In a 2005 speech before the National Committee on US-China Relations, former World Bank president Robert Zoellick famously called upon the Chinese government to become a responsible stakeholder in the global system, and to work with other international powers to maintain stability and security around the world. One can assume that when Mr Zoellick delivered his speech on that autumn day in New York, there was no doubt in his mind – nor in the minds of most American leaders and policymakers – that the United States was in fact the responsible stakeholder in the international system, and that China was not.
However, last year’s election of Mr Donald Trump has spurred a remarkable reversal in global perceptions of the US and China.
President Trump has loudly proclaimed that he will pursue unilateralist “America First” policies, and he has also threatened to withdraw the US from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In an interview last year with NBC’s “Meet the Press”, he said: “We’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out. These trade deals are a disaster. The World Trade Organisation is a disaster.”