Beijing must be prepared for the demise of the original framework of engaging Washington, and the volatility of the relationship that follows. It should consider a return to Deng Xiaoping’s original admonition to curb its global ambitions, and re-evaluate the entire Belt and Road Initiative, writes Valdai Club expert Xiang Lanxin.
Is a New Cold War looming?
Up until recently, Beijing had considered the greater Eurasian region to be a safe conduit for China’s entry into global competition with the United States. Improved relations with other developing powers are always central to China’s long-term goals. China has been active in a ‘Eurasian process’, pursuing a nuanced version of functional multi-polarity in Eurasia to reduce tensions with the United States and at the same time consolidate relations with Russia. It is an ambitious project, given that global cooperation has eluded both Washington and Moscow for decades despite the end of the Cold War. However, one must ask if China’s newly-acquired ‘Eurasian footprint’ is sustainable if the US-China relationship becomes worse than the one between Moscow and Washington. In other words, will China’s Eurasian strategy allow the country to become a leading power while avoiding the same security dilemmas and pitfalls that have accompanied other global power transitions in world history?