Although both Beijing and Washington consider the U.S.-China relationship to be the most important in the world, distrust of each other’s long term intentions has grown to a dangerous degree, says a new report from Brookings. The New York Times reports on what the Chinese really think:

The senior leadership of the Chinese government increasingly views the competition between the United States and China as a zero-sum game, with China the likely long-range winner if the American economy and domestic political system continue to stumble, according to an influential Chinese policy analyst.

China views the United States as a declining power, but at the same time believes that Washington is trying to fight back to undermine, and even disrupt, the economic and military growth that point to China’s becoming the world’s most powerful country, according to the analyst, Wang Jisi, the co-author of “Addressing U.S.-China Strategic Distrust,” a monograph published this week by the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Institute for International and Strategic Studies at Peking University.

The United States is no longer seen as “that awesome, nor is it trustworthy, and its example to the world and admonitions to China should therefore be much discounted,” Mr. Wang writes of the general view of China’s leadership.

NYT also notes that it is “rare for a Chinese analyst who is not part of the strident nationalistic drumbeat to strip away the official talk by both the United States and China about mutual cooperation.” Wang is considered a Chinese foreign policy insider from his positions on advisory boards of the Chinese Communist Party and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is also director of the Center for International Strategic Studies and dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University.

Selected comments from Wang, again for emphasis, a Chinese foreign policy insider:

America’s “meddling” in the South China Sea territorial disputes by asserting freedom of navigation concerns there is particularly disturbing to Beijing.

In Beijing’s interpretation, many of Washington’s latest actions in Asia, including the decisions to deploy U.S. marines in Darwin, Australia, encourage Myanmar (Burma) to loosen domestic political control, and strengthen military ties with the Philippines, are largely directed at constraining China.

While the Obama Administration has reassured the Chinese leadership that it has no intention of containing China, the U.S. Navy and Air Force have intensified their close-in surveillance activities against China. At times, U.S. spy planes and ships are so close to Chinese borders that the PLA is seriously alarmed at operational levels. The Chinese military leadership views these activities as deliberately provocative.

Leading Chinese observers continue to view U.S. policy toward China as aimed to “Westernize” and “divide” the country.

It is now a question of how many years, rather than how many decades, before China replaces the United States as the largest economy in the world.

Many Chinese political elites suspect that it is the United States that is “on the wrong side of history.”

It is a popular notion among Chinese political elites, including some national leaders, that China’s development model provides an alternative to Western democracy and experiences for other developing countries to learn from.

The China Model, or Beijing Consensus, features an all-powerful political leadership that effectively manages social and economic affairs, in sharp contrast to some countries.

Clearly, Wang is not one to beat around the bush.

The Brookings report (read it) comes as China announced it will join Russia in naval war games starting later this month in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, reportedly to promote regional cooperation and check U.S. influence.

The U.S., meanwhile, will be conducting military drills with the Philippines a few weeks from now near disputed territory in the South China Sea. The Philippine government is also rebuilding a seaport in the Spratly Islands, a site analysts say could easily become a U.S. military outpost.

The U.S. also began deploying Marines to Australia this week, in the first wave of a build up of 2,500 troops due eventually to rotate through a de facto base in Darwin, as the U.S deepens its military presence in China’s strategic backyard.

This post originally appeared at Forbes.

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Ray Kwong is senior advisor to the USC US-China Institute, a charter member of the Asian International Business Advisory Group, a Forbes contributing writer and columnist for the Hong Kong Economic Journal. He is currently facilitating talks between China and U.S. interests on such matters as clean energy economics, nanotechnology and commercial aerospace. While it sounds way cooler than it really is, he is also a member of the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Market Advisory Board and the McKinsey Quarterly Executive Panel. You can follow him on Twitter @raykwong. Eyeball Ray's posts from Forbes ChinaTalk.
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