The United States and China Relationship

Tame the Beast; The New Harmony of Yi Yi Zhi Yi and Confucianism


           The United States and China long term tensions and disputes are no longer a secret to the world at large, and therefore, matters around these two robust countries will always become hot issues. On his campaign trail, The U.S President, Donald Trump has emphasized that the U.S may face a recession if the economic policy is not fixed. Following his inauguration President Trump also reiterated the importance of put the American people first on trade pertaining to his major campaign motto; “Make America Great Again” (House, 2017). Trump seems to put the blame on what he thinks China tricky strategy to exploit globalization in order to gain advantages over trade. Conversely, President Xi Jinping during his speech on World Economic Forum, January 2017 discussed the need to work hand in hand, fulfill responsibilities and overcome difficulties of mankind by set aside protectionism. Subsequently, he highlights protectionism as an act of locking oneself in a dark room that may prevent us from rain and wind. However, it also keeps us out from the light and air (Wei 2017). Albeit, there is no pure liberalism, and or protectionism that embraced by one country because on one side they need to encourage a free trade for ensuring enough economic resources or consumer goods to meet citizen needs. On the other hand, it is also a necessity for a government to uphold protectionism in order to safeguard their home industry, the real economic foundation. The inverted of the economic policy of the U.S and China from what they usually inherited cause a big question mark and challenge scholars expertise to foresee and anticipate it. The world today is impatiently waiting to see these two giant nations foreign policy and its effect on the life of many entities around the globe. This paper explores some external (history) and internal (social, economic) factors of foreign policy comparison to attain a holistic understanding about the most likely outcome and potential second and third order effects.

          History noted that the relationship between the United States and China underwent up and down since the establishment of Communist forces under Mao Zedong administration. At first, United States took stand by refuse to recognize the People Republic of China (PRC). Some small steps were taken by President Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter who tried to initiate bilateral relation but then impeded with Tiananmen human right issue which caused the United States and other government to impose an economic sanction against China. The tension abated after President Bill Clinton and his administration enacted a policy of engagement toward China. Clinton’s policy assumed that to drive China into global economy would moderate its internal behavior and increase conformation with international standard (Lebo 2014). The engagement policy was viewed as the most productive tools not only to restrain China but also to promote U.S economy by creating more opportunities and took advantage of China emerging market. To some extent Clinton was right, however, in 1995, the first two years of Clinton administration, Chinese export to the United States boomed leaving the U.S behind. China sold $46 billion in goods to the U.S but bought only $12 billion U.S. products. The U.S trade deficit with China even worsens during George W. Bush, Clinton successor when China was selling $244 billion in goods to the U.S. but buying only $42 billion U.S product (Chang 2014). The relationship between these two countries then compounded, lately, by the allegation of China currency manipulation. Whether a myths, propaganda or reality, nevertheless it would historically shape public opinion about China ways of making the trade.

        With respect to China national identity, even though Confucianism are no longer deeply espoused by the modern Han society, however, culturally to some extent its still prevail at the level of individual life. China Confucianism emphasizes on how to cultivate the social harmony for the greater good and aims to educate and emphasize for people to serve the state and society (Kissinger 2011). In modern China, Confucianism adheres to Chinese self-cultivation that reflect their cooperative effort, politeness, loyalty, work hard, win-win principle and endure any predicament while at the same time showing a great persistence makes Chinese usually succeed when doing their business individually. Unfortunately, in a larger scope the Chinese embrace the Barbarian Management Strategy; the so-called Yi Yi Zhi Yi, “use barbarian to fight barbarian,” which is the popular strategy employed by Han Dynasty when dealing with internal conflict (Ven 2000).


      In addition, Henry Kissinger on his book “On China” cited that “Through trade incentives and skillful use of political theater, China coaxed neighboring people into observing the norms of Chinese centrality while projecting image of awesome majesty to deter potential invader. Its goal not to conquer and subjugate barbarian but to rule them and when necessary using barbarians to attack barbarians” (Kissinger 2011). The unique relationship between these two different principles reflects what is China today. Struggling with huge population compel China to intertwine these two fundamental identities to become one single harmony. On the contrary, in the eye of the United States especially current administration, what has been done by China currently was nearly threaten the U.S government role domestically particularly in labor and at a certain level to be considered as malicious intent. Current evidence is the trade deficit. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $319 billion in 2016 (Commerce 2017). Although it is slightly better from 2015 which record of $367 billion. The trade deficit occurred because the U.S. imports from China is $483,2 while hitting only $116,07 on exports. The cause of trade deficit simply because China can produce goods that American business wants at the lowest cost. China’s could impose a competitive price because mainland China has a lower standard of living that grant companies seize the opportunity to pay lower wages for the employee. Consequently, American jobs are lost due to companies in mainland America failed to compete with China’s lower cost production. The reality contributes the United States current administration on how to perceive China and what foreign policies should be enforced to deal with this situation.


            A wise man said; “The only thing that never changes is the change itself” The problem now is how we recognize the changes and deal with it through a proper action. The emerging economic in China and several Asian countries have brought the rise of living standard toward declining of world extreme poverty from 35 to 10% today. Besides its positive result, however, the emerging economic will interrupt a comfort economic zone in most of the developed countries. I will argue that economically, a country with past economic triumph such as the United States will do some massive changes in their foreign economic policy to preserve their economic power, even though it will alter a system or principle that they were embraced for thousand years. The internal upheaval caused by this alteration will come to peace when people are facing with the data that urge them to do so and so does the government. For instance, the U.S. unemployment rate during the last decade was quite decreased to a lower level. After a significant rise in 2008 about 10% of unemployment and in 2015 going down up to 4.6%, in the middle of December 2016 climb again to 4.7% with jobless claim around 256 thousand people (Fedec 2017). Based on this reality, the current administration will change economic approach that used by the previous regime with more protection on U.S product as well as trying to open job market in mainland while imposing a tight labor policy to reduce the unemployment rate by making a priority for U.S. citizen. Diplomatically, the U.S will most likely increase economic cooperation with their most valuable allies, while at the same time dissipate their parasite comrade. The new blossom pattern of seminal relationship with old enemy-turned-friends, Russia, will change how the U.S treat China and shape new world order. Another potential military problem also may occur due to the shift of US-China policy. Having a reluctance of the United States for taking care its parasitic allies either economic or security, China will forge ahead toward its interest. For instance, the South China Sea disputes. I will argue that China government would be pushed by their public opinion far beyond their political will. By the sparks of social media today Chinese netizens have hit a record high of 731 million (53.2% of total populations). During the Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12th, 2016 in The Hague ruled in favor of the Republic of Philippines regarding its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. Most notably, it also stated that China’s nine-dash line in the South China Sea is not valid under international law. As a result, it is attracting more than 700.000 Chinese viewers in Sina-Weibo Website to put “unlike” sign to that news. Therefore, shortly we might witness more Chinese military development and coercive action to preserve the South China Sea in the name of sovereignty which delineated on an ancient nine-dash-line map.



I.               The U.S. Trade Deficit Graphic

II.             The U.S Unemployment Rate Graphic



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