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Avery Goldstein on US-China Relations

Goldstein Zoom

On October 14, Avery Goldstein, a prominent scholar of International Politics from University of Pennsylvania, spoke to a broad audience on the US-China relations through Zoom, moderated by Xian HUANG (Rutgers Political Science). In his talk, titled "The Present as Prologue: The Gloomy Outlook for US-China Relations," Goldstein reviewed the evolution of US-China relations in the past decades since 1991 and offered a sobering prediction of the direction of US-China relations in the foreseeable future. The video recording of the talk can be found on our video page.

Goldstein provided a thoughtful account of the shift in US-China relations from decades of of cooperation and openness (1991-2012) to a new era of rivalry and even antagonism. He considered and elaborated both structural and country-specific factors that have given rise to the shift: anarchy of the international system, distribution of international power (from unipolarity to bipolarity), geography of the US-China rivalry, and changes in Chinese and American domestic politics. Goldstein pointed out that the shift of US-China relations the world has witnessed since the Obama administration, though more abruptly under the Trump administration, was actually postponed by the September 11 Attacks in 2001 when the Bush administration had to refocus on the Middle East and sought China’s cooperation on anti-terrorism. However, structural changes brought about by the rise of China’s economic and military power as well as the economic interdependence between US and China renders the US-China rivalry inevitable. The currently tense state of the US-China relations is likely to be protracted and constitutes a substantial challenge to global governance. Despite the “gloomy” outlook for the US-China relations, Goldstein posited, drawn upon the Cold War history, that a war between these two global powers: US and China, is also unlikely.

After the talk, Goldstein answered a dozen questions from Rutgers undergraduate and graduate students on a wide variety of issues, such as the Taiwan issue, the role of regional powers and US allies in East Asia, American corporations’ attitudes towards China, and the influence of leadership changes in China and US.  

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