The China-US relationship has been in a downward spiral since 2012. Three explanations can be provided for its deterioration. First, the power equation between the two countries in the last decade has tilted toward China. The US wants to contain this rising China, whereas China is more confident and assertive in resisting US pressure. Second, the differences between their political systems, ideologies and values are so acute that mutual accommodation is impossible. Third, political and economic changes within the two countries have given rise to populist nationalism and protectionism that have caused deepening mutual distrust. These three causes have reinforced each other and jointly make the corrosion of the relationship almost irreversible. The Biden administration and the US Congress describe China as the principal long-term strategic competitor, and the PRC leadership views the US as threatening its national security and political stability. At the beginning of 2023, there have been some signs that both Beijing and Washington are making efforts to avoid a head-on confrontation. However, as neither side seems ready to adjust their strategic trajectory, the worsening of the relationship will likely continue. The best hope is that there will be no war and their economic and societal engagement will persist.
About the Speaker
Wang Jisi is a Peking University Boya Chair Professor Emeritus, having taught at the University’s School of International Studies. He is honorary president of the Chinese Association for American Studies.
After working as a labourer in the Chinese countryside in 1968-78, Wang Jisi entered Peking University and obtained an MA degree there in 1983. He was a visiting fellow or visiting professor at Oxford University (1982-83), University of California at Berkeley (1984-85), University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (1990-91), and Claremont McKenna College in California (2001). He was invited as a Global Scholar by Princeton University in 2011-15 and spent 9 months in total there with the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Wang Jisi taught in Peking University’s Department of International Politics (1983-91), and then served as director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences until 2005. From 2005 to 2013, Wang Jisi was dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University. He was concurrently director of the Institute of International Strategic Studies of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China from 2001 to 2009. He served as a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of China’s Foreign Ministry from 2008 to 2016.
Professor Wang’s scholarly interests cover U.S. foreign policy, China’s foreign relations, and Asian security. He has published numerous works in these fields.