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America and China: Destined for Conflict or Cooperation? We Asked 14 of the World's Most Renowned Experts

July 30, 2018 in Economics

By John Glaser

John Glaser

The future of the Sino-American relationship is deeply
uncertain.

Though the United States will remain at the top of the
international hierarchy for the foreseeable future, it is
undoubtedly experiencing relative decline, while China is
indisputably on the rise. The two titans of the 21st century
maintain an uneasy rapport, conscious of each other’s power,
suspicious of each other’s intentions, and covetous of the stature
that accompanies global supremacy.

In its approach to China over the past few decades, U.S.
leadership has oscillated between dismissive arrogance, sincere
cooperation and brazen competition.

Tragic foul-ups, like the Clinton administration’s accidental
bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the in-air collision
of a U.S. spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet early in the Bush
administration, are seen in Beijing as the hubristic blunders of an
intemperate bully. More deliberate taunts continue to this day,
exemplified by the Obama administration’s pointless opposition to
innocuous Chinese initiatives like the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank, overwrought anxiety toward the Belt and Road
Initiative and President Trump’s imperious trade war
ultimatums.

Many great powers
throughout history have let fixations about national prestige
thrust them into destructive wars.

Yet, on crucial diplomatic and security efforts, from the Six
Party Talks and the Paris climate accord to post-9/11
counterterrorism cooperation and the Iran nuclear deal, the United
States capitalized on overlapping interests while respecting
China’s position as a vital global player. Though less than
perfect, the bilateral economic relationship has been immensely
beneficial to both sides.

However, the U.S. approach at times appears to resemble outright
containment. The cutthroat geopolitical undertones of the so-called
Pivot to Asia were lost on no one. Washington’s attempts to counter
Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea have, if anything, hardened
China’s posture. And the Trump administration’s blunt
confrontational approach seems to have provoked even greater
distrust across the Pacific.

Rising powers must be managed carefully. China’s growing
strength will surely translate into a more ambitious foreign
policy, but how we deal with it is up to us.

So far, China shows no inclination toward aggressive territorial
conquest. Nor is it clear that a Chinese-led order would differ
much on the essentials than the U.S.-led order. Indeed, China’s
rise is more a threat to America’s status as the indispensable
nation than any tangible threat to national security.

Many great powers throughout history have let fixations about
national prestige thrust them into destructive wars. If the
Sino-American relationship is to remain peaceful, we must learn to
forfeit such superficial pretensions and focus on narrow, concrete
security and economic interests. Failure to do so may lock us into
a costly cold war that neither country can win.

John Glaser is
director of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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