Some people view the US and China as being in fierce competition: for jobs, for technology, for sea lanes and ultimately for control. Others see a symbiotic relationship between a Chinese producer and a US consumer, between a US provider of technology, know-how and branding and a Chinese provider of cheap labour and lax pollution laws.
Stephen Roach, Yale professor and former chairman and chief economist of Morgan Stanley, sees something more like an old married couple in serious need of counselling. He uses the word “codependency”, a psychologists’ term for an inherently unstable relationship that keeps getting worse over time. This is the idea – only a bit of a stretch, he says – that forms the subtitle of his new book Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China.