The recent Sino-U.S. high-level economic and trade talks have made progress on specific issues, sending a positive signal to the world that trade frictions can be resolved properly. Even if there’s an agreement on trade, however, the comprehensive competition between the two countries will continue indefinitely, said David Shambaugh, Director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University, in a written interview with Beijing Review reporter Yu Shujun. Shambaugh’s views follow:
Basically, I believe that even if there is an agreement on trade between the two sides (which I hope there will be), the comprehensive competition between the two countries will continue indefinitely.
The task before both sides, therefore, is to seize all opportunities for cooperation wherever possible, and to "manage competition" so that it does not become a fully adversarial relationship.
Competition is entirely natural and to be expected in a major power relationship. It should be embraced and not rejected. We should not be afraid of competition; there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. Competition is not necessarily zero-sum. It is, I would argue, inherently positive-sum, because it pushes competitors to excel and do their best. This is true in sports and other domains. It also permits competitive pluralism in the marketplace of goods and services in commerce and the marketplace of ideas in the academic and research world, etc.
Both sides should recognize reality and describe the U.S.-China relationship as it is—competitive—while, at the same time, trying to find the potential areas of cooperation.
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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