President Trump and President Xi – Beijing, 2017. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / Getty Images)
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Opinion: Understanding the U.S. relationship with China

Since the 20th Century, relationships between China and the United States have been tumultuous. Mainly, the United States dealt with two Chinese governments: the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China.

Since World War II, the Republic of China was one of America’s most important allies in East Asia for the US to prevent the Soviet influence from spreading to Asian countries, according to Mid-America American Studies Association.

However, as the Communist Party of China emerged and took power after the Chinese Civil War, the new Chinese regime decided to become pro-Soviet and anti-US, which resulted in aggravation of relations between the two nations, Chicago historian Bruce Cummings told University of Chicago Magazine in 2003.

As China became a communist state, the United States turned its eyes to Japan, despite having gone to war with the nation prior to World War II, in an attempt to make Japan an important ally in East Asia.

However, as the relationship between China and the Soviet Union deteriorated, China started to pursue its own diplomatic policies. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saw this situation as an important opportunity to recover relationships with China, according to Foreign Affairs.

As Deng Xiaoping, the new leader of China, took Mao Ze Dong’s position and started to develop China’s economy by gradually opening the country, the U.S. government and corporations have invested a lot of money into China to build favorable relationships.

China started to exponentially grow its economy with annual GDP growth rates of 10% to 12%, and China’s economy in 2000 grew 40 times larger compared to the national economy in 1970, according to International Monetary Fund.

China and America’s relationship still has been favorable so far, as China did not exhibit any attempts to replace or take over US influence in various countries around the world.

However, things started to rapidly change in the last 10 years. In 2013, China’s Purchasing Power Parity surpassed that of the United States, and it is forecasted that China’s economy would eventually take over first place by 2030, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Moreover, as China’s new leader Xi Jinping attempts to replace U.S. influence in Asian countries by economically ‘colonizing’ Southeast Asian countries and having conflicts with South Korea and Japan, the American government could not sit and watch China taking over their global influence.

Starting from the Obama administration, the American government initiated to gradually put economic tariffs on China, and the latent conflict between the two nations has flared as Donald Trump has declared the ‘Trade War’ with China.

As both China and the US are major economic and political powerhouses in the world, it is important to observe and analyze their relationships. The trade war and conflicts with China are completely unnecessary, but the conflict was inevitable and forecasted.

To maintain American influence and prevent the newly-minted superpower, there is a desperate need for people in the world to understand both countries.