以冷战胜利者自居,认为 21世纪仍将是美国世纪,中国最终会屈服于美国霸权。因此,美方在处理对华关系时心态较为从容,没有强烈的紧迫感,相信时间和历史会站在自己一边。也正是在这种傲慢心态的作用下,美国放任金融资本无序发展,经济脱实向虚,引发国际金融危机,挥霍了冷战后全球化浪潮带来的发展红利;任意干涉发展中国家内政,不惜以战争手段推行美式政治制度,引发国际恐怖主义浪潮,浪费了冷战后国际局势缓和的和平红利;大搞单边主义,挤压他国战略空间,破坏了冷战阴云初散后晨光乍现的国际合作机遇。这些所作所为逆世界和平与发展的大势而动,加速了美国霸权的衰弱。面对快速发展的中国,美方感觉到形势发展于己不利,自信心严重动摇,产生了一种战略上急功近利的焦躁。




20年前,笔者曾在本刊撰文,就苏联解体之后的中美关系作过分析,认为战略安全、意识形态、经贸关系、台湾问题是构成中美关系总体框架的四大因素,美国对外干涉主义倾向的发展、大国之间相互关系的变化、中国经济的发展与综合国力的提高、台湾局势的演变与美台关系的变迁,则是影响未来中美关系的四个主要变量。(参见张宏志:《剧变后的反思——苏联解体与中美关系》,《党的文献》2000年第 6期。)进而得出了中美关系具有颠簸和稳定的两重性,这种两重性是由美国对华政策中遏制和接触的两面性决定的;在当时的历史条件下,美国对华接触的一面超过遏制的一面,两国关系总体上能够保持稳定的结论。20年后的今天,回过头来再看中美关系,仍可以通过这四大因素和四个变量来进行分析。






从以上四个角度观察,可以发现,中美关系经过 20多年的发展演变,在总体框架不变的情况下,内涵正在悄然发生改变,两国关系的基础仍然存在,但已经受到严重侵蚀。正因为如此,国际上关于文明冲突、修昔底德陷阱、新的两极格局和冷战 2.0等种种声浪此起彼伏。然而,从前述影响中美关系的四个主要变量来看,两国关系的基础仍有稳固的一面,远未到达崩塌时刻。






正因为如此,在美方霸权心态得到调整之前,中美关系难以全面好转,也不可能回到 20多年前的状态,但尚不至于彻底崩盘。遏制中国的发展虽已成为美国统治阶层大多数人的共同目标,但时移势异,搞全面对抗已很难行得通,接触作为一种战略手段也不会放弃,美国对华政策仍具两面性,遏制与接触、打压与交流交互并进,如影随形。中美关系在很长一段时间会更加颠簸,但总体上尚在可控范围之内。中国与美国之间将长期处于一种“谈谈” ——“打打”——“谈谈”的斗争与合作交织、交错的相持局面,场景变幻更加频繁,可能是一波未平、一波又起,也不排除在特定时段、特定领域发生较为激烈的对抗。



美国通过 40多年的冷战,以政治、经济、文化、军事、外交各方面的全方位对抗,最终拖垮了苏联。美国一些人认为可以通过同样的手段拖垮中国,国内也有人担心爆发新的冷战会阻断中华民族复兴的历史进程。但是,如果我们冷静分析世界发展大局和中国未来发展趋势,我们就会发现,时代已经发生了变化,今天的中国也绝不是过去的苏联,美国如果执意发动对华冷战,仍将是在“错误的时间,错误的地点,与错误的敌人进行一场错误的战争”,必将招致比朝鲜战争更大的失败,甚至从根本上动摇美国的霸权。这也是美国反华势力不能不考虑的风险。

第一,时代条件和世人对时代条件的认识与运用不同。美苏冷战发生于上世纪中叶。当时,第二次世界大战刚结束不久,战争阴霾尚未散尽,而世界分裂为东西两大阵营,相互之间形成了激烈的竞争和对抗。美国作为西方阵营的首领,利用世界各国战后的虚弱和修复战争创伤的迫切需求,以自由市场经济为旗帜,掌握了世界上大部分资源,形成了美方掌控的世界市场体系,客观上顺应了初现端倪的经济全球化浪潮。而苏联方面坚持高度集中的计划经济体制,虽然在战后恢复时期一度表现出高速发展的优势,但不能灵活适应社会需求的弱点日益暴露出来,加之没有认识到经济全球化的发展趋向,坚持“两个平行市场”的理论,使整个东方集团与世界市场脱节,自我孤立于逐步兴起的经济全球化的大潮之外。苏美双方对比,美方处于顺势而为,苏方处于逆势操作,竞争结果是苏方越来越处于被动地位,东方集团内部国家的离心倾向也越来越大,消耗了苏联大量精力和资源,最终引发了苏东剧变。在冷战结束 20多年后的今天,和平与发展已是当今世界的主题,世界多极化、经济全球化已经不可逆转,全球经济已深度融合为一体,搞集团对抗也已不得人心。中国经过 40多年的改革开放,探索出一条中国特色社会主义道路,确立了社会主义市场经济体制,实施全方位对外开放,主动融入经济全球化浪潮,已经成为世界第二大经济体、第一大工业国、第一大货物贸易国、第一大外汇储备国和第二大进口国,对世界经济增长的年均贡献率超过30%,不仅成为了“世界工厂”而且正在成为“世界市场”,是世界经济体系和全球产业链中不可或缺的一环。在这种条件下割断与中国的经济联系、全面封锁中国,必将导致自我孤立和内部分裂。美国如果发动对华冷战,将是逆经济全球化大势而动,而中国坚持对外开放则是顺势而行,成败利钝不言而喻。



从以上三个方面分析,我们可以得出结论,苏联历史上的失败更多是源于自身的不足和失误。在 21世纪的今天,面对当今的中国,重拾冷战思维已经是时过境迁、主客易势,试图以冷战阻挡中国发展更是背时逆势之举,是身体进入 21世纪、脑袋还停留在旧时代的“时空错乱”。我们不能断言美国不会以冷战方式遏制中国,但可以断定这种图谋必将失败。和平与发展的时代主题没有变,世界多极化与经济全球化的历史大势没有变,中华民族走向复兴的内生动力也没有变,“时”与“势”均在我们一方。只要我们坚定中国特色社会主义的道路自信、理论自信、制度自信、文化自信,保持战略定力,不为一时压力所动摇,也不受一事挑逗而冲动,努力实现我们自己的既定战略目标,我们就一定能战胜任何外部挑战。眼前面临这些困难是中华民族复兴征程中必经的风暴,是具有新的历史特点的伟大斗争的组成部分,但,风暴可以掀翻小池塘,但不能掀翻中国这片大海。当我们挺过这场风暴之后,我们将会迎来一片彩虹,中华民族的伟大复兴将迈上一个新的历史阶梯,包括美国在内的世界也会以不一样的眼光看待那时的中国。





























About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated, with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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