Podcast: U.S.-China Rivalry Roils Asia

Daniel Russel on China 21

ASPI Vice President of International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel joined Steph Haggard, Director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the School of Global Policy & Strategy, for an episode of China 21, a podcast of the 21st Century China Center at UC San Diego. Russel sheds light on the U.S.-China trade war, broader U.S.-China relations, the U.S.-Japan alliance, North Korea nuclear negotiations, among other topics of the day. 

Russel begins by breaking down the trade war and its implications for the U.S.-China relationship. Russel asserts that China "is not a problem to be managed or corralled or squashed — it’s a country.” Russel argues that both sides need to look for common ground in order to tackle bilateral and transnational challenges. While "decoupling" has recently become a buzzword for characterizing the future of U.S.-China relations, Russel says “decoupl[ing] from the world’s largest trader, the world’s largest manufacturer, [would] inadvertently condition the Chinese to be unwilling to depend on the United States. And therefore, we are giving birth to the kind of full-on competitor that [the Trump administration] seems to be afraid of.” 

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan in late May, Russel describes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approach to dealing with President Trump as “do whatever it takes,” because “for Japan, maintaining a strong U.S.-Japan relationship is not negotiable.” However, Russel states that these efforts have not afforded Japan immunity from being labeled a “free-rider” or the ability to “stay the President’s hand when it comes to steel or aluminum tariffs, or… auto parts and automobile tariffs.” 

Russel also unpacks the Hanoi Summit and the North Korea challenge. He believes that pressing North Korea to eliminate its nuclear program is “an impossible, eternal mission,” because Kim believes that “denuclearization now means global zero.” 

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud.

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