‘Decoupling on Chinese terms’

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‘Decoupling on Chinese terms’

The author is the director of the China Institute of the JoongAng Ilbo.
A claim that China, not the United States, started decoupling of the U.S.-China economy is drawing attention. In a seminar hosted by the Hudson Institute earlier this month, senior fellow John Lee claimed that “decoupling on Chinese terms” started decades ago. The U.S. began decoupling with China in certain high-tech industries during the Trump administration, acknowledging the harm that China poses on the global economy.
John Lee analyzed that China spits out complains as if it is the victim, but it was actually China that started disconnecting with the U.S. economy, and the history is longer. According to Lee, China did not establish a strategic partnership with the U.S. or pursue integration with the global economy since it started opening and reform policies in 1979. China only wanted to obtain what it needs to build up strength to overtake the West from the U.S. and the global economy.
According to Lee, China’s goal in the Xi Jinping era is to establish a China-centered economic order in Eurasia and the Western Pacific, then oust the U.S. or minimize America’s intervention in important areas. For this, China promotes its Belt and Road initiative, Made in China 2025, and the dual circulation policy. China wants to dominate the manufacturing process and supply chain in the region and exclude the U.S. This is what Lee calls “decoupling on Chinese terms.”
Decoupling on Chinese terms means the United States becomes isolated in Eurasia and the Western Pacific and ultimately loses its global power. Then, the reasoning for Xi choosing Kazakhstan as his first overseas trip after the Covid-19 pandemic and holding talks with 12 leaders of Eurasian countries at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan makes sense.
Kazakhstan is the place where President Xi announced the “overland silk road” initiative in September 2013. After the 20th Party Congress in October, where his third term would be finalized, Xi will attend the G20 summit in Indonesia, and the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand in November. Indonesia is where Xi announced his plan for “the maritime silk road” in October 2013. Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the declaration of the Belt and Road strategy.
The U.S. is pursuing decoupling with China in some industries, and China is attempting decoupling to expel the U.S. from Eurasia and the Western Pacific. Stuck between the two, Korea has to stay alert. Holding a cookie in each hand, there is a risk of losing both, let alone eating both. If there is an easy solution, we would already have it. As challenging as it is, we desperately need wisdom to watch the development and respond accordingly.
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