Power Rivalry or Peaceful Coexistence?

The old world order is collapsing, the new one is not yet created. China and Russia are at the epicenter of changes. What to do? To work in the name of a common future or join a new struggle between the great powers, ponders Fu Ying, Vice Chairperson of The National People's Congress, Foreign Affairs Committee, speaker at the first session of the Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, which was dedicated to the presentation of the Valdai Club annual report, titled "Living in a Crumbling World".

The report pointed out that “States are increasingly egoistic and focused on solving their own problems. And that “a surge of new multi-level global conflicts” might arise after the breakdown of the old order. ” I forwarded it to some friends in China who also found it thought provoking.

China and Russia are at the epicenter of the changes and I look forward to learning more from the Valdai discussion. Let me share the following points:

First, we live in a highly interconnected world. It’s even more so in the era of economic globalization and “web of things.” When the US wages trade frictions with China, they can affect the livelihoods of the ordinary people in both countries. The impact may also disrupt the trend of global economy, posing grave challenges to many businesses. 

The resurgence of geopolitics and power competition is also posing concern. Together with populism and protectionism, they are poised to drag the world back to the kind of turbulence prevailed most of the last century. 

However, the real world rolls on. Science and technology revolution in the new frontiers calls for closer international coordination and risk management.

One of the driving forces of these changes is the current US administration’s behavior. Instead of acknowledging the errors in their strategy in the past two decades, which are the main reasons for many of their predicament, they blame globalization.

The world is faced with the tough choices of continuing globalization while improving its governance; or to fall into fragmentation. To work for a community of common future or to enter into new power fight.

The deterioration of China and the US relations has been faster than expected. The tense atmosphere is spilling over from trade to other areas. How it will play out in the end will have a profound impact on the world’s future.

Benefits of the US-China Trade War
Compared with many world powers, including Russia, China still needs to learn and accumulate experience in dealing with global issues. In this sense, this trade war also teaches the Chinese a very good lesson.
Follow the link
© 2018 Stephen B. Morton/AP

One deeper reason is that, the US believes that a strong China would inevitably challenge its world dominance, and the US must do something now before it’s too late. Is history repeating itself?

In connection with the challenges at the world level, China and the US also face two difficult choices: One, to “decouple” as some in the US is pushing for, leading to a divided world; or to continue growing in an integrated world economic system. Two, to allow escalation of tension lead to overall confrontation; or to try making adjustment and guide the relationship into coexistence.

We could see that some in the US side is trying to raise the bars to pressure China into choosing the confrontation path. But 40 years of interaction has nurtured deep connections and high complementarity in the two countries. Should “Decoupling” has to happen, it would take a protracted and painful process and the damage to each other and to the world is hard to predict.

Many in China have realized that the China-US relationship has arrived at a critical juncture. In the meantime, China’s economy is also under pressure due to the deleveraging and structural adjustment. The trade war has added new difficulties.

The Chinese society, though apprehensive, has not given up the hope of building partnership and seeing the world maintaining stability and healthy growth, and is willing to work for it.

So, China’s choice is to continue engaging the world, defending peace and promoting cooperation. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposition to build a community with shared future remains our guiding principle.

Toward Strategic Competition Between the US and China
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited China on 8 October, and heard sharp criticism of US policy during meetings with both Foreign Minister Wang Yi and senior statesman Yang Jiechi. The visit clarified how significantly US-China relations have deteriorated under President Donald Trump. China is not now the “leading” adversary of the US. China, Iran, and for most US officials – Russia, all pose challenges. But in recent months tensions with China have increased dramatically.
Follow the link
© Reuters

Regarding relations with the US, our first choice is dialogue and cooperation instead of confrontation. Even if there has to be competition in some areas, we agree that, it should be rule-based and fair, and benign in nature.

We should also work with Russia and other members of the international community to make sure that the world stays on the right track.

Meanwhile, we need to manage well our domestic affairs. This year marks the 40th anniversary of our reform and opening-up. China is moving faster in reform by easing market access restrictions, speeding up the opening of the financial services market, and cutting tariffs across the board to make the Chinese market more attractive.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.