The joint opening ceremony of the eighth round of U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogues and the seventh round of U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange is held in Beijing, capital of China, June 6, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
The joint opening ceremony of the eighth round of U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogues and the seventh round of U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange is held in Beijing, capital of China, June 6, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

It’s in the interest of the United States and China to work closely, as demonstrated by the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement and the current fight against COVID-19, a scholar told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The phase-one trade deal was “not a holistic solution,” however, it has shown that both sides were willing to hit the brakes on the trade dispute, said Koh King Kee, president of Malaysia’s Center for New Inclusive Asia and an associate fellow at the Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya.

“Both sides need it. I mean, the tariffs are hurting the U.S. economy, the farmers and the consumers … The so-called backlash is being felt,” he said.

Koh said the agreement is “no loss to China.” On one hand, China needs to purchase goods from abroad for its domestic market, either from the United States or elsewhere around the world. On the other, some issues outlined in the agreement are actually in line with China’s own reform agenda.

“For example, there are issues on intellectual property … Patent rights are registered (in China) more than any other country. So it is in the interests of China to protect these intellectual properties,” he said.

Koh said it would be difficult for the world’s two largest economies to decouple, given that the American people and business community attach great importance to the Chinese market.

“The market is huge, you just can’t ignore that market. So, the business sector will have no choice but to hold firm on China,” he said.

Meanwhile, the current battle against the coronavirus outbreak has shown that the world needs the United States and China working together. “The virus doesn’t care whether it’s impacting the United States or China. You have to work together in the interest of humankind,” Koh said.

“We just have to work more closely. It is in the interest of the United States and China to work closely … Of course, you’re going to have differences … but we should sit down and talk,” he added.

Koh said the newly released book “Fake Fear: America and China Relations” is a must-read for scholars and anyone interested in China-U.S. relations. It’s a guide to better understand China and the world in the 21st century, he said.

He said there is genuine fear in the West that China’s rise is a threat to the liberal international order, but that is not the case.

“China has not invaded anybody. China has not snatched an inch from other countries … So historically, the Chinese are peace-loving, because it is confident enough that it can accept foreign cultures, absorb and assimilate (them and make them) become part of its culture,” Koh added. Enditem

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