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Three-dimensional struggle –


US-China competition is completely reshaping the world order

After defining China as a major strategic competitor in 2017, the United States launched a trade war against China the following year, initiating a new major power competition. Since then, Sino-American competition has characterized the international situation.

During the Barack Obama administration, the United States responded to the aftermath of the global financial crisis and implemented a series of measures to contain the rise of China, which were continued under Donald Trump and strengthened under Joe Biden. . After President Biden took office, the United States launched three “wars” against China in order to curb China's industrial development and technological advancement and revive American manufacturing.

The first is the tariff war. By raising barriers for mid- to low-end products made in China to enter the U.S. market, the U.S. government seeks to undermine the price advantage of “Made in China” products and make them less attractive to U.S. consumers. Furthermore, the United States, in conjunction with its allies, has taken protectionist measures targeting China in order to gain market share for Chinese products.

A typical example is the US crackdown on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Under the pretext of so-called national security concerns, the United States is working with some allies to ban 5G equipment provided by Huawei, eroding the company's market share or removing its products entirely from Europe and the United States. The aim was to keep them out. By starting a tariff war, the United States aims to cut off China's access to Western markets.

The second is the technology war. The technology war is a step taken by the United States to hinder the development of China's advanced manufacturing industry and industrial sophistication. The United States' high-tech war against China is unfolding on two fronts. Meanwhile, the United States is trying to curb China's technological progress by placing Chinese high-tech companies on the Entity List for export controls. Meanwhile, it has created barriers for Chinese companies to invest in the United States by tightening the screening process. This two-pronged approach is aimed at preventing China from accessing cutting-edge technology and promoting technological separation between China and the United States.

The third is financial war. Although the United States has so far stopped short of starting a full-scale financial war against China, it has set up barriers for Chinese companies seeking to list in the United States, thereby preventing them from acquiring American capital first. I've been trying. The second is to directly block US investment in China through the issuance of executive orders. The United States' dominant position in the global financial system allows it to rein in China by promoting Sino-American financial decoupling.

In short, the United States has waged three wars against China in order to force China to relocate its industries and supply chains, and to prevent industrial sophistication, thereby surpassing China and becoming the world's most powerful nation. He maintained his supremacy.

In the future, the evolution of the international order will be largely shaped by competition between China and the United States in three areas.

The first is diplomacy.

China-US competition in the diplomatic field is mainly unfolding on three fronts. The first is competition in the international system. America's dominance in the international system is reflected in its control over rules, personnel, and policy. The competition between the United States and China in the field of diplomacy revolves around the struggle for supremacy in the international system, which intensifies the struggle in the international governance system.

The second is competition for market share. Market size is an important factor that determines a company's competitiveness. With the global trading system paralyzed, China and the United States will rush to conclude regional free trade agreements to expand overseas markets.

The third issue is competition over energy security. With the growing importance of critical mineral resources used in clean energy production, the United States is redoubling its diplomatic efforts to secure key raw material minerals. A key example is the Mineral Security Partnership, which aims to win the competition for minerals essential to the green transition.

Overall, US diplomacy is based on a relatively exclusive and strict military alliance system. In contrast, Chinese diplomacy is based on a global network of partnerships focused on more open and flexible cooperation. The future China-US diplomatic competition will essentially be a battle between China's partnership network and the US-led alliance system.

The second battleground between China and the United States is in the realm of capital.

The US political system, which has been plagued by partisan conflict and political polarization in recent years, has undermined the country's ability to tax and reduce fiscal This is leading to instability. To cover the budget deficit, the U.S. government must raise funds from financial markets in the form of government bonds. Its financial hegemony allows the United States to attract capital from around the world and enjoys a steady flow of capital. In comparison, China has a highly efficient and sophisticated tax system, which allows the Chinese government to accumulate wealth domestically. However, China's financial system is different from the US. As a result, Chinese companies are unable to raise large-scale financing overseas. In this sense, Hong Kong's status as an international financial center is extremely important for US-China competition in the capital domain.

In essence, the US-China competition in the capital field is a competition over the efficient use of capital. The more capital flows to innovation, economic production, and social services, the more efficiently capital is used.

The third area of ​​Sino-American competition is technology, which plays out in two dimensions. One is competition in technological innovation, and the other is competition in technological applications, which relies heavily on a relatively complete industrial ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the US domestic innovation ecosystem has largely maintained its vitality, and the country's overall innovation system remains highly active. The country remains a global innovation leader. Meanwhile, large-scale industrial relocation and the decline of manufacturing have weakened America's ability to apply technology and industrialize. This country is experiencing “industrial hollowing'' against the backdrop of economic globalization due to a lack of technology application scenarios. Therefore, technological innovation in the United States can be described as “innovation without industrial support.” For this reason, the country is promoting a modern industrial strategy centered on “friendshoring” and “reshoring.” Meanwhile, the United States is trying to fill the gap in application scenarios and strengthen its innovation capabilities through international technical cooperation.

In comparison, China boasts a solid industrial base and a complete industrial ecosystem. Some Chinese companies have achieved great results by pursuing progressive technological innovation. The country's vibrant industrial clusters also strongly support innovation. However, on the other hand, China still lags behind the United States in basic science and in appealing to global talent.

The competition between the US and China is likely to be a long one.

Ma Xuejing/China Daily

The author is Vice Dean of the School of International Relations, Renmin University of China, Professor of International Relations, and Director of the Center for American Studies. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank supported by China Daily.




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