The consequences of the presidency of Donald Trump will be debated for decades to come—but for the Chinese leadership, its meaning is already clear. China’s rulers believe that the past four years have shown that the United States is rapidly declining and that this deterioration has caused Washington to frantically try to suppress China’s rise. Trump’s trade war, technology bans, and determination to blame China for his own mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic have all confirmed the perception of Chinese policy elites that the United States is bent on keeping their country down.
By Julian Gewirtz November/December 2020
Julian Gewirtz is currently an Academy Scholar at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He is the author of Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China (Harvard University Press, 2017) and a new book on the tumult, legacies, and historical manipulation of China's 1980s (Harvard University Press, 2021). He received his doctorate in modern Chinese history in 2018 from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has been a Lecturer in History at Harvard, a Fellow in History and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Special Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy. His research is published in the Journal of Asian Studies, Past & Present, and Foreign Affairs. He has also written on Asia for publications including The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Politico, Caijing, Caixin, and Harper’s. (Twitter: @JulianGewirtz)