We all know what really matters is not how a war begins, but how it ends. China and the U.S. have decided to hold their fire and sit down to talk.
This is not a grand bargain – it is a turning point.
There are still key issues both sides need to tackle, like trade imbalance, the opening of markets, and rules of technology transfer. But months of rancor have been sobering, and feet-dragging will produce nothing.
Trade is merely the wrapper around conflicts of interests. Nobody can deny that the interests are becoming more divergent, the machine of "Chimerica" has seen sand in the gears and we should probably be on guard for more, which can lead to frictions or even confrontations between the world's two largest economies.
But if we keep focusing on what keeps us apart, then we are being irresponsible. There are larger forces at work that keeps us together. The farmers, fishermen, toy makers, phone manufacturers, chip makers, shipbuilders, computer coders and insurance sellers on both sides of the Pacific make up the fabrics of the bond.
Data speaks for itself: Following the outbreak of the trade war, American imports from China jumped by 7.4 percent in the third quarter this year, higher than GDP growth of both, not because of, but in spite of tariff spikes. To decouple is not impossible, but very improbable. There is a Chinese saying: You might break the bone, but the tendon remains one.
But we have to be realistic: China will grow, and America will grouch. The changing reality of economic strength and cultural differences will be there. The key is to conduct a balancing act with even greater skill.
In the end, this is not a trade issue, but a trust issue: Do we trust ourselves, do we trust the others and do we trust the future?