Since the U.S.-China trade war started last year, U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff strategy has evoked much opposition and many complaints from within the United States. On Wednesday, 100 leading China experts, the majority of whom are from the U.S., published an open letter in the Washington Post urging Trump and the U.S. congress to not treat China as an enemy.
The letter provides seven propositions that represent the experts' collective views on China. Its writers, hailing from some of the world's most highly-regarded education institutions and think tanks, explain how treating China as an enemy will damage the United States’ international role and reputation, and even undermine the economic interests of all nations.
The letter, written by five experts and signed off by 100 leading figures with China-focused expertise, begins by expressing deep concerns "about the growing deterioration in U.S. relations with China," which does not serve American or global interests.
"Although we are very troubled by Beijing's recent behavior, which requires a strong response, we also believe that many U.S. actions are contributing directly to the downward spiral in relations," the letter stresses.
The seven propositions detailed in the letter range from politics to the economy, but focus on the same point—maintaining friendly, close ties with China as well as with U.S. allies and partners. The experts believe the right balance of competition and cooperation can strengthen the relationship between the world's two largest economies.
"In conclusion, a successful U.S. approach to China must focus on creating enduring coalitions with other countries in support of economic and security objectives," the letter said.
Pointing to the 100 signatures below the letter, the message to Trump underlines that this "clearly indicates that there is no single Washington consensus endorsing an overall adversarial stance toward China."
This is not the first time leading experts have called on the U.S. president to change his damaging trade policies. In May 2018, 1,143 economists, including 15 Nobel laureates, wrote an open letter to Trump telling him to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s through his protectionist policies.
Here are the individuals who circulated the letter:
M. Taylor Fravel, professor of political science, MIT.
J. Stapleton Roy, distinguished scholar, Wilson Center; former U.S. ambassador to China.
Michael D. Swaine, senior fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Susan A. Thornton, senior fellow, Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center; former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
Ezra Vogel, a professor emeritus at Harvard University.