Whether by tariffs or by decree, US President Donald Trump has long sought the silver bullet that would decrease dependence on Chinese goods and revive American industry, all the while compelling China to reform its controversial trade and investment practices and reduce the bilateral deficit.

In a recent interview, Trump railed against “stupid supply chains that are all over the world”, further threatening to “cut off the whole relationship” with China and rejecting the notion that undoing the extensive links between the two largest economies comes with any trade-offs.

But to the extent that economic decoupling actually occurs, it would represent a major disruption of the market-driven evolution of supply chains over the past several decades. For all the talk of sweeping change, US dependence on Asian manufacturing is both deeply rooted and remarkably stable over time.

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This article was originally published in the South China Morning Post.