Domestic Politics and International Relations: US and China

Watch this clip of Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution on how domestic economic issues in the US and China are impinging on the international relations of the two countries:


3 thoughts on “Domestic Politics and International Relations: US and China

  1. Anastasia Maria Stitch

    Could not agree more with Leiberthal’s assertion that the larger question shouldn’t focus on America’s military capacity, soft power or innovation system, rather it should center on: “which American president will be more successful in forging the kind of overarching agreement that will put us on a solid fiscal path”. The underlying argument posed here is that both the US and China must pivot their focus to the domestic realm as it is here where their credibility in the Asia Pacific lies.

    Therefore, a consideration of the “two level game” is a vital tool for addressing how US is best to engage with China. Analysis of China’s domestic issues has been comparatively weak in comparison to the broader, overarching analysis of its international role. We need to ask the more fundamental question can China provide the political capital necessary to engage in domestic reform in order to maintain its growth and dynamic role in the region?

  2. Brian

    Although there is considerable debate about whether American power is waning, it is clear that there comes a time when a nation’s domestic challenges prevent it from effectively exerting influence in the international arena. Leiberthal is spot on by saying that the United States needs to pause for a bit and reflect on its own fiscal policy. Without a strong internal framework, it will be much more difficult to push forward its foreign agenda as it has in the past. I think the majority of Americans also feel this way. The problem though is coming to an agreement on how to resolve the issue. So far, there has been little talk amongst the leadership and very little progress.

    The world’s second largest economy is also at a turning point. It will be very interesting to see how the change in Chinese leadership will affect China’s domestic policy, particularly since we’re seeing more frequent reports of a slowdown in the Chinese economy. The previous growth rates in the past have done well to distract the middle-class from the many domestic problems the country faces. If the economy is slowing down, I imagine this will lead to a greater realization of local problems and more dissent from the Chinese middle-class.

    1. Pheonix

      This news clip of K. Leiberthal sums it up quite nicely – US and China relations hinge on the respective countries getting their economic houses in order by implementing necessary domestic reforms. According to a commentary in the Telegraph entitled “China’s economic destiny in doubt after leardship shock” by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, he asserts that incoming reformist leadership Xi Xingping and Li Keqiang will have their hands tied by a conservatively packed PRC Politburo’s Standing Committee. Likewise, re-elected President Obama, will have a very challenging time to enact economic reforms without the help of a Republican dominated House of Representatives.

      It remains unclear if these reformist leaders will have the domestic political clout to accomplish the economic reforms at home.


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