China’s sheer size and population make it a heavyweight, and a clear strategic rival to the United States. It is the world’s most populous country and among its largest.Its influence has boomed – along with its economy – in recent years, as the US and Europe nursed the wounds from devastating financial crises.This has concerned several countries, particularly the US, which is keen to retain its dominant position in the world.
US President Donald Trump’s administration launched a trade war with China this year, hitting about half of Chinese imports to the US with tariffs.It says the tariffs are a response to China’s “unfair” trade practices and alleged intellectual property theft.
They are part of a protectionist policy which has seen the Trump administration pull out of and renegotiate multilateral trade deals and challenge the global free trade system.Many in Beijing suspect that the US wants to block China’s rise – which is seen as a challenge to the US’s own established hegemony.
“The Chinese think the US wants to contain them and certainly a lot of people here do. A lot of people in the US think the Chinese want to take over the world,” said C. Fred Bergsten, founding director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
“All current Americans grew up in a world where the US is dominant… when somebody seriously challenges that, as the Chinese are, it’s viewed as a pretty fundamental threat and risk.”