Asim Qureshi, MA Physics, University of Oxford
The real underlying reason is that the US is a superpower in relative decline, it wants to keep its pole position, and starting this trade war with China is its attempt to restrain China's rise.
China's economy is not only catching up with the US’s fast, in terms of absolute GDP, but China is currently building a transport infrastructure that will link it to all of Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe through the $1T Belt and Road Initiative, which is essentially a modern Silk Road.
It is arguably the greatest infrastructure project in human history - and it will propel China forward.
Chinese construction companies have already secured $350B of construction contracts, but it doesn't end there. China is building mutually beneficial business relationships with countries across the world.
The US, on the other hand, bombs, bullies and sanctions its fellow countries, not only destroying them but leaving a world that increasingly doesn't trust it which will leave it less influential than it should be.
The US bullies countries all the time, but this time it has picked a fight it won't win.
One is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not public opinion. There are a number of valid reasons to be wary of China’s rising power:
Surveillance technology is a disturbing area China is getting a bit too good at for my comfort: I worry less about how China handles its domestic population (arguably their business) and more about how such tech will affect the lives of the rest of us as it gets sold to ruthless dictators and other oppressive governments.
China also has a deserved reputation for currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and a disturbing inability to control poisonous and dangerous products, from dog food that killed pets to contaminated toothpaste and plastic rice.
Just because one fears the USA as a global power is no reason to embrace communist China. In America we have a saying that fits here: “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” It means one can move from one dangerous situation straight into a yet hotter one. Change is not always improvement.
But at least let's test China and see.
The point is not trusting the USA does not mean it is wise to trust China. Just because you know the local leopard is hungry doesn’t mean the smart move is to lie down with lions.
Neither nation is without significant drawbacks as a global power.