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Zhu Chenghu: China and the United States Will Compete in Three Areas

Major General Zhu Chenghu, former deputy director of the Institute of Strategic Studies, National Defense University of China, wrote an article commenting on the competition between China and the U.S. In the article, he stated:

“The pattern of Sino-U.S. relations is based on a comparison of power between China and the U.S. The overall trend regarding Sino-U.S. power is the contrast between China’s rise and the United States’ relative decline. At present, this trend remains the same. Moreover, for a long time into the future, it will not change.

“We can see that Trump’s series of international claims, including the forthcoming North Korea-U.S. talks and the launch of a tough policy involving Taiwan, are all preparing for a second term. Therefore, during this period of time, Sino-U.S. relations are not very pessimistic. That is because Trump is a businessman who cares about interests the most. There are too many interests to be exchanged between China and the United States. However, seven years ago, the author expressed a not so optimistic view about Sino-U.S. relations. Now, from a long-term perspective, it is even less optimistic. The showdown between China and the United States is the general trend. Judging from this, the future competition between China and the United States may be concentrated in the following three main areas.

“First, the Taiwan issue will become very prominent. “For the settlement of the Taiwan issue, China has far more means than it had in the past and the current leaders’ determination is much stronger than it was in the past.

“Second, there are both apparent and insidious issues in the security field.“ In addition to considerations about Taiwan, the more important security issue is the Korean peninsula. In this regard, everyone can calm down and maintain one’s cool. This is an issue in which no one can get a result from talks. With regard to the highly regarded DPRK-U.S. summit meeting, the difficulties that the two sides actually have to overcome are unimaginable. The main goal of Trump’s gesture is still to prepare for the general election.

“The last issue is the South China Sea. At present, there is only so much that the United States military can show. We have yet to see further provocations. However, there is a hidden problem in the field of security that cannot be ignored: the arms race between China and the United States.

“The Chinese are often not willing to use the term but this is an objective reality. Since the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis began, an arms race has been going on between China and the United States. In this regard, China must choose its direction and focus on its key points. That is, China has enough means available so the United States will not dare to intervene in the conflict in the Taiwan Strait. There is no reason for China to compete with the United States to seek superiority. This is also impossible.

“Third, actions behind the scenes in the financial sector are the most worrisome problem.

“The most important thing for Sino-U.S. competition in the financial sector is the internationalization of the renminbi. What Americans worry about the most right now is not the trade issue.

“The internationalization of the renminbi is a fundamental challenge to the United States. Therefore, on this issue, China must make enough ideological preparations. Also, in the process of expanding China’s overseas interests, it needs to be adequately prepared. This is a challenge involving geo-strategic patterns and will exist for a long time.”

Source:, April 12, 2018