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Trade politics expert available to discuss U.S.-China relations

Thursday, January 23, 2020

LAWRENCE — President Trump and Vice Premier Liu He of China met last week to sign a “phase one” trade deal.

Jack Zhang, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, is available to discuss this significant event with media. 

“The U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century,” Zhang said. “Their cooperation is essential for tackling many common challenges, such as climate change, technology governance, nuclear proliferation, poverty and pandemics — yet growing strategic mistrust between them is making cooperation more difficult and conflict more likely.”

In an article he wrote this week for The Washington Post titled “The U.S. and China finally signed a trade agreement. Who won?,” Zhang points out something that’s been missing in the multiple dissections of the deal: It was a loser for Beijing. Zhang contends the deal contains little to address Beijing’s three core concerns raised earlier in negotiations: elimination of all tariffs, realistic trade purchase demands and an agreement that balanced demands on both sides.

He said, “The two economies enjoy an unprecedented level of economic interdependence, and while that introduces some problems and vulnerabilities, it has also generated a lot of opportunities, wealth and knowledge that would be lost if the U.S. and China were to 'decouple.’ It would be one of the messiest divorces in history as the two countries fight over the custody of the global economy.”

Zhang earned his doctorate in political science at the University of California San Diego. His research explores the political economy of trade and conflict in East Asia with a focus on explaining when and why economically interdependent countries use military versus economic coercion in foreign policy disputes. Zhang has consulted for the Eurasia Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

To schedule an interview, please contact KU News Service public affairs officer Jon Niccum at 785-864-7633 or jniccum@ku.edu.