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Decoupling is an American daydream

By Tu Xinquan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-08-10 07:40
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Some US politicians have launched an anti-China campaign on trade, scientific and technological, public opinion and diplomatic fronts to fulfill their political requirements in the short term and contain China's rise in the long run.

In addition to setting up barriers to normal Sino-US exchanges, Washington has also been pressuring US allies to build an anti-China alliance to decouple China from the rest of the world, in order to check China's technological and economic progress.

The growth of the Chinese mainland's economic and technological strength, the differences between Beijing and Washington on the Taiwan question, and the South China Sea and other issues, as well as the mainland's highly effective response-compared with the US' pathetic response-to the novel coronavirus pandemic have all added to the anxiety of some US politicians.

The competition between China and the US is normal-and necessary for driving human progress. But any competition should be benign and carried out according to international rules and norms. The global governance system led by the United Nations has facilitated post-World War II economic development and helped maintain peace worldwide, in which the US once played a key role.

As for economic globalization, we need to acknowledge that it has had some negative effects on some countries. We also need to realize that the political, economic and social systems of many countries are not prepared to deal with the external shocks brought about by globalization. Therefore, it is understandable that some countries want to adjust the speed and manner of their participation in the globalization process.

But the US, as the initiator and biggest beneficiary of globalization, has violated all globalization and international rules by resorting to trade protectionism, in a bid to harm China, the European Union, Japan and other economies, and withdrawing from several important international organizations and agreements. Ironically, by doing so, the US that has been fast decoupling itself from the rest of the world, which is definitely not what the American public wants.

In fact, many US scholars and experts have called for a remolding of US foreign policy and a return to multilateralism. Although the multilateralism some in the US advocate may not necessarily include China, we still hope the next US administration would respect international rules and help improve the global governance system. On this basis-and on the basis of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence-China is willing to engage in constructive dialogue with the US, so as to reshape bilateral ties.

China does not want to decouple with the US, but that does not mean it will succumb to the US administration's threats. Since its founding in 1949, New China has faced many difficult situations and successfully dealt with them all.

True, China's rapid development over the past 40-odd years has been propelled by reform and opening-up and its increasing integration with the global economy. But China's efforts in recent years to boost domestic demand and strengthen domestic drivers of economic growth have helped it lower the share of exports in GDP from a peak of 35 percent to 17 percent in 2019 and trade surplus in goods from a high of 7.6 percent to 2.9 percent.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the world's dependence on the Chinese economy grew from 0.4 in 2000 to 1.2 in 2017, while China's dependence on the world economy peaked at 0.9 in 2007 dropping to 0.6 in 2017.

At present, no country can isolate China from the world. China is now the world's second-largest economy, and the largest manufacturer and trader in goods. It is also the largest trading partner of more than 120 economies, and even countries such as the US and Australia which are trying to decouple from China cannot ignore its importance.

In April this year, China once again became the largest trading partner of the US, and in June it accounted for 60 percent of Australia's exports. And as a major economic power, China has the ability and obligation to make greater contributions to the global economy.

The so-called Sino-US decoupling process is being pushed by the US administration. But instead of decoupling with the world, China will continue to deepen cooperation with all countries, including the US, that are willing to conduct normal economic and trade exchanges with it.

China will also continue to shorten the negative list for foreign investors, improve the business environment and strengthen intellectual property rights protection, as well as deepen reform, allow the market to play a more decisive role in resource allocation, increase transparency, strengthen the rule of law, promote social equality and justice, and build a community with a shared future for mankind by increasing common interests and improving understanding with other economies.

In other words, as long as the US acts in good faith, China will find a way to engage cooperation and mutually beneficial exchanges. But if the US continues its damaging pursuit, China will take counter measures, while continuing to work with the rest of the world to boost global economic recovery and improve the global governance system.

The author is director of the China Institute for WTO Studies, University of International Business and Economics. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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