Trade tensions with Washington are prompting Beijing to ease its dependence on the United States, especially in technology.
Will China emerge weakened or strengthened from the trade war against it in the United States? The question divides, including in Beijing. In the short term, the answer is obvious. Quarter after quarter, the economy has been slowing and exports have been falling for the past four months.
However, with official growth remaining at 6%, urban unemployment at around 5% and foreign trade with a large surplus, China is far from down. Besides, since the start of trade tensions, Pekin has not made any major concessions to Washington. Logically, China started by looking for other trading partners. With limited success.
“Chinese exports to the European Union or the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are more dynamic, but that does not completely compensate for the shortfall against the United States. What makes adjustment difficult for China is that the trade war is taking place in a sluggish context both in China itself and on international markets “, underlines Sébastien Jean, director of the Center for Prospective Studies and Information international (Cepii). The country has just experienced another failure. Neither India nor, it seems, Japan wants to join the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership promoted by Beijing to boost trade in Asia.
Two schools oppose
Beyond trade, experts are divided on the consequences of the decoupling of economies. A notion that appeared in the spring in some American think tanks and that was taken up by part of Donald Trump’s entourage. Two schools oppose each other, notes Li Wei, a professor at the Peoples University, in Beijing, in an article published by The Chinese Journal of International Politics (December 2019).