“Navigating a Rocky Road: Seeking Common Ground in the Escalating US-China Economic Relations”

Ever since the Trump administration’s trade war, tensions between the US and China have been escalating. Now, as of mid-2023, economic relations between the US and China are deteriorating further. Amid the growing threat of a Taiwan invasion, the Biden administration is doing its best to stunt Chinese capabilities: and they’re starting by cutting economic ties. The administration’s initial efforts have focused on the private sector. In recent executive orders, the administration has made it extremely hard for US private corporations to invest in and export to Chinese companies. The computer chip trade is bearing the majority of the heat, due to concerns that chip development can be used to bolster Chinese military capabilities. A recent CNBC article details that the administration stumped private investors’ interest in 59 Chinese companies, including Aerosun and Huawei, on the basis that they are contributing to the government’s geopolitical desires. China’s support for Putin and Russia in the Russia-Ukraine war isn’t doing much to help things either.  

Though the China-US relationship seems to be plagued with differing interests, both sides seem to see stabilizing the relationship as a beneficial endeavor. Both Secretary of State Anthony Blinkon and Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang have expressed a desire to repair trust, with Qin even calling it a “top priority.”

But it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows: the terms for a “stable relationship” are different for each side. The US wants China to abandon its attempts at invading Taiwan, and to amend its systems of authoritarianism and state capitalism. Human rights concerns also fall into the mix. On the other hand, the Chinese view ‘stabilizing’ as the U.S. refraining from interference in Chinese affairs.

So, on June 19, with the prospect of “decoupling” seemingly materializing, Secretary of State Anthony Blinkon made his high-profile trip to China to reestablish “communication” between the countries, to decrease the chance of misperception and miscalculation, as well as to assert the importance of collaborative efforts both bilaterally and in addressing global issues. The meeting aims to identify areas of cooperation and common ground between the U.S. and China.

Not surprisingly, Taiwan was not accepted as one of those “areas for collaboration”: China has blatantly refused to halt their efforts. 

But Blinken’s not the only one on the frontlines. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is making her four-day trip to Beijing this week to try to ease tensions, especially surrounding tariffs and export policies the US has placed on Chinese goods. A strong believer that decoupling would be disastrous, she is a much-needed voice of moderation.  

While specific routes to cooperation are yet to be officially pursued, it goes without saying that the possibilities are numerous. As discussed in my previous article, climate change is both an extremely plausible and dire area for cooperation. Cooperation can also extend to business relations: business is not all profits and commodities; it can serve as a platform for multicultural exchange and the sharing of diverse ideas.

“Finding common ground” is not just a slogan for my website or a hyperbolic phrase. It’s real. And it’s a phrase that has found its way into the vocabulary of the officials from two of the most powerful governments in the world. 

It’s something that needs to happen and needs to be continued. 

The next generation will one day take the reins of government, and the importance of preserving the China-US relationship is a message that needs to be spread. 

And it’s why GenZBeyondBorders is committed to spreading some of the ways collaboration can be fostered.