By Edward Tse, Gao Feng Advisory
The looming trade war between the US and China is front-page news around the world.
On the surface, it looks like US President Donald Trump following up on his campaign rhetoric of “America first” and part of his strategy to treat China as a “strategic competitor”.
However, it’s possible to trace the roots of the current impasse to a fundamental mistrust between the West, in particular, the US, and China.
Despite the differences, there are several similarities between China and the West, especially the US.
One of the most impressive developments in China in the past 40 years has been the rise of the private sector.
Entrepreneurship wasn’t part of the economy of the People’s Republic until the end of the Cultural Revolution when Deng Xiaoping decided to allow entrepreneurship to return on an experimental basis.
New economy companies are almost all in the private sector. Leading private companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, JD.com, Xiaomi, and Didi Chuxing are known to be highly innovative.
These entrepreneurial tech companies are more like Silicon Valley companies than the hierarchical organisations in the Chinese Communist Party or state-owned enterprises.
The mindset, mentality and approach of both the US and Chinese tech companies, as well as their investors, are very similar and many mutual benefits have been built over the years.
In fact, the Chinese and the US tech ecosystems are already quite intertwined and it would be hard to separate the two.
The Chinese saying “Qiu tong cun yi” means “seeking similarities while allowing for differences”.
The West, and the US, in particular, should view China in this light.
China is on the verge of a sustained, generational rise and President Xi Jinping has made it clear China would like to play a role in global leadership and governance.
By focusing more on the similarities, both global commerce and business will benefit.