De-risking disguised form of decoupling the West uses to contain China

Though de-risking might sound milder than decoupling, the two words are, in essence, the same thing and are used by the U.S. and its Western allies to contain China, said officials and experts.

Instead of decoupling, leaders and officials in the U.S. and its Western allies have used the term de-risking in recent months, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Foreign media reports suggest that the U.S.' use of the new term shows it wants to appease the U.S. companies that need the Chinese market and its allies.

"If decoupling goes too far, it will drag down the U.S. economy, drive away allies, stymie efforts to address global crises like climate change," Jon Bateman is a senior fellow in the Technology and International Affairs Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in an opinion piece published by Politico.

But officials and analysts found that de-risking is merely old wine in a new bottle. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying tweeted that "de-risking is in fact decoupling" in late May.

Jiang Shisong, a research fellow at the School of Law, Chongqing University, said, in reality, de-risking is "no more than a disguised form of decoupling and protectionism in the service of the current geopolitical landscape by, among others, reducing the opportunities and channels for dialogue, cooperation and engagement with China."

Noting that the term de-risking is premised on distorting and exaggerating the perception of China as a threat to security and values, Jiang said the U.S. and its allies are trying to use this approach to "contain China's development and preserve its own dominance in the global economic and political system."

Figures prove that neither de-risking nor decoupling will work. Data published by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in February showed that the U.S.-China trade in goods hit a new record of $690.6 billion in 2022.

A decoupling of the European Union from China will reduce Germany's gross domestic product by 1 percent in the long term, said the Kiel Institute, an independent economic research institute based in Germany.

Instead, according to the General Administration of Customs, China's total goods trade reached a record 42.07 trillion yuan ($6.2 trillion) in 2022, up 7.7 percent year on year, topping the world for six consecutive years.

China is also a major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions. The International Monetary Fund forecast that China's contribution to global economic growth will be over one-third this year.

"A China like this poses no risk but offers opportunities," said Mao Ning, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, at a regular press conference in June.

Noting that the de-risking strategy toward China will increase misunderstanding and conflicts among Beijing, Washington and Brussels, Jiang warned that it may also pose hazards to the world, including exacerbating global economic inequality and increasing geopolitical risks.

Dilma Vana Rousseff, president of the New Development Bank and former Brazilian president, referred to Western attempts at decoupling and de-risking as "political weapons to curtail the rise of new players in the international arena" during her speech at the first plenary session of the 11th World Peace Forum held at Tsinghua University in early July.

Noting that the very dynamics of globalization, although currently weaker, has given rise to a deep interdependence among economies and regions of the world, Rousseff said any attempts to erect insurmountable barriers between nations or countries is nothing but an extraordinary return to the Iron Curtain.

(Cover: The first China-Europe freight train on a timetable arrives in Duisburg, Germany, November 7, 2022. /CFP)

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