People once hoped the two powers could forge a better relationship. Now the best hope is stopping deterioration
Looking back, it is hard to believe that in the Obama era there were serious discussions about whether a “G2” could emerge – with the US and China coming together, never easily but earnestly, and in good faith, to tackle the world’s great problems.
The costs of mutual hostility are now greater and clearer than they were back then: the risk of global economic recession, a failure to tackle the climate crisis, and even of military conflict in the future. Yet far from strengthening, bilateral relations have nosedived. The relationship between China and the US is not only at its lowest point for years, but appears to be trapped in a downward spiral. For now Beijing, in particular, seems to be giving up on fixing it. Its support for Moscow has contributed to the deterioration, but is also driven by its belief that the partnership helps to buttress it against US hostility. How and when the war in Ukraine ends could prove critical for US-China relations.