|The Dragon and Eagle|
First the caution in the form of this article from the Economist profiling China's new attitude that they find dangerous and counterproductive to both China and the world.
WHAT has happened to the “harmonious world” that China’s president, Hu Jintao, once championed? Where is the charm offensive that was meant to underpin it? Recent revelations about its military programmes are the latest Chinese moves to have unsettled the world. Strip the charm from Chinese diplomacy and only the offensive is left. Sino-American relations are at their lowest ebb since a Chinese fighter collided with an American EP-3 spyplane a decade ago.
In this companion piece the Economist profiles President Hu's official state visit to Washington next week.
Read more:CHINA’S President Hu Jintao arrives in America on January 18th for a welcome at the White House, full of pomp and pageantry, that American presidents seldom lay on even for the closest of friends. After an unusually rocky year in their relations, both China and the United States hope for respite. But mutual wariness is growing, thanks not least to China’s hawkish army.
Another go at being friends
For how Americans view China comes these surprising poll results that perhaps reveal more about how little Americans really know about the economic and political tenor of the world. The Wall Street Journal's China Realtime Report filed this about the results of a Pew Research poll about how Americans precieved China's economic standing.
Which country is the world’s leading economic power?
Almost half of Americans (47%) think it’s China, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, while only 31% think the United States is still out front.
Game over. No wonder China comes out top in a list of countries representing the “greatest danger” to the U.S., just above North Korea — and well above Iran — in the same poll.
In fact, the U.S. economy is about three times the size of China’s in nominal terms, and its GDP per capita is roughly 10 times bigger. But when it comes to popular perceptions of China in America, those facts apparently don’t matter. Ahead of President Obama’s meeting next week with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, the one statistic everybody is looking at is the alarming unemployment rate, hovering just below 10%. For China, it’s around 4%.
Missed perceptions can lead to dangerous missteps that end up hurting both countries.Americans are worried about jobs, and China is widely perceived as stealing them, through mercantilist trade policies, an undervalued currency and other underhanded methods. The same poll finds that 53% of respondents think the U.S. should get tougher with China.
47% of Americans See China as No. 1
Finally Henry Kissinger, a voice of masterful reason and vision, scolds elites in both China and the United States for, "emphasizing conflict rather than cooperation." in this January 14th, article from the Washington Post.
Most Chinese I encounter outside of government, and some in government, seem convinced that the United States seeks to contain China and to constrict its rise. American strategic thinkers are calling attention to China's increasing global economic reach and the growing capability of its military forces.
Care must be taken lest both sides analyze themselves into self-fulfilling prophecies. The nature of globalization and the reach of modern technology oblige the United States and China to interact around the world. A Cold War between them would bring about an international choosing of sides, spreading disputes into internal politics of every region at a time when issues such as nuclear proliferation, the environment, energy and climate require a comprehensive global solution.
Conflict is not inherent in a nation's rise. The United States in the 20th century is an example of a state achieving eminence without conflict with the then-dominant countries. Nor was the often-cited German-British conflict inevitable. Thoughtless and provocative policies played a role in transforming European diplomacy into a zero-sum game.
Sino-U.S. relations need not take such a turn. On most contemporary issues, the two countries cooperate adequately; what the two countries lack is an overarching concept for their interaction. During the Cold War, a common adversary supplied the bond. Common concepts have not yet emerged from the multiplicity of new tasks facing a globalized world undergoing political, economic and technological upheaval.
Read more of this important article.That is not a simple matter. For it implies subordinating national aspirations to a vision of a global order.
Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war
Much of what Kissinger is saying is what geostrategist Thomas PM Barnett has been actively been working toward in cooperation with counterparts in China. There is a common thread of many of the same realities apparent in both Kissinger's article and in the Sino-American Grand Strategy Terms that has been profiled on this blog. Let us hope that over the next week, both Presidents find a way to be visionary, and in the words of Henry Kissinger.
The test of world order is the extent to which the contending can reassure each other. In the American-Chinese relationship, the overriding reality is that neither country will ever be able to dominate the other and that conflict between them would exhaust their societies. Can they find a conceptual framework to express this reality? A concept of a Pacific community could become an organizing principle of the 21st century to avoid the formation of blocs. For this, they need a consultative mechanism that permits the elaboration of common long-term objectives and coordinates the positions of the two countries at international conferences.
The aim should be to create a tradition of respect and cooperation so that the successors of leaders meeting now continue to see it in their interest to build an emerging world order as a joint enterprise.