Decoupling: A Path of No Return Between China and the United States?
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Decoupling: A Path of No Return Between China and the United States?

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In this report, Prof. Zha Daojiong explores the complex phenomenon of decoupling between China and the United States through the lens of history, trade-dependence and technology. Both China and the United States could suffer losses in the short or long run, when decoupling moves from impetus to action. However, he points out that decoupling “does not have to proceed on a path toward a point of no return.” There is plenty of space to ameliorate or reverse this costly and worrisome trend, for which he makes several suggestions:

  • The two governments can pursue a bilateral investment treaty to provide a roadmap for their respective agencies of domestic governance to relate to each other.
  • China should pay attention to negative employment effects and counter-offer promises of greenfield investments in the United States by Chinese companies.
  • It is in the respective interests of China and the United States to specify national security guidelines for educators, scientists, and researchers while still encouraging exchanges among them.

About the Author

Zha Daojiong (査道炯) is a Professor of International Political Economy at the School of International Studies, Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development, Peking University. His areas of expertise include non-traditional security studies in contemporary Chinese foreign relations. His writings focus on the international politics of energy, food, public health and technology. He regularly participates in academic and policy exchanges between China and the United States, China and its neighbors in the East Asian region.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members or funders. APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts, and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts, and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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