27 July 2020
De-risking the US-China conflict – is this the new Cold War?
In this, the latest episode of our series ‘What next for China and the West?’ Professor Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute, chats to Dr Alan Dupont, Research Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation
In this, the latest episode of our series ‘What next for China and the West?’ Professor Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute, chats to Dr Alan Dupont, Research Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation about China’s increasingly hostile relationships with the west and other countries in the newly coined ‘Indo Pacific’ region.
Should China’s continued economic and military rise worry the West? Is our anxiety well-placed? Does the UK have anything to learn from Australia’s relationship with China?
Dupont offers his opinions on these questions and expands on the findings of his new paper New Cold War: De-risking US-China conflict. He compares the current nature of US-China relations to the Cold War, during which the relationship between two great powers threatened to draw the rest of the world in.
“You have a growing rivalry between the two largest powers in the international system – the United States and China – this is not an ordinary great power conflict… it’s basically one between two quite different political systems and you get a lot of mutual misunderstanding when that happens.”
Yet Dupont also points out that China and the US are economically co-dependent, which means that decoupling is easier said than done. Despite their ideological differences the tensions between the two countries are unlikely to lead to a full divorce.
Instead, “it is likely that countries will coalesce on either the Chinese or the US side on certain issues, and the question is on what issues and to what extent this will occur?” Drawing on the relationship between his native Australia and China, Dupont suggests that countries will want to maintain good trading relationships with China, but not at all costs.