"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Wu Hailong, president of China Public Diplomacy Association, used British novelist Charles Dickens' quote to describe the world we live in today.
In this world, the relationship between China and the U.S., the world's two largest economies, is not only a concern to the two peoples, but also to other countries around the globe. However, as trade war grinds on, experts believe the short-term prospect of China-U.S. ties might look dim, yet in the long run, they are still optimistic.
The pair has to get along, because the relationship is too big to fail, said Cui Liru, a senior researcher at Taihe Institute and Former President of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, in an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN).
"The influence of the trade ties between the two major countries is too big. If the trade ties fall apart, both sides will lose and they are aware of it. Even though the U.S. and China are confronting each other on trade, they still want to reach a deal in the end," Cui commented.
Is the trade war really about trade?
"As the trade battle deepens, most people might just think of it as an issue of trade. I think the trade war is not caused by trade itself, but the U.S. people's fear of China surpassing it," said Ding Yifan, a senior researcher at Taihe Institute and former Permanent Vice-Director of World Development Institute of Development Research Center of the State Council, in an interview with CGTN.
The expert recalled how it all started. At first, the purpose of the U.S. slapping tariffs on Chinese products is that it wants to contain China's "Made in China 2025" strategy.
Traders work after the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 12, 2019 at Wall Street in New York City. /VCG Photo
"Made in China 2025", unveiled four years ago by China's State Council, is the first 10-year action plan designed to transform China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power.
What the U.S. worries most is not China surpassing it in economy, but in technology. One of the priorities of the blueprint is to develop technology, and this is what besets the U.S., Ding pointed out.
Cui believes what's behind the trade war is that the U.S. has viewed China as its strategic competitor and this will not change no matter which party is in power.
Stephen Orlins, president of National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, said at the Taihe Forum last Saturday that he is totally opposed to the U.S. viewing China as a strategic competitor and a revisionist, adding the direct impact of which is to harm the interests of the U.S. itself.
A Chinese crane unloads containers from a train onto trucks at a port in Yingkou, a major port city in Liaoning Province, on July 18, 2018. /VCG Photo
The U.S. defense budget is 750 billion U.S. dollars this year, which reminded Orlins of a quote from former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
Expanding and exaggerating the strategic confrontation between China and the U.S. will actually make the U.S. use resources in the wrong place, which will cause harm to both countries, Orlins pointed out.
As U.S. President Donald Trump is facing mounting pressure of next year's presidential election and the trade war is taking a tolling on U.S. economy, he might find a way to ease the trade tensions with China before the election, predicted Ding.
I think even though Trump reached a deal with China, it will not be the end. The U.S. people's fear of China is what decided that it will keep pressuring China, which is painful. The U.S. will not reconsider the question until China completely surpasses the U.S. in technology, he added.
And Wu is confident that only China itself can beat China, citing Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's quote that "The rest of the world, too, has to adjust to a larger role for China. Countries have to accept that China will continue to grow and strengthen, and that it is neither possible nor wise for them to prevent this from happening."
Wu said the U.S. disconnection with China will only push China closer to other countries, saying the cooperative bonds such as the Belt and Road Initiative, 17+1 cooperation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will only link China with the rest of the world tighter.
Wu Hailong, President of China Public Diplomacy Association, delivers a speech at the the openning ceremony of the 3rd Taihe Forum in Beijing, September 7, 2019. /Photo via Taihe Forum
'A mother in Shanghai and a mother in New York share the same worry'
"A mother in Shanghai and a mother in New York share the same worry about their children's future," Orlins used a metaphor to describe current China-U.S. ties, implying that the two countries still have broad common interests and will find ways to cope with real challenges such as climate change, diseases and economic crisis.
Stephen Orlins, president of National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, attends the openning ceremony of the 3rd Taihe Forum in Beijing, September 7, 2019. /Photo via Taihe Forum
U.S. cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Orlins called on every Chinese and Americans to oppose negative voices and bad policies and make better decisions for the next generation.
Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies under Renmin University of China, said at the forum that trade friction is only a small part of China-U.S. ties and both countries should adapt themselves to normal competition.
Wang said there are plenty of areas that the two countries can work on together, such as infrastructure construction, anti-terrorism and 5G, so as to transfer the tension brought by trade friction.
Complicated and changeable as the world is, experts are still optimistic about the future. They believe "It was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the epoch of belief, it was the season of light, it was the spring of hope."
*This article was first published on CGTN: Expert: China-U.S. ties are too big to fail
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