China 2025: A Look at China Today and Where it is Heading

05/03/2018

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WITA

WITA hosted an expert panel to discuss the economic and political issues underlining the U.S.-China relationship, to provide context for current trade tensions, and priorities for reform in China.

For more information on the event and information on the speakers, visit the events page here

China 2025: A Look at China Today and Where it is Heading

By: Ayra Arshad

WITA Executive Director Kevin Levinson began by introducing the topic, followed by Senior Fellow and Director of China Policy at American Progress, Melanie Hunt’s introduction of the speakers as well as her observation as to how China, after decades of collaboration, decided to “renegotiate the agreement we thought we had when the United States brought China to the WTO.” When looking at the shifts that occurred within China, which may have brought this alarming new route, Christopher Johnson notes certain domestic changes such as going from a “collective leadership in the old system to the people’s leader.”

Economically, a change from the country’s status of economic development to technological innovation has also allowed for a shift in the relationship between China and the United States. Whereas before, our country’s relationship was complimentary, China has now grown increasingly economically competitive. What this competition has done is release the tension and suppressed differences that the United States had pushed down, such as our opposing forms of government systems,  in order to remain collaborative. Christopher Johnson goes on to explain how this is more of a “pathetic attempt to generate self-power” rather than an attempt to exploit the United States’ system. In terms of security, the Chinese military has also faced a drastic transition from being a domestically oriented protector of reforms to a fighter of wars.

Evan Feigenbaum raises a new point in speaking about reform and states how, when trying to walk in their shoes, we should ask why “political expediency always seems to trump economic necessity” in terms of reform. He answers by explaining how the Chinese government’s perception of what they inherited seems to be an increasingly stress and non-working system which in turn had immediate negative political implications. He adds how the priority of the economic agenda has swung into centering around a politically focused agenda in efforts to discipline, clear, and strengthen the communist party rather than reform the economy.

Paul Triolo gives his remarks on what the next phase of the Chinese trade agenda’s growth will look like after recognizing that the current model does not work well for them anymore. China’s technological innovation has provided a blueprint of a whole new range of plans out of which “three have generated concern in the west.” These plans include the National IC Fund set up in 2014, the Made in China 2025 plan, and the well known National AI Plan.