Exclusive | ‘Structural’ problem: top China scholar says US tensions will be ‘with us for a long time’

by Dewey Sim at scmp.com

Open Questions is a new series of interviews with global opinion leaders. We begin with Li Cheng, a political scientist and founding director of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre on Contemporary China and the World. Li was previously at the Washington-based Brookings Institution for 17 years, including heading up the think tank’s John L. Thornton China Centre. In this interview with Dewey Sim, he shares his views on US-China ties, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and what the removal of two ministers says about Chinese politics.

Professor, you spent decades in the US watching its ties with China develop and I want to start by asking about US-China relations, a very consequential relationship that has a huge impact on the world. What is your assessment of US-China relations at this point, particularly after the two leaders met last year?

China-US relations deteriorated around late 2017. Around that time, there were two major reports in Washington – one was in December by the State Department, in December 2017, the other was by the [Department of Defence] in the following months, in January 2018.