With US President Joe Biden assuming Office, world is laser focused on China-US Relations.
However, irrespective of experts opinions, the fact that the world, especially the US, needs to work with China to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is borne out by the following figures:
$316.9 Billion & $1.2 Trillion
Former US President Donald Trump launched a trade war against China in the hope that it would reduce the US trade deficit with China and prompt US companies operating in China to “reshore” to the US. Yet China’s trade surplus last year increased 7.1 percent to $316.9 billion.
Also, US investors held $1.2 trillion in Chinese equity and debt securities last year, five times higher than the level indicated by the US Treasury Department’s official data despite the Sino-US trade war reducing the GDPs of China and the US by 0.3 percent and 0.08 percent, respectively. This shows that both countries will suffer if the trade war continues, so the Biden administration should make finding a way out of the situation a high priority.
$9.03 & $1.9 Trillion
Of course, the Biden administration needs to first control the pandemic, revitalize the US economy and increase the incomes of US citizens. Forty years ago, the average hourly income of the US middle class was $9.17.
Today, it is $9.03.The middle class accounts for about half of the US population, and it often determines the outcome of elections. Therefore, despite facing a $27.76 trillion debt, the Biden administration still announced a stimulus package of $1.9 trillion to help US citizens and residents overcome their problems.
However, the Biden administration has said it will approach its China policy with “strategic patience” instead of ending the trade war, which seems to indicate it could continue Trump’s policy of restricting science and technology cooperation and sanctioning Chinese individuals and enterprises.
Last year, Biden published an article titled “Why America Must Lead Again: Rescuing US Foreign Policy After Trump”, in which he said a rejuvenated US must lead the world and not just the West, reflecting its hegemonic tendency.
-8.3 Percent GDP & 128,000 Scheduled Trains
Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world cannot wait for the US to recover and provide leadership. By wrapping up negotiations on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the European Union countries, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN member states have shown they are not willing to wait for global leadership.
For example, the latest forecast said the EU’s GDP last year will likely have contracted by 8.3 percent, and normalcy is unlikely to return before the end of next year. So the EU intends to revitalize its economy by partnering with China at the cost of going against the Biden administration’s policy.
The Countries that are part of the Belt & Road Initiative also cannot afford to wait. The pandemic forced many countries to suspend travel and cross-border transportation. But despite that, about 12,400 trains departed from Chinese cities to European cities last year, establishing a new sea-land transportation network in Europe, Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia.
As such, the China-Europe Railway Express has given China a significant advantage over the US in terms of strengthening cooperation with countries involved in the BRI.
10 Trillion Yuan & 28 Individuals
Not only was China the only major economy to achieve positive GDP growth last year, but its total economic volume also exceeded 100 trillion yuan ($15.46 trillion). With China considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, it appears that the country will now focus on the wider world, instead of just the US, for further development.
Also, China is taking more proactive measures, as evident from the fact that it has imposed sanctions on 28 US officials, including former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, in response to Washington sanctioning various Chinese officials, including some officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China’s move should prompt US officials to understand the consequences of imposing unnecessary sanctions on Chinese officials and enterprises, and send a clear signal to officials in Britain, Australia, Canada and other countries not to compulsively follow the US’ example.
20 Billion Yuan & $163 Billion
China and the US still have ample room for cooperation in areas such as climate change, epidemic prevention, public health and nuclear nonproliferation. Another area of cooperation is culture, especially films.
Last year, China’s box office collection of 200 billion yuan surpassed that of the US, making China the world’s largest and fastest-growing film market. If US and Chinese enterprises work together to tap into the full potential of China’s huge film market and attract more investments, they can reap rich dividends.
The latest data from the United Nations shows that China’s inward foreign direct investment increased by 4 percent to a record high of $163 billion last year. It was the first time China surpassed the US in terms of FDI. If the Biden administration abandons the Trump administration’s economic decoupling agenda and allows US companies to invest in China, US companies can share a large part of China’s development dividends.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and the only major economy to achieve positive growth last year, when COVID-19 dealt a huge blow to the global economy. It means that China has learned how to deal with emergencies. It also means that China can help other countries avoid economic problems and maintain global industrial and supply chains.
As for other countries around the world, they should join hands to collectively contain the pandemic and create an environment conducive to boosting the global economy.