China doesn't want to be like the West

Theories abound for why the US-China trade talks collapsed into stalemate, from misplaced overconfidence on the part of Beijing to President Donald Trump's calculation that a tariff fight will boost his re-election chances.

It helps to look beyond the political manoeuvring and consider China's history. Throughout its 500-year relationship with the West, Beijing has sought to profit from its wealth without truly embracing its ideals and norms.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'China doesn't want to be like the West'. Print Edition | Subscribe