Analysis: China’s Congress and relations with the US – Editor’s Picks – News – NHK WORLD

The Chinese National People’s Congress is set to get underway on Tuesday. The annual event gives a glimpse of what to expect from the world’s second-largest economy in the year to come. Part of this year’s focus will no doubt be on US-China relations. For some insight, we spoke to Doctor Wu Junhua, Research Director of the Japan Research Institute.

Q)

When it comes to trade negotiations and Beijing’s policy towards the US, what can we expect to hear from the National People’s Congress?

Wu)

China will probably reiterate what it has said so far. For example, emphasizing that working together will be a win-win and breaking up will result in a lose-lose outcome. As we all know, the trade war is the focus here, and which direction it goes in depends largely on the communication between the top leaders of the two countries.

However, Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi won’t meet until the end of the National People’s Congress in China, thus it is less likely to have anything new about the China-US relationship.

Q)

Washington is said to be working on the final points of a trade deal. What are some of the sticking points that still need to be hammered out?

Wu)

There are three main points: purchases, commitment and enforcement. Purchases mean that China will increase its import from the United States, especially in terms of volume, products and time. Commitments mean that China has to make promises to address US concerns, such as protecting intellectual property and expanding foreign companies’ access to China.

The first two points are about to be settled after the talks that have taken place. The third point, enforcement, will be a tough one. How should the fidelity of China’s promises be evaluated? What indicators should be used in the measurement? How frequently should data be collected? How should the reliability of the data and the validity of the interpretation be decided? And what consequences or mechanism can the US exercise if China breaks its promises?

Q)

The two countries have been embroiled in a range of disputes over trade, Huawei’s security and the South China Sea. There’s also the role each is playing in the push for North Korea’s denuclearization. How do you see their relations developing?

Wu)

Not very promising, I’m afraid. In 2015, I created a concept of “cold peace” to describe the China-US relationship. It is kind of a love and hate relationship. However, it has been going south sharply in the past two years, and I don’t expect it will go back north in the near future.

If the 20th century was the era of competition between the US-led capitalist countries and the Soviet Union-led socialist countries, then the 21st century might be a time when US-style market capitalism competes with Chinese-style socialism.

Many people said that it is state socialism, but I don’t think this is accurate. Someone else used the term mercantilist Leninism. That is better, but it would be more appropriate to call it mercantilist Maoism. This is because even though both China and the Soviet Union claim that they believe in communism, the Russian Orthodox Church was the cultural and religious background of the main part of the Soviet Union, which means that even during the era of the Soviet Union, there was a cultural and religious attachment between the Russian society and the West.

However, China has its own totally different cultural background. Mao once said that he was a combination of Marx and Qin Shi Huang, the emperor who first united China and created a centralized despotic regime more than 2,000 years ago. If that is the case, then Maoism would be a combination of Marxism and a Chinese despotic regime. This mix of a superiority of strengths has never happened, and it’s hard to tell who will emerge as a winner.

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