If you ignore the headlines, you’d think the United States and China were the best of partners. Americans continue to rely on Chinese-made products in their homes, at their offices, and in their pockets. If you live near a university, you can still bump into one of the 340,000 Chinese studying in the US. You can still take a Beijing-sponsored Chinese-language class at any of the 104 Confucius Institutes in 46 states.
Even if you’re not among the 114,000 Americans who work in the 2,400 Chinese-owned companies in this country, your livelihood still depends on China. As America’s largest trading partner and the largest foreign holder of US debt, China keeps the American economy afloat. Economically, the two nations are joined at the hip.
But in virtually every other way, China and the United States are drifting apart, and this growing rift could have catastrophic consequences.