onsdag 4. november 2020

Is China right to bet on inevitable US decline?

There is a growing consensus in China that the US is now in inevitable decline, whatever the outcome of the US elections. But China cannot afford to draw comfort from this view. It not only faces serious challenges in taking advantage of, or protecting itself, from possible US decline – it might even have misjudged the US altogether.

No matter what the outcome of the upcoming US presidential elections, Chinese conventional wisdom is that the US is in long-term decline. According to this view, held by many of the Chinese elite, a second Trump presidency would accelerate that decline whereas a Biden presidency may stave it off or slow it for a period, but the long-term trend is downwards.

Yet as strongly held as this view may be, it does not provide an obvious path for Chinese foreign policy. Instead, in the areas of trade, the environment, and security, Chinese foreign policy will more likely be a product of longer-terms trends and debates about how China can best sustain economic growth, transition to a less polluting form of development, and protect its interests in an increasingly unpredictable and risk-filled world.