SINGAPORE (Oct 21): As a US diplomat and then China analyst for more than three decades, Andy Rothman had a ringside seat for how China emerged from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution, advanced after the Cold War and grew from being “basically irrelevant” to world trade to become the world’s second-largest economy.
The year-long trade war, which has driven US-China ties to a new low, has saddened Rothman. All the drama, accusations and tensions happening today are scenarios he did not imagine when he was with the US State Department. “I feel disheartened, especially by the prevailing view in the US. Those four decades of engagement between the US and China and between the US and Europe have failed,” says Rothman, an investment strategist at fund manager Matthews Asia, in an interview with The Edge Singapore on Oct 8, just when China’s vice-premier Liu He arrived in Washington, DC to resume negotiations.
The past few decades are “far from perfect”, but from an economic point of view, they have been good for both China and the US. Chinese citizens enjoyed tremendous income growth, while US consumers enjoyed higher spending power, thanks to made-in-China products. “Without China, arguably, there would not have been the consumer electronics revolution,” Rothman says.