On Conflict

I have been toiling in the trenches of the US-China relationship for over 25 years — initially as a Wall Street chief economist who transitioned into the Hong-Kong based Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and, then, starting in 2010 as a faculty member at Yale developing new courses on China and Japan. This Substack is a repository for my commentary and analysis that draws on this rich experience as a practitioner and a professor, bringing a Wall Street perspective to the challenges faced by the most dynamic region of the world.

My latest book, Accidental Conflict: America, China and the Clash of False Narratives, offers the most up-to-date example how I work. The book stresses an almost paradoxical assessment of conflict escalation. I still have great admiration for the Chinese people and for the miraculous transformation of China’s economy over the past 45 years. I refuse to buy the western consensus that China’s development miracle was always doomed to failure. I am highly critical of the outbreak of a virulent Sinophobia that portrays China as America’s most dangerous adversary since the former Soviet Union.

At the same time, I am steadfast in my view that China faces serious structural growth challenges in the years ahead. I worry increasingly that barring new and imaginative policies and reforms, China is at risk of falling into a Japanese-like quagmire. The urgency of China’s policy challenge cannot be under-estimated.

Conflict is the lens that brings many of these seemingly disparate strands together. My core thesis is that this oiutbreak of superpower conflict is the manifestation of a relationship problem that afflicts both the United States and China. It has become polticallly expedient for both nations to blame each other for a rich array of self-inflicted problems. The US, for example, blames China for its trade deficit rather than accept responsibility for a chronic shortfall of domestic saving. China blames America’s policies of containment for a growth problem that suffers from the lack of safety-net reforms that might spur consumer-led rebalancing. I continue to believe that US-China codependency offers a recipe for conflict resolution that would be in the best interest of both superpowers.

My views are not without controversy — both in the United States and most recently in Greater China. I learned from my Wall Street days that strong opinions are not for the faint of heart. This Substack, Conflict, is an attempt to bring the increasingly contentious Sino-American debate to life. In doing so, my agenda will remain analytical, not political.

Stay up-to-date

My posts include weekly blog dispatches, op-eds in major newspapers, and longer articles and research papers — all of which are tied to realtime and prospective developments in the continuum of Sino-American conflict escalation. By subscribing to this Substanck you will never miss an update—every new post is sent directly to your email inbox. For a spam-free, ad-free reading experience, plus audio and community features, get the Substack app.

Join the conversation

My hope is to attract like-minded individuals who recognize the critical importance of superpower conflict — not only what it portends for the United States, China, and the world at large but also what it has to say about a way out, a path for conflict resolution. By subscribing to this Substack you wil be joining a community of people who share your interests, concerns, and hopes. I urge you to participate in the comments section, and/or support this work with a subscription.

To learn more about the tech platform that powers this publication, visit Substack.com.

Subscribe to Conflict

Can the US and China avoid accidental conflict?


Former Chief Economist and Asia Chair Morgan Stanley, Yale Faculty since 2012, author most recently of "Accidental Conflict: America, China, and the Clash of False Narratives"