Dr Andrew Scobell, Distinguished Fellow with the China Program at the United States Institute of Peace, gave a seminar on “Perception and Misperception in US-China Relations” at RSIS on 5 October 2022, which attemped to address a few important questions in US-China relations.
What is the most accurate way to depict the current relationship between the global hegemon and the world’s most potent rising power? How did US‐China relations get to this point? Where is the relationship headed?
With these questions in mind, Dr Scobell observed that in 2022, the US‐China relationship is best characterised as full‐blown great‐power rivalry. He explained that this rivalry has been building for decades with simmering tensions bursting to the surface only in recent years. He noted that the future of US‐China relations is shrouded in uncertainty and the possibility of a near-term thaw seems most unlikely. Dr Scobell contended that major theories of international relations alone do not seem to account fully for this trajectory. He further argued that political psychology illuminates the central role that perception, misperception, and image have played in US‐China relations. He provided detailed analyses on how perception and misperception have evolved in bilateral interactions from the 1990s to the present, and in various areas, such as ideology, trade, high technology, and security