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COVID-19 Crisis as a Catalyst for the USA-China Decoupling
Analysis and Forecasting. IMEMO Journal

COVID-19 Crisis as a Catalyst for the USA-China Decoupling

DOI: 10.20542/afij-2021-2-13-27
© Alexander A. ZAITSEV, Anastasia S. PYATACHKOVA, 2021
Received 09.04.2021.
Accepted 01.06.2021.
Alexander A. ZAITSEV (alex.zaytsev@hse.ru), ORCID: 0000-0002-5428-709X,
National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101100, Russian Federation.
Anastasia S. PYATACHKOVA (apyatachkova@hse.ru), ORCID: 0000-0001-7319-2371,
National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101100, Russian Federation.

Acknowledgements. The reported study was funded by RFBR and EISR, project number 20-011-31821 “World politics and economy megatrends in the context of a global systemic crisis: models and strategies for Russia”. 

The Sino-American rivalry has increased during the pandemic. The ongoing decoupling is rather sectoral than comprehensive and is reflected in trade and sanctions war, competition, restrictions in such spheres as technologies, investment, science, and education.
The contradictions are caused not by the pandemic context, but stem from the fundamental structural problems in Sino-American cooperation associated with a change of the economic development model in China and the absence of compensatory mechanisms in the United States, as well as the transition of countries to the phase of strategic competition.
From a formal point of view, it looks like the confrontation was mainly initiated by the United States, but it was China that first revealed the intention to greater independence. It is associated with the Chinese economy's qualitative changes – restructuring of the growth model from export towards domestic demand and Chinese leadership claims in a number of high-tech industries. All this made cooperation with China disadvantageous and not safe (in the sense of economic security) for the United States.
The 2020 pandemic accelerates natural processes, and the arrival of the new Biden administration will not change their overall direction: the trend towards breaking ties in a number of areas will continue, despite the presence of interested parties, especially in the business sector. But the high economic interdependence still determines the gradual and long-term nature of the decoupling process.
Decoupling also has some important consequences for other countries, which, in the context of a strategic confrontation between the two powers, may be faced with the need to choose one of the partners. In the future, some countries may also benefit due to the restructuring of the Chinese-American value chains.

For citation:

Zaitsev A., Pyatachkova A. COVID-19 Crisis as a Catalyst for the USA-China Decoupling. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2021, no 2, pp. 13-27. https://doi.org/10.20542/afij-2021-2-13-27

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