Degrees of Separation: A Targeted Approach to U.S.-China Decoupling – Interim Report

The CSIS Economics Program launched Degrees of Separation to establish clearer objectives for U.S. engagement with China and to assess whether disengagement from specific economic activities can help in meeting such objectives.

This interim report reviews the evolution of the U.S.-China relationship since President Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972. It takes stock of the current bilateral economic relationship, with particular focus on trade, investment, and innovation linkages. The report identifies six distinct areas that motivated U.S.-China engagement from 1972 through the end of the Trump administration: (1) geostrategy; (2) economics; (3) human rights and civil society; (4) global rules and norms; (5) global public goods; and (6) technology and innovation. While specific objectives in each area continue to evolve, these six areas remain relevant to guiding bilateral engagement today.

A subsequent report, delivered later this year, will present a framework for assessing specific economic activities as candidates for targeted decoupling, along with case studies designed to test the framework.

This report is made possible through the generous support of the Smith Richardson Foundation.

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Dylan Gerstel

Dylan Gerstel

Research Associate, Economics Program