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Is the U.S.-China Relationship in Free Fall?: Part I

A China in the World Podcast

The U.S.-China relationship is bad, and it’s getting worse. In part one of this two-part podcast, in September Paul Haenle sat down with Da Wei, assistant president of and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, to discuss Chinese perceptions of the Trump administration one month after the August 1 tariff announcements.

Da Wei says the Trump administration has focused China’s attention on the need to address underlying issues in the bilateral relationship, but that it has overstepped. President Trump’s use of tariffs has hardened Chinese views and limited Beijing’s ability to make concessions, even if they are in China’s self-interest, without appearing weak. Trump’s decision to impose new tariffs on China following the Osaka G20 meeting and Shanghai negotiations reinforced Chinese views that Trump is unreliable and may even change his mind even if a deal is struck. Da Wei argues Trump’s objectives are different from those of his advisors. Officials in the administration have a range of economic and security goals that are not necessarily aligned with Trump’s. However, Da Wei says that a majority of Chinese people now believe that the United States seeks to undermine China’s rise.