Insight Talk: The US and China Should Seek Common Ground

China and the US need to aggressively seek out opportunities where their national interests overlap to work together and step back from the abyss.

Editor’s Note: As the Biden administration came into office, how will the US-China relations develop in the near future? In the Insight Talk, Harvey Dzodin gives his opinions on a series of topics. Dr. Dzodinis a Senior Fellow of the Center for China and Globalization and a former political appointee in the Carter Administration of the United States. The video reflects the interviewee’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.

China Focus: What was the most significant influence of the Trump presidency on the United States’ domestic and foreign affairs?

Harvey Dzodin: Trump nearly destroyed America and he has a loyal band of aggrieved followers, either men of low education or people who should know better, who are drunk on money or power or both, who will continue to do his bidding. thanks to Trump, it’s unlikely that the US will fully recover as Trump’s damage is so deep.

Domestically, he set back the environment, race relations, education and whatever you can think of in a way that will take years to overcome. and in international relations, he trashed China, Europe, NATO in a way that suggested that he didn’t know what he was doing or why he was doing it.

China Focus: Can Joseph Biden change the legacy left behind by the Trump administration?

Harvey Dzodin: Joe Biden can certainly try and he may be able to undo some of the damage. but because the damage is so great and because the congress is so evenly divided, mirroring the country at large, it’s unlikely that the important agenda items can be enacted, certainly in this time of emergency.

One magnificent thing Biden will be able to do is to subdue the coronavirus. sadly, if Trump had acted as China had, the situation would be more like China today. we would not have had more than 26 million cases and a half million deaths. the Biden people were in fact shocked that Trump had no plan at all, other than to lie in hopes of getting re-elected.

The other related matter is that the US economy is in a coma. thousands of businesses close permanently every month, people lose jobs in record numbers and there needs to be a Keynesian refloat of the economy. but the sad fact is that the Republicans who were willing to spend vast sums of money to enrich the 1 percent for Trump, now are pinching pennies when it comes to helping the 99 percent who are the middle and working classes.

China Focus: What kind of Sino-US policy might Biden adopt? How will Sino-US relations develop?

Harvey Dzodin: New secretary of state Antony Blinken said at his Senate confirmation hearing that Trump was right in taking a harder line against China, although he disagreed with Trump’s way of doing it. He also said that China poses the most significant challenge of any nation to the US in terms of US interests. He did allow, however, that there are rising adversarial aspects of the relationship; competitive ones, and some cooperative ones, when it is in our mutual interest, while he took a hard line against China, he saw room for Sino-US cooperation, most likely in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, fighting climate change and in improving global economic mechanisms that are more than seven decades old and in need of a makeover.

China and the US need to aggressively seek out opportunities where their national interests overlap to work together and step back from the abyss. why? because countries that don’t learn from the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them.
China Focus: How will Sino-US relations develop?

Harvey Dzodin: Before Trump poisoned the water in the well, president Xi proposed to president Obama a new model of great power relations. Trump killed it but before he did, Xi and Obama gave it a try and it worked. the two of them provided the leadership to get the difficult Paris climate agreement negotiated and signed. Trump pulled out, but one of Biden’s first acts was going back in.

It’s very clear that the multilateral institutions built upon the ashes of WWII like the world bank, the IMF, WTO are in need of a makeover to suit 21st-century conditions and changes. New China never had a seat at the negotiating table and at the time was a poor and backward country. Times have certainly changed and necessitate a re-examination.

China Focus: What do you think about China’s concept of building a shared future for mankind?

Harvey Dzodin: For me, president Xi Jinping’s virtual speech to Davos 2021 vividly recalls memories of his keynote four years ago, the first for a Chinese president at Davos. The world has changed so profoundly since then, but one thing that remains as rock-solid as the great wall, is China’s steadfast vision of a cooperative global endeavor to build a community of shared future for mankind. a future working together with an emphasis on win-win collaboration through the G20 and other multinational institutions. we also need to heed President Xi’s condemnation of the Cold War 2.0 “winner takes all mentality” that exists in some quarters because going down that dark, dark road would likely lead us to the ultimate dead end.