In this critical time, as the novel coronavirus ravages the entire world, some United States politicians do not want to join forces with other countries to collectively fight the epidemic, preferring to use this as an opportunity to undermine other nations. It must be said that this is a shallow decision that lacks either any historical or strategic consideration.
First of all, from a security angle, global stability is beneficial for both China and the U.S. Both countries are highly globalized and constitute a vital part of the global supply chain. In contrast, global turmoil will lead to varying levels of economic and political harm for both China and the U.S. This chaos may even jeopardize the images of these two nations as well as their international standing, thereby damaging both their soft and hard power.
Secondly, China-U.S. conflict will lead to unknown consequences. In our modern era, there can be no winner of a dispute between two great powers, and conflict will lead instead to the sudden rise of an as yet unknown third party. This is the key reason why both China and the U.S. must act as responsible powers. The China-U.S. dispute is related not only to the future of these two nations, but is a strategic issue that will determine the stability of international infrastructure as well as the direction of global development.
This unknown third party may be an existing powerful country, or it may be an influential or potentially important organization. These third parties are currently waiting for conflicting powers to commit critical mistakes. Judging by the comparative strength of major powers, these potential third parties may take advantage of the confrontation between these countries at any time to quickly increase their own influence.
From a historical perspective, a confrontation between two major powers serves to exacerbate international divisions and competition, and has the potential to trigger a new Cold War or even a local hot war.
Third, from an economic perspective, although plans that lead to mutual benefit do not maximize profit, they are rational and feasible. An economic crisis in either China or the U.S. does not serve as an opportunity for the other.
Under the assumption that a strong China will inevitably seek to act as a global hegemon, the U.S. has sought out and strengthened the misconception that China is following the path toward a power struggle, as defined by realism theory in international relations. This has intensified the confrontation between China and the U.S. As for China, in facing the current moment, it will need to increasingly make rational and wise decisions. Only in this way is there a possibility of avoiding the intrusion of emotions. From a realistic perspective, it is still of the utmost importance to avoid an exacerbated conflict with the U.S. This is also key for China to avoid falling into an American-style strategic conflict. This issue must be analyzed from a complex strategic perspective, i.e., whether or not we continue to look at this question as one of competition under conditions of interdependence.
From the perspective of economic development, an economic downturn or decline of the United States is not only a domestic calamity, but may also have dire consequences for the global economy. In the interdependent world we have today, China’s development cannot be achieved at the expense of the continuous decline of the world’s largest country. Even if this were possible, it is highly improbable, and the risks and costs of such a pursuit are extremely high. Based on its own fear of possible decline, the U.S. will increasingly suppress other countries, particularly those that challenge it. The U.S. might even take extreme measures. This dangerous situation must be avoided in order to safeguard against possible consequences.
The decline of the U.S. is not a fortunate situation for China. Similarly, China’s economic difficulties by no means benefit the U.S. Therefore, China-U.S. competition might exist, but confrontation must be avoided. Based on what is required for the mutual benefit and stability of both countries, China does not wish to see the U.S. decline. Should the U.S. need it, China is willing to lend a helping hand, for to help the U.S. is also to help China itself. Similarly, from a U.S. strategic perspective, continuing to choose cooperation with China is to choose the best way to help itself.
Fourth, a dispute between major powers could lead to a suboptimal outcome. In the current state of relationships between major powers, there is a sense of “In me, there is you” and vice versa. Our interests are intertwined. In a conflict between major powers, there can be no winner and no potential for victory. It is not feasible to try to maximize personal benefit by eliminating the other party because the the price of doing so is far too high. This approach only serves to damage oneself almost as much as the opponent. Similarly, seeking to maximize personal interests often makes it difficult to succeed in a winner-take-all situation when a nation’s own interests are at stake. Because that type of behavior would also incite fierce opposition from other countries, it is not sustainable.
Relationships between major powers can be maintained only through mutual respect and accommodation and seeking outcomes acceptable to both sides. Such relationships cannot be sustained by a solution that is preferable to only one country. A perspective of mutual benefit must be based in the common understandings of both parties. Mutual benefit should also be the most important strategic consideration between major powers, particularly between China and the U.S. If some U.S. politicians blindly adopt an antagonistic attitude that lacks strategic vision, this will only serve to worsen China-U.S. relations and the end result can only be a loss for both sides. China does not wish this to happen. This is why it is important to maintain cooperation between China and the U.S.
China-U.S. relations need to be regulated and crafted to promote the mutual benefit of both countries. This sort of crafting begins with each side reshaping itself, then using this new approach to gradually balance each other. It does not simply entail encouraging the other party to change while remaining the same.
A solution that benefits only one side is difficult to sustain. Only through focusing on being complementary and recognizing the inequalities and diversity of development can the countries achieve a result to their mutual benefit. From the perspective of interdependence, both China and the U.S. need to assist their economically troubled competitors.
This is also the underlying meaning of the global community. Countries need to share their suffering as well as their triumphs, because the fates of all countries are connected. Human willpower cannot alter this truth. At the same time, normal interaction between countries will lead to situation where the effect is to provide mutual aid. In simple terms: Only once I am good and you are good can everyone truly benefit.
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