Working Paper 68
Sino-US Relations: Universities entering the age of strategic competition
Published May 2021

This paper highlights selected historical and contemporary circumstances that situate US-China university cooperation during a significant downturn in Sino-US relations.

This paper provides a brief introduction to Sino-US relations in higher education amid the threat of decoupling. There is hardly a greater issue with implications for international higher education than the potential decoupling of the academic research enterprises of China and the US. Tensions over trade and technology kicked off an age of strategic competition that is affecting cooperation between the world’s two largest economies. The deterioration in Sino-American relations is unaffordable at a time when the current pandemic, a global economic slowdown, an impending climate crisis, and the likelihood of future pandemics all demand a strengthening of cooperation across the global academy. When science and truth take a back seat to domestic politics, international cooperation can spiral downward. Universities remain crucial institutions for peace and international security. Chinese and US universities have an enormous responsibility in the midst of Sino-US tensions. A unipolar world will not return but decoupling is a race to the bottom.

Read the full Working Paper here.