Trust Pattern, Interactive Process and Trust Loss in Sino-U.S. Relations (Published)
The 2008 global financial crisis witnessed the start of decline in the degree of mutual trust between China and the United States. Especially after the Trump administration took office, not only was their trust relationship further seriously damaged, their mutual strategic suspicions of each other have further expanded from security to economic, political, scientific, cultural, educational and other fields. This paper believes that the rapid loss of Sino-US mutual trust in recent years is not only the result of the continuous failure of both sides on realizing their expectations in the interest game, but also reflected the process of their gradual transition from limited benign interaction to vicious interaction. The root cause lies in the establishment of the Sino-US trust pattern dominated by rational-choice based trust and process-based trust. Due to the lack of sufficient affective trust, external institutional guarantee, and internal trust incentive and supervision mechanism, the Sino-US trust relationship become more fragile and contextual and less stable. Meanwhile, the direct cause should be attributed to the formation of mutual strategic hedging between China and the United States in Asia-Pacific after the financial crisis, as well as the transformation of their interaction process under this mechanism.
Keywords: Sino-US relations, inter-state trust, mutual strategic hedging, mutual trust loss, trust pattern
The Nature of Trump’s China Policy: An Evolution of the US “Hedging Strategy” towards China (Published)
The United States has been continuously exploring the best strategy to cope with a rising China. Based on the “con-gagement” strategy of the Bush administration, the Obama administration gradually formed a “hedging strategy” against China, featuring “strong coordination and strong confrontation”. Since Donald Trump became the U.S. President, he has made a series of further adjustments to the U.S. policy towards China. As this article argues, these adjustments essentially do not mean the abandonment of the “hedging strategy”, but a “critical” inheritance of it as well as a new attempt in the gradual adjustment and evolution of the U.S. strategy against China. However, with the further narrowing of the gap between the two countries and growing distrust of the U.S. towards China, the Trump administration’s China strategy has gradually shifted to a new type of “hedging strategy” featuring “weak coordination and strong confrontation”, which demonstrates a tendency of evolving to a confrontational strategy and hence may lead to more downward pressure on the Sino-US relations. In the short run, the Trump administration does not yet have the external conditions and internal motivation for a total rupture with China. Considering the internal and external conditions of the United States and the intertwined interests of the two sides, the Sino-US relations may still be characterized by competition, rather than conflict. In the long run, how the U.S. strategy against China shall evolve depends not only on the U.S. side, but also on China’s attitudes and approaches in response. Indeed, China will play a more important role in shaping the Sino-US relations than ever before.
Keywords: Obama, Sino-US relations, Trump, U.S. foreign policy, hedging strategy