China and the US Can Build a “Non-Alliance” Cooperation
By Fan Wang
The U.S. has to avoid hedging, for China is not a bet for America but a steadfast partner with which the U.S. can cooperate. At the same time, the U.S. needs to avoid traditional Western hegemony and respect the “non-Western operations” of the world instead.
Translated By Cheechen Chan
20 February 2012
Edited by Tom Proctor
China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
There exist many options in U.S.-China strategy. From the “China threat theory” to the “strategic reassurance,” one of the main ideas is to seek from among strategies with multiplicity to ones with duality, then to possible certainties, then a strategic certainty.
In order to have a cooperative and peaceful development, a new form of Sino-American relations is imperative. There are, however, realistic restrictions which prevent this relationship from being taken to another level. There is a certain measure of unspoken strategic recognition between China and the U.S., but their strategic consensus is very limited. At the same time, despite their highly strategic dependence, the possibility of strategic confrontation between these two nations has nevertheless not been eliminated.
Sino-American relations depend on the interaction and coordination between two main factors, competition and cooperation; the key to its development is how to promote peace and cooperation. From the perspective of internal affairs and foreign relations, the impact of the international system on China is far greater than that on the U.S. Due to the differences in their stages of development and international status, China has greater self-discipline than the United States, whereas the U.S. finds itself in a great paradox of strategic planning. The superpower status which America enjoys enables it to rise above any constraints and to go its own way. Yet, this has or will soon lead to a greater rebound both internationally and domestically, and the domestic impact will keep increasing. America often finds it hard to reconcile the incongruity between “keeping the position of a world power” and “maintaining stability.” As a result, they are miserable and caught in a strategic dilemma. The crux of the problem is U.S. hegemony, which will prevent the U.S. from exceeding its strategic paradox if it remains. This is precisely one of America’s challenges of the century.
Currently, China is attempting to change the Sino-American cooperation under the outlook of power politics via five ways: First, fortifying interdependence; second, emphasizing the severity of common threats; third, strengthening cooperation on the international level, as there is much room for this type of cooperation; fourth, recognizing the importance of co-existing rather than replacing one another; and fifth, realizing the new non-alliance cooperation among major powers.
The U.S. has to avoid hedging, for China is not a bet for America, but a steadfast partner with which the U.S. can cooperate. At the same time, the U.S. needs to avoid the route of traditional Western hegemony and respect the “non-Western operations” of the world instead.
If cooperative relations with our competitors can be maintained, the development of Sino-American relations will be further promoted. I think that the outlook for Sino-American relations can be analyzed in three stages. With existing Sino-American relations as a starting point, the relations can be divided into three phases. The first is economic interdependence, the current and initial phase. The second is security and political interdependence. There will be more consensuses achieved in security and politics and an increase in strategic mutual trust, and both parties will not regard each other as strategic rivals. Third will be an integrated political and economic interdependence, a phase where non-traditional and non-alliance types of relationships between great powers are formed. At the moment, we are right in the middle of a difficult transition from the first phase into the second.
The author is a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University.
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