Stories by Daniel Kliman

Expert Voices

U.S. talks trade with China amid broader strategic disengagement

Treasury Secrtary Steven Mnuchin
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s senior economic team just wrapped up talks in Beijing to address rising U.S.–China tensions. These talks appear to have amounted largely to an exchange of views, with China, unsurprisingly, evincing little willingness to immediately address the bilateral trade deficit with the United States or curb its mercantilist economic approach.

The bottom line: The inconclusive results should not obscure a new direction in U.S. relations with China: disengagement.

Expert Voices

With Trump economic crackdown, a new era in U.S.–China relations

China's President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump shaking hands
President Xi Jinping and President Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in November 2017. Photo: Artyom Ivanov / TASS via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced today a plan to levy investment restrictions and roughly $60 billion worth of tariffs on China in response to its widespread violation of U.S. intellectual property rights. The message to Beijing is clear: Washington will no longer overlook China’s systematic efforts to acquire American technology.

Why it matters: These economic policies mark the dawn of a new era in U.S.–China relations. Though once a source of stability between the world's two most powerful nations, commerce and investment will from now on be a flashpoint.

Expert Voices

Trump's NSS takes a harder line on China

Chinese President Xi Jinping with U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Nov. 9, 2017. Photo: Xinhua / Lan Hongguang via Getty Images

If translated into sustained action, the Trump administration's National Security Strategy will mark a departure from decades of U.S. policy, reframing China as a great power competitor that challenges American military, diplomatic and economic interests.

Every president since Nixon has presupposed that American engagement would transform China before it could upend the global order. Trump's NSS jettisons this assumption, rightly recognizing that China has gamed international institutions, failed to liberalize its political system, pursued a mercantilist economic policy and undertaken a military build-up directly aimed at undermining U.S. military advantage.

To succeed, a more competitive U.S. strategy must upgrade American military capabilities, deepen relations with Asia-Pacific allies and partners, advance a positive regional economic agenda, push back against China's unfair trade and investment practices, and defend core values of democracy and human rights.

What's next: The NSS pays lip service to these elements, but leveraging them all may prove challenging given Trump's focus on military strength. To get tough on Beijing, the administration will have to take economic actions that threaten the larger bilateral relationship. Watch out for moves to punish China for its theft of U.S. intellectual property.

Daniel Kliman is a senior fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.