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The United States, Europe, and Japan might forge a new economic bloc that adopts more coordinated measures to put pressure on China, especially as regards SOEs. However, these efforts encounter resistance and obstruction from the American side, so prolonging US—China competition as China seeks to be a world financial power. Secondly, on the geostrategic level, Chinese analysts hold that the Asia-Pacific, especially the Western Pacific, is the focal point of US—China strategic competition.

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Meanwhile, China has in recent years carried out a more proactive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing acted firmly in its response to other regional countries and in addressing territorial and maritime disputes. There is clear disagreement among Chinese analysts with respect to the changing nature of the regional order. Liu Feng argues that treating security and economy as two separate domains when looking into the East Asian regional order is unwise. International system, be it on the global or regional level, can be any one of four types: complete balance of power; partial balance of power; complete hegemony; or partial hegemony.

From this theoretical perspective, the East Asian regional system since the end of the Cold War period has shifted from a complete hegemonic order dominated by the United States to a partial hegemony comprising several regional economic powers. A complete balance of power might be formed through the rise of China in both the economic and security domains, but uncertainties remain with regard to the process, as well as to the final status of this transition. In addition to the debates on how US—China relations affect the evolving regional order, a number of Chinese scholars stress the significantly greater prominence of the maritime domain in US—China strategic competition in the region.

China is located at the eastern end of the Eurasian landmass and has been viewed geographically and traditionally as a continental power. He contends that a new strategic equilibrium between the two powers has emerged along the waters near the first island chain, which will be maintained for the coming 10—20 years.

Both sides, moreover, have increasingly adopted tit-for-tat military strategies.

The era of U.S.-China cooperation is drawing to a close—What comes next?

In light of the growing actions taken by American naval forces in the South China Sea, therefore, the escalation of small-scale military crisis between the two sides is foreseeable in the coming years. Without doubt, the Asia-Pacific region will be greatly influenced by the BRI if the project is carried out properly. However, as Zhao Minghao contends, although China sees the BRI as a development-oriented endeavour, the United States, among other regional players, is wary that a China-centric regional order might stem from the project. Therefore, a development-security nexus framework should be employed to analyse the implications of the BRI for US—China relations.

Most Chinese scholars agree that the United States has not entered into symmetrical competition with China and the BRI as regards scale and funding. For instance, there is concern that the South Pacific region is becoming a new stage for strategic competition between China and the US-centric bloc. Thirdly, many Chinese scholars contend that the emerging competition between the United States and China over international leadership and prestige is vital to the evolution of the world order in the coming decades.

Against such a background, there are more discussions among Chinese analysts on exactly what kind of international role China should play when it approaches the central stage of world politics. Based on in-depth analyses of the international leadership that America has enacted since the end of the Cold War, Chen argues that China should pursue a more facilitative leadership in international affairs, which bears no resemblance to one that is hegemonic, self-serving, or coercive.

The international influence China has gained in recent years should not be equated with international leadership. Given that the future world will no longer be a unipolar one, it is unlikely that China would be the same kind of international leader as the United States in the wake of the Cold War, although China might, of course, play a leading role in certain areas such as international development. Other scholars, like He Kai and Feng Huiyun, assert that the quest for greater international prestige might be at the core of US—China strategic competition.

Historically speaking, great powers achieve international prestige mainly through winning wars. However, in the current international circumstances, one major country might harvest and enhance its international prestige by facilitating international cooperation. Therefore, in order to address effectively US—China competition, China should promote international cooperation in dealing with global challenges and continue to champion multilateralism.

Chinese scholars have paid more attention to the competition between the two nations over international institutions.

American and Beijing Competition will-Harm the South China Sea

Evidenced by the emphasis in Chinese foreign policy discourse on global governance, Beijing is aware just how imperative using its institutional capabilities is in effectively protecting its economic and investment interests. However, there are different views among Chinese scholars on the prospects for US—China strategic competition. In his view, if such ideological rivalry can be managed well, US—China strategic competition could concentrate on pursuing material power, mainly through economic competition and arms race.

Moreover, the two sides have made joint efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. Nevertheless, the new Cold War narrative serves as an important warning for long-term development of relations between the two powers. First, the United States and the Soviet Union belonged to two different international systems during the Cold War, and there were no economic links between them, whereas under the so-called new Cold War, the major powers are part of one international system, with mutually dependent economic ties. Secondly, confrontation between the major powers during the Cold War was manifested in contests between military forces.


The new Cold War, however, is characterised by geo-economic competition between the major powers. Thirdly, the Cold War was framed as a struggle between the ideologies of capitalism and communism, but the new Cold War is more of a struggle between different development models wherein social media and other technologies allow major powers to exert political influence over rivals.

Fourthly, there were clear divisions between the two opposing camps during the Cold War, but in the new Cold War, rivals can also be friends, and economic partners can be security rivals. Moreover, the new Cold War is characterised by intense competition among the major powers for control of global commons, such as the Internet and outer space, wherein contests are largely associated with controlling connectivity rather than occupying territory.

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Although Chinese analysts take different positions on the trajectories that US—China relations might follow in future, they agree that it is imperative for both sides to manage their competition through conceptual innovation and practical measures. As early as , American policy elites such as Fred C. Bergsten and Zbigniew Brzezinski became advocates of the G2 or Group of Two idea, to which Chinese officials and scholars made a cautious response.

Chinese scholars admit that American responses to this Chinese initiative were not positive. Nevertheless, Beijing and Washington must find a way to coexist competitively, no matter how difficult this may be. From Chinese perspectives, there are certain solutions to managing US—China strategic competition. They are as below. In other words, mutual accommodation, based on the redefinition of their respective national interests and rules for US—China interactions, is a necessity. As Yuan Peng notes, in view of growingly tense US—China strategic competition, China must act with humbleness and prudence and display both confidence and patience. He finds this a more feasible approach for both sides than building strategic trust. Yan Xuetong stresses that, since there are more conflictual interests than common interests in their bilateral relations. Thirdly, as the economic decoupling of China and the United States might result in greater confrontation between the two countries, US—China economic relations need to be put to rights.

China needs to accelerate implementation of the new round of reform and opening-up policy announced in recent years, especially the reduction of barriers to American products and investment. It should also hasten steps to improve its development model and establish a more mature market economy, including deepening reform of state-owned enterprises, empowering non-state enterprises, and promoting market-oriented innovation in high technologies.

Meanwhile, America should review the fundamental role of healthy, balanced globalisation in helping the US economy maintain sustainable growth and avoid resorting to protectionism. US—China investment ties could be an emerging pillar to stabilise bilateral relations. The positive contribution of Chinese investment to the American economy should be acknowledged, and there should be broader openness to prospective Chinese investment.

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There is great potential for US—China cooperation in strengthening global financial architecture. Moreover, it is necessary to deescalate emerging US—China rivalries over infrastructure connectivity and to explore potential cooperation in addressing global infrastructure deficits. Together with other stakeholders, China and the United States must further discuss international rules, norms, and procedures for better management of debt risks while meeting the huge demands for global infrastructure investments.

China needs to respect US interests and traditional influence in the Asia-Pacific and carefully manage the security implications of its expanding economic footprints. The IPS should not become an instrument to encircle China, and both sides must jointly explore the right path towards their competitive co-existence and building up a regional order suited to diversification. Chinese scholars find that most regional countries are reluctant to pick sides in the event of a China—US standoff. Although keen to establish stronger trade and investment relations with major countries, they do not want to end up in a situation reminiscent of the Cold War.

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Such a move would also inspire potential Chinese and American cooperation in regional economic affairs. Last but not least, China and the United States should hold sustained exchanges on their visions for the international order and make joint efforts to address global governance challenges. In the view of Chinese scholars, China and the United States have the responsibility to establish an inclusive, open, and rules-based international order that guarantees the long-term and healthy development of US—China relations.

Both nations need to reaffirm their ever-growing common interests and respective responsibilities to safeguard global stability and prosperity. The United States should review its knee-jerk negative response to new international institutions like the China-initiated AIIB, while China must ensure such institutions do not become tools solely to serve its narrow national interests. Moreover, the United States and China should work together in areas where there is an absence of internationally accepted norms and rules.

In particular, cyber space and outer space are important domains that could potentially aggravate US—China competition. China and the United States should strive to develop a habit of cooperation and explore new ways to cope with other challenges, such as the weaponisation of Artificial Intelligence. Both countries need to promote new types of cooperation in international peace-keeping, counterterrorism, and public health, among other areas. As a growing number of American strategists and policy makers debate how to make and execute a competitive strategy towards China, rich scholarly discussions on US—China strategic competition have been taking place in China as long ago as the period after the global financial crisis of Most Chinese analysts acknowledge the inevitability of US—China strategic competition.