A Year of US-China Discord?
NEW YORK – In 2009, Forbes magazine named US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao the “world’s most powerful people.” In 2010, we will discover that neither has the power to keep US-Chinese relations on track. That is bad news for those who believe that US-China cooperation is essential for reviving the global economy, meeting the challenge of climate change, containing threats of nuclear proliferation, and managing a host of other problems without borders. It is also bad news for America and China.
Ten is the number to watch: America's 10% unemployment and China’s potential 10% GDP growth are set to collide like weather fronts generating a storm. American populism will meet Chinese pride. And the fevered political climate created by US mid-term elections means that the world’s most important bilateral relationship is headed for real turbulence this year.
America and China now live with a kind of mutually assured economic destruction, and both presidents know it. The US needs China to finance its mounting debt, and China needs Americans to buy its products.