The Global China initiative at Brookings has released a new set of papers focused on how China is navigating relations with other major powers and what it means for the U.S. and the international order. In this edition of Charts of the Week, a sample of some of the data and analysis from a few of those papers. Visit Global China to learn more and download papers on a range of themes focused on China’s growing role in the world.
INDIA’S TRADE IMBALANCE WITH CHINA ADDS TO FRICTION
In her paper, Tanvi Madan explores India’s ties with China, including cooperation, competition, and possibly conflict. “There had been some hope that growing economic ties [between India and China] would alleviate some of these strategic differences,” Madan writes, “[b]ut economic links have indeed added to the friction.” In fact, Madan notes, India’s trade deficit with China is about a third of India’s total trade imbalance, as seen in the chart below.
CHINA IS MASSIVELY INCREASING MILITARY SPENDING
Ryan Hass writes that the trajectory of deepening ties between the United States and China “has been broken” in recent years. In the security realm, Hass argues that both sides have become dissatisfied with the security status quo in the Asia-Pacific region. One expression of this, he notes, is that China is “investing massive sums in military modernization and is deploying its growing capabilities in ways that suggest it seeks to push out its defense perimeter to the first island chain–a group of islands extending from Japan through Taiwan and the Philippines.”
CHINA’S REGIONAL INVESTMENT FLOWS LAG BEHIND JAPAN’S, AND AMERICA’S
Mireya Solís observes that some believe that China has eclipsed Japan in terms of Asian primacy, but argues that “a focus on economic statecraft renders this conclusion premature.” The chart below shows one example that belies the conventional wisdom about China’s predominance: While Beijing’s trade with ASEAN nations is larger than both Japan’s and the United States’, China’s investments (FDI, foreign direct investment outflows) is far less than both Japan’s and America’s. “China’s flagship initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative,” Solís writes, “has captured the world’s imagination with its promise to channel a trillion dollars towards the construction of economic corridors on land and at sea across Eurasia … however, China has learned that the road to becoming a titan of development finance is full of opportunity and risk.”
What is a strategy of denial and does it make sense for America?
The crux of [America's China] strategy is to advance interests, uphold values, and strengthen cohesion with allies and partners. One hopes that the Biden administration will be able to move discussion from questions of toughness to measures of effectiveness in delivering tangible results.