US-China Relations: Growing Competition and Decreasing Cooperation?

By Qi Zhang, CCAO intern
November 1, 2012

Qi Zhang

“Coopetition”, the new word created by Dr. David Shambaugh, author of Tangled Titans: the United States and China, concludes the changing relationship between US and China, with growing competition and decreasing cooperation. However, in my opinion, the media emphasizes too much the competition for supremacy between China and the U.S.

The author called attention to fundamental elements in US-China relations that have shifted since the 1990s and it is time to reassess elements in diplomatic, commercial, military, global, cultural and other relations. He mentioned his one-year experience in China in 2009 to demonstrate that things have changed for worse between two countries. For example, he regards China’s 60th anniversary military parade as a chance to deter the U.S. For another instance, the reception of President Barack Obama’s visit to China that year was highly controlled by the Chinese side.

The China threat describes the ascending power of China and the fear it is creating to the United States and the rest of the world. With economic freedom and political totalitarian coexisting, China has developed in its own way, different from the democratic countries, known as the China Model. With the control of flow of information by the government, Facebook, twitter and YouTube are banned from access in China, people from outside the world seem to know less about China, and China seems to be mysterious to the world.

When studying in the US, I found that the media puts all the emphasis on China as a threat and focuses on its economic and political power. Most recently the U.S. raised concerns that Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant attempting to expand in the U.S., poses a national-security threat and may violate U.S. laws. However Huawei just sees expanding into the U.S. as a good investment opportunity.

Admittedly, China has a rapid economic growth based on its “China Model”, but there are still a lot of social problems behind the economic growth. As a Chinese, I care more about environment pollutions, food security, rich-poor gap, unbalanced development in eastern and western parts of China and others. We cannot overemphasize the economic growth measured in the GDP, but we have to see the problems related to the development.

Moreover, there are other aspects in addition to economy and politics under the umbrella of relationship, it is highlighted in the book launch that in cultural relations, the Chinese government puts a lot of money in developing Chinese culture to sooth the anxiety of China as a threat, but rather that it is a peaceful and harmonious country.

Of course, as a Chinese, I do not want my home country to be regarded as a threat and it is not indeed. The Chinese government should be more transparent and spark more freedom in information flow. On the counterpart, the world should know more about China, at least not a threat, more about peace.