A new era in the US-China relations

On the 7th of March, 2017 our Association organised a panel discussion entitled “A new era in the US-China relations”. Our invited guests were Ágnes Szunomár China expert from MTA as well as Péter Marton US and Tamás Matura China expert both from the Corvinus University of Budapest. The changes in the relationship between the two powers and possibilities of their influence on global politics were on the agenda during the event with the help of our experts.

Today’s most important bilateral tie is characterised by great uncertainty since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. While for the Asian side, the priority is the long-term stability, the new President’s personality and his actions reflect unpredictability. Thanks to the system of checks and balances, which lead to dysfunctional decision-making, the conflict will not broaden on the American side. Experts believe the outbreak of a potential conflict would be limited on the economic level instead of a war, however, it would basically rock today’s world politics, as the rivalry between the two superpowers would be destructive to the whole world. Nevertheless, the US would be an absolute loser if a possible trade war would break out. The Americans also show unpredictability as they withdrew from several multilateral agreements like NAFTA or TPP, which would have missed out Beijing from a free trade zone. A number of Asian countries have also started to stand away from them. China is still handling the situation very wisely and waiting patiently, which is also due to the fact that it is an election year in China.

In the field of diplomatic relations, one of Donald Trump’s first steps was to answer the call from the Taiwanese leader which openly questioned China’s number one foreign conception, the One-China policy. In another case, Australia’s leader wasn’t able to call the POTUS officially. Thus, the initial period of the Presidency can rightly be referred to as the era of “strange phone calls” as well. Experts said answering the Taiwanese phone call is not clearly directed against China, but rather was part of Trump’s unconventional campaign. It is clear that the Taiwanese question could lead to a conflict sooner than the economic competition.

In conclusion, even it has been mentioned that under logic of prevention, if a military conflict would take place, then the USA has to take measures now while they have superiority, because technological development will have a decisive role in the future. Although this scenario seems unlikely, statements from the White House are worrying. Our experts unanimously agreed that China does not want to take over the USA’s position, but if the Americans do not provide political stability to the world, they may force China into this situation.