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Cultural Decoupling from China Will Hurt the US

The US government's strategy of cutting cultural, educational, and journalistic ties with China is unwise and counterproductive. Such an approach not only plays into the Chinese government's hands, but also harms vital US interests.

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – “Decoupling” is central to the geopolitical duel between the United States and China. Conceived and promoted by hawks in US President Donald Trump’s administration, this strategy has now become America’s principal tool to weaken Chinese power.

The first act of decoupling – the Sino-American trade war that began in 2018 – has substantially reduced bilateral trade. A similar process is now in full swing in the technology sector, with the US pursuing an unrelenting campaign against Chinese tech giants such as Huawei and ByteDance (the owner of the popular video app TikTok). With the Trump administration threatening to have Chinese firms delisted from US stock exchanges if they fail to give US auditors access to their audit records in China, financial decoupling has begun as well.

Although it remains to be seen whether economic decoupling will succeed in containing China, the strategic logic at least sounds compelling. Because China benefits from its economic ties with the US, severing them will inevitably weaken Chinese growth.