The Ngee Ann Kongsi-RSIS Distinguished Public Lecture by Professor Wang Jisi
06 April 2023
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.
Last updated on 10/04/2023