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V24: To decouple, or not to decouple?

December , 2019


From the Thucydides trap to the potential for a new Cold War, from strategic rivalry and competitive co-existence to decoupling, scholars and practitioners of international affairs are struggling to understand and describe the current state of the China-U.S. contest. And they are exploring what the future holds for this highly consequential great-power relationship.

In this issue, our commentators from both countries focus on tackling an important question: Does decoupling make sense? They also attempt to figure out how each country might best respond to the new realities.

To provide a global and Chinese context, we also include in this issue an interview with a veteran Chinese diplomat, Ambassador He Yafei.

Some commentators claim that the decoupling process is already underway — in the national security arena, for example. In the commercial field, some degree of decoupling may even be desirable ...

  • This is the best period in the recent history of China. And it’s also the worst because China is facing more dangers and more risks in the world.

    He Yafei

  • If decoupling refers to a strategic orientation, meaning that the breadth and depth of Sino-U.S. exchanges are limited or even reversed, then decoupling not only exists but has been there for some time.

    Da Wei

  • Many dimensions of U.S.-China relations cannot and should not be decoupled, as they would be mutually damaging.

    David Shambaugh

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