The great decoupling? The future of relations between China and the West

Season 3, Episode 5

What will be the new 'normal' for the global economy after the global pandemic ends? While the world has been battling the health, social, and economic consequences of Covid-19, one of the foundational planks of the global economy—China’s relationship with the West—has continued to shift. Over the course of four years, the Trump Administration portrayed China as an economic and national security threat to the United States, dramatically increased tariffs on Chinese goods, and blocked targeted Chinese firms from using American components and technologies. Severe pressure was placed on American allies to do the same. Global technology companies have been stuck in the crossfire:  Chinese firms faced difficulties accessing markets and sourcing key components, American firms were not able to sell to some of their most important customers, and European firms faced great uncertainty over how volatile markets would evolve. The once unthinkable prospect of unwinding tightly integrated global value chains and 'decoupling' the economies of the United States and China has become a possibility that cannot be ignored.

The panellists aimed to understand why Western policy towards China and China’s policy toward the West have shifted so dramatically in recent years and discuss how it may evolve in the future.

The four panellists were:

  • Rebecca Arcesati, an Analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), Berlin
  • Professor Xudong Gao, School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University, Beijing
  • Stephan Scheuer, former China correspondent and current Technology Team Lead at Handelsblatt, Düsseldorf
  • Dr. Adam Segal, the Ira A. Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York

The event was moderated by Eric Thun and Marc Szepan and the podcast is hosted by Dean Peter Tufano.