China should not engage in tit-for-tat punitive measures that would lead to decoupling with the United States, and instead should press on with opening up and developing its economy, a prominent Chinese academic has warned.
Adding his voice to a number of high-profile calls for more engagement with the US, Zha Daojiong, a professor of international political economy at Peking University’s school of international studies, told an online forum last week that there had always been a level of separation between the two economies in some areas but the concept had gained more currency in the United States in the last few years.
However, responding to the US push for further decoupling – as some hawks in China have urged – would only harm China.
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“In fact, the United States has always kept a distance from China in terms of economic and trade policies. For example, the export of dual-use technology and hi-tech products has always been highly controlled by the US,” Zha said.
“For every country, it’s wise to cooperate if it can cooperate. But if one country wants a decoupling, it’s unwise for the other countries to follow that line and make it a reality.
“Even if the US drops the usage of ‘decoupling’ in the future, they will emphasise ‘reciprocity’,” Zha said, adding that China would be made to suffer if the US suffered.
Zha made his comments in the Boya Forum, a Peking University Press book promotion platform, and a transcript of his comments was released on Monday.
Zha said China must instead focus on meeting international technology and standards, and continuing to deepen reform and opening up.
“In addition, China has to improve its manufacturing and integration as well as transnational logistics,” he said. “We must make our products compatible with as many countries as possible and shall never pride ourselves on being ranked second … and stop being compatible with others.”
Ties between China and the US have deteriorated in the last two years, with tit-for-tat punitive tariffs, sanctioning of government officials, and targeting of media outlets.
US-China decoupling is already happening, says Donald Trump’s former security chief John Bolton, also calling for open borders for Hongkongers
Zha’s comments echoed Politburo member Yang Jiechi’s appeal last week to the US to repair the damaged China-US relationship.
Early in July, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said that China would pursue cooperation with the US on the basis of goodwill and sincerity.
Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily weighed in on Monday, saying in a commentary that it would be a misjudgment for the US to decouple from China.
“Since China and the US established diplomatic relations over 40 years ago, the two countries have given full play to their complementary economic advantages and formed a deeply integrated community of shared interests,” the commentary said.
“Facts have shown that the ‘coupling’ and integration of the Chinese and US economies is a wise move based on the common interests of both sides.”
This article China-US relations: keep calm and don’t decouple, Chinese professor urges first appeared on South China Morning Post