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How Does the Current U.S.-China Rivalry Impact Chinese Immigrants in the U.S.?

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When President Trump meets President Xi Jinping of China this week to discuss contentious trade issues, they will face each other in another nation that was once the United States’ main commercial rival, seen as a threat to American dominance. But the competition between the United States and Japan, which hosts the Group of 20 summit this week for the first time, settled into a normal struggle among businesses after waves of American anxiety in the 1980s. Japan hit a decade of stagnation, and in 2010, China overtook it as the world’s second-largest economy. There is no sign, though, that the rivalry between the United States and China will reach the same kind of equilibrium.

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The U.S.-China relationship is confronting its most daunting challenge in the forty years since the two countries established diplomatic ties. Current trends portend steadily worsening relations over the long term, with increasingly adverse consequences for all actors involved. Specifically, Beijing and Washington are transitioning from a sometimes contentious yet mutually beneficial relationship to an increasingly antagonistic, mutually destructive set of interactions. The often positive and optimistic forces, interests, and beliefs that sustained bilateral ties for decades are giving way to undue pessimism, hostility, and a zero-sum mindset in almost every area of engagement. Both sides bear responsibility for this pervasive deterioration, but at present the United States under President Donald Trump is unquestionably contributing most publicly to it, primarily through its ill-considered rhetorical and other overreactions to perceived Chinese misbehavior. While nothing about this degenerating relationship is inevitable (despite the uninformed alarmist predictions of doomsayers on both sides), the threat of an even more precipitous and dangerous decline in the relationship is very real and demands serious corrective measures to avert a potential catastrophe.To understand how we have reached this point and how to put the Sino-American relationship on a more positive path, analysts first need to dispel the simplistic and largely negative misconceptions about the past that predominate today, especially in the United States. Next, observers need to grasp the highly adverse structural and attitudinal trends driving the current negative dynamic, the serious dangers these trends pose for both countries and the world (including the possibility of a new Cold War), and the high stakes involved in correcting or mitigating them. From that vantage point, policymakers may better discern which actions each side must take to stabilize and strengthen the relationship for their mutual benefit.

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However, social change was not only one sided. As much as the Chinese immigrants were affected by the different culture, they also influenced cultural change in America. For instance, historians note that the Chinese had a significant impact on the feeding habits of the settlers. Chinese immigrants were considered to be extremely good cooks. This lead to the influence the way food was prepared and consumed. Because of the work that was going on during the railway lying down period, many restaurants cropped up around small towns that workers lived. Most of the cooks who were employed to work in the restaurants were Chinese immigrants. Apart from feeding practices, the Chinese immigrants also influenced the American working culture (Gold, 215). Although they were under paid, the immigrants worked hard in their jobs. Their ability to withstand tough conditions influenced the performance culture amongst most settlers at that time. In addition, though they changed their clothing methods, most of their garments were considered to be of a fashionable nature, which also led to an impact it the wearing trend. Chinese immigrants were also considered very good farmers. After they had settled in America, the Chinese went ahead and cultivated the lands providing fruits and vegetables to the settlers. Most settlers were quick to copy this method of farming. However, though this was the case according to history, Chinese immigrants were considered to come from a less superior culture (Gold, 215). Their culture was considered inadequate to deal with the needs that America had at the time. On the other hand, despite the problems they faced by holding on to their culture, customs and ethnicity, the Chinese immigrants have played a crucial role in making of America to what it is today.

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As can be seen, to avoid catastrophe, both sides will have to accept truths that so far they have not: China must acknowledge the outrage caused by its overreaching bids for control, and America must adjust to China’s presence, without selling honor for profit. The ascendant view in Washington holds that the competition is us-or-them; in fact, the reality of this century will be us-and-them. It is naïve to imagine wrestling China back to the past. The project, now, is to contest its moral vision of the future.

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Research Review of Equal Education. Evanston, v: Center for Equal Education, School of Education, Northwestern University, 1977. Print.

Lee, Erika. At America: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. Internet resource.

Gold, Martin. Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.s. Congress : a Legislative History. Alexandria, VA: TheCapital.Net, 2012. Print.

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How Does the Current U.S.-China Rivalry Impact Chinese Immigrants in the U.S.?
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