Shared future or stone age mindset?
Washington's extreme right provocateurs have found a hotbed in trade frictions with China as they seek to stall the developing nation.
Ex-White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post, claiming the United States and China are in an economic trade war with no room to compromise.
In his usual inflammatory tone, Bannon labelled China as the greatest economic and national security threat the United States has ever faced, echoing earlier beliefs that the Asian country is trying to weaken and ultimately defeat the United States, as if the two were in a duel.
The Washington Post faced backlash from readers after publishing the piece, with many questioning why it gave the far-right campaigner a platform.
Such zero-sum rhetoric is alarming and has found its way into the White House from punitive tariffs on Chinese goods to measures restricting China's telecom company Huawei from doing business in the United States.
Bannon and other like-minded far-right nationalists in Washington believe that a rising China means a weaker United States. What they fail to realize is that competition is key to the enduring relationship and remains beneficial to both sides.
Competition cannot be avoided. Both the United States and China should opt for competition in certain fields, which will inevitably lead to cooperation, according to Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore.
If history is any guide, a trade war does not serve the interests of any party since it won't produce a winner. A study published by US economists shows the additional tariffs cost US consumers and importers US$4.4 billion every month last year.
Trade wars harm not only the United States and China but also the world at large at a time when countries have become ever more intertwined, or in China's words, a community of shared future for humankind, Zheng said.
Irrational statements have often been made about China-US relations over the last four decades. In the end, rationality triumphed.
It is undeniable that the relationship between China and the United States is complex in nature. But as history has shown, the world's two largest economies stand to gain from cooperation.
Envisioning a complex relationship between the United States and China featuring engagement, competition, rivalry and cooperation, veteran US diplomat Charles W. Freeman Jr. said both countries should display the necessary maturity to deal with such complexity. Only then can the relationship flourish.