Commentary: The year China’s rise enters awkward adolescent phase


The year ahead will test China’s ability to navigate geopolitical flux. China must face up to concerns about its rise, says Tom McGregor.

BEIJING: 2018 has been a watershed year for China, coming on the back of the removal of term limits on the presidency, amid an increasingly confrontational relationship with the United States.

But the country has made strides in improving relations with countries in its immediate backyard, not least on the South China Sea front as a draft text that will serve as the basis for negotiations over the code of conduct has been finalised.


The year ahead will be a test of how it navigates geopolitical flux amid concerns about its rise.

2018 was a rough year for relations between US President Donald J Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump had at one time expressed concerns over losing his friendship with

Beyond efforts to restore the personal relationship, we can expect Washington and Beijing to try to find ways to get back bilateral relations back on track with a remarkable improvement in bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

We are also likely to witness a dramatic rebalancing of global trade with a major reduction in the US-China trade deficit as Beijing kicks into high gear to boost US imports in order to avoid the return of Tariff Man after the 90-day trade truce ends come February.

During negotiations, Chinese trade officials are expected to agree to end tech transfers, tighten subsidies to Chinese companies exporting overseas and encourage Chinese manufacturers to invest in opening new factories in the US.

China’s economy expanded at its slowest pace for nine years in the third quarter, fuelling

Chinese officials will do what they can do end the trade war, in order not to jeopardise the country’s growth, a vital ingredient for stability and order, which bolsters the party’s legitimacy.

While these steps may fulfill President Donald Trump’s chief intent of ending unfair practices that have skewed the US-China trade balance, they will, however, not satiate the appetite of neoconservative hawks in the administration.