The U.S. and China have reached a turning point in their economic relations, and are currently locked in a serious trade skirmish, if not yet a full-blown trade war. Negotiations are ongoing, but the possibility of reaching an agreement that will offer a satisfactory long-term outcome for the U.S. is far from clear.
China’s strategy has been to engage economically with the world while resisting pressure to transform its political system and economic policies. China’s leaders view economic policy as an instrument for achieving their grand strategic objectives of preserving the Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly on domestic political power and restoring the country to its historic position as the preponderant power in eastern Eurasia and, eventually, the world.
Today’s controversies over trade, investment, and technology are thus only one part of a much large rivalry between competing systems and worldviews, and the current standoff over tariffs is only the first skirmish in what seems certain to be a protracted and difficult campaign.
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