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How the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, deal with each other will likely be a big theme in 2017.

The US-China relationship ended 2016 under a dark cloud as US president-elect Donald Trump promised to play tougher with China. He’s vowed to slap tariffs on Chinese goods and questioned his country’s long-standing policy on Taiwan, which China considers its own. So, will these two economic titans  go on a collision course in 2017?

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will be in the spotlight too, in 2017, over how he manages a slowing economy weighed down by corporate debt and excess industrial capacity.

Karel Lannoo, CEO of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), discusses the main stresses that China, under Xi Jinping, will face in 2017, both domestically and overseas.

“I think economic growth will be slowing down a bit, but compared to Europe, it [China] will continue to have a very high economic growth – around 6 percent … We’ve seen this slowing down since several years … The main problems I see in China are steady depreciation of the renminbi (RMB) and the probable problems of over-indebtedness in the financial system, and within the households, and how this may unfold. Also, the declining reserves … and, of course, the effect of the Trump investment plan on Asia. Who will be buying US treasury bills, if we see the Chinese economic growth is coming down and their dependence on foreign imports is increasing,” says Lannoo.

It is unclear whether Trump will unwind certain trade deals, notes Lannoo as “it’s very difficult to read his intentions because he’s often doing entirely the opposite of what he’s saying”.

China also surprised the world when it released a new study just as 2016 drew to a close, outlining the government’s ambitious plans to make the country a space power. Rob McBride reports from Beijing.

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