One week after Vice President Pence’s Hudson Institute speech, Paul Haenle spoke with professor Da Wei, assistant president and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, to understand China’s reaction to the speech and discuss what steps the U.S. and China might take to address the current tensions over trade and economic practices.

Haenle noted that official Chinese narratives about the U.S.-China trade war have not included Chinese reflection or discussion of what role China’s own policies have played in creating trade tensions. Haenle argued that many of the concerns on structural issues, such as market access, intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer, and China’s industrial policies, are of common concern for the international community. Casting these concerns only in the U.S.-China bilateral context leads to narratives in China that accuse the U.S. of seeking to contain China’s rise. Da Wei stressed that as China celebrates its 40th anniversary of reform and opening up, Chinese policymakers and academics are beginning to reflect on the need for further economic reforms. However, vested interests among various Chinese stakeholders make implementing these reforms increasingly complicated. Da Wei agreed with Haenle on the need for China to acknowledge the concerns of the international community, pointing toward the meeting between presidents Trump and Xi at the G20 as an opportunity to do so. At the same time, Da Wei suggested that Trump could use the meeting to reassure Xi the U.S. is not seeking to contain China or block its continued development.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Director's Chair at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy based at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and U.S.-China relations.

Da Wei

Da Wei is assistant president of and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing. He also serves as the director of the University’s Center for International Strategy and Security Studies. Previously he was the director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).