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Is the Era of `Chimerica` Looming?

Posted January. 06, 2009 06:21,   


Three decades have passed since the United States and China established diplomatic ties. Since then, their bilateral relations have grown interdependent and supplementary.

U.S. experts coined the term “Chimerica” and some even argue that a new “G2 era” comprising the United States and China has arrived. On the other hand, China is cautious of such a term because of fears of another wave of anti-China sentiment.

The two countries have faced tough issues, including discord over Taiwan. This can be understood as a conflict related to long-term strategies while the trade imbalance can be described as an obstacle using short-term tactics.

Bilateral relations between the United States and China have grown much closer. Two-way trade skyrocketed 343 times from 1.18 billion dollars in 1978 (a few months before the two sides set up diplomatic ties) to 405.36 billion dollars in 2007.

In 2007, 1.9 million Chinese visited the U.S. while 710,000 Americans visited China. In short, an average of 7,000 Chinese and Americans visited each other’s nation every day.

Another 80,000 Chinese study in America and 12,000 Americans in China.

China’s economy has shown a stellar performance. Its GDP went from a mere seven percent of U.S. GDP in 1990 to 24.7 percent in 2007.

The World Bank said the U.S. economy grew 1.4 percent last year while that of China jumped 9.4 percent, so China’s GDP equaled more than 25 percent of America’s.

China, however, is sensitive to the notion of Chimerica, despite experts saying China has become the most significant U.S. partner. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama plans to first visit China after taking office.

In China, however, a negative response has met such developments. Peng Yuan, director of the Institute of American Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said, “The new terms of ‘Chimerica’ and ‘G2’ reflect U.S. recognition of China as a strong economy, but the two economies still have wide gap.”

“China still has around 80 million disabled people and 24 million looking for work every year. Moreover, around 10 million Chinese remain desperately poor. The U.S. is a strong power and China is still a weak state.”

On Taiwan, Washington and Beijing have fundamentally different views. China is sticking to its “one China” policy, but experts say the United States will lose a significant chip to keep China in check if the mainland and Taiwan reunify.

China’s trade surplus with the United States over the past two decades is another wild card. The figure rose to 274.9 billion dollars in 2007.

Jin Canrong, international studies professor at Renmin University of China, said, “U.S.-China relations have arrived at a new starting point that will usher in a new era of cooperation. But the two nations should rationally consider obstacles, including Taiwan, that block bilateral friendly relations.”