New US-China economic exchanges show how status quo trumps substantive changes in ties, analysts say

by Kandy Wong at

Washington and Beijing appear keen on staying the course in their interactions, with warm handshakes and sincerity in dialogues, but they lack the incentive to resolve deep-seated differences, according to analysts who point to a just-concluded meeting of the US-China Economic Working Group.

Employing such a tactic in a formal economic-dialogue structure, they say, serves the respective agendas in both countries and comes as the administration of US President Joe Biden is facing a resurgent challenge by predecessor Donald Trump in an election year, while President Xi Jinping has his hands full trying to revive China’s economy.

“2024 is a year when both powers have incentives and strong reasons to favour the preservation of the status quo – strategic rivalry with rigorously installed guardrails to prevent the two parties from drifting towards undue escalation,” said Brian Wong, a fellow with the University of Hong Kong’s Centre on Contemporary China and the World.

And Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University, said there are no reasons to expect any “remarkable results” at such meetings, given past experiences.