The United States and China are close to a partial trade deal that will de-escalate their trade war that has gone on for more than a year now and dragged down not only their economies but also that of the world. So it is not just the Americans and Chinese but also the rest of the world who are looking forward to a deal that both sides say is almost sewn up. As encouraging as progress is for the "Phase 1" deal, as US President Donald Trump calls it, complete resolution of the trade war, with its many intractable issues, is not going to happen too soon. And even when that does occur, analysts, including those from the US, have warned that it will not resolve all the issues and difficulties in the US-China relationship.
This is because, as Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong noted at a recent forum, the US views China not only as a strategic rival but also a threat to its global superpower status. Washington worries that China is seeking to propagate a model of illiberal authoritarianism - which is at odds with America's liberal democracy - globally given China's growing economic influence. Its answer is to constrain China and to seek to decouple its economy and technology from that of China. Any decoupling or all-out conflict between the two rivals will be disastrous for everyone, not least the Asian region, with its close economic and security ties with the two major powers.