When US President Joe Biden recently proclaimed at the UN that the United States “is not looking for a new cold war,” many countries must have felt a sense of relief. But with his words still ringing, the United States decided to replenish AUKUS, improve the Quad, and improve the Five Eyes.
During the Cold War, the two sides barely or needed trade with each other, and fought fiercely as each other’s nemesis. This is certainly not the case today. In today’s globalized world, it doesn’t make sense if the United States sticks to a Cold War-style manual, and in particular, presents China as the adversary:
First, China and the United States form an indivisible community with common interests. Despite U.S. attempts to decoupling and disrupting supply chains and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, two-way trade still grew by 8.8% in 2020. And in the first eight months of this year , bilateral trade reached $ 470 billion, up 36.6% year-on-year.
Second, China’s development is not aimed at supplanting other countries but at improving the well-being of its people. What the Chinese people are looking for is a peaceful and prosperous life, not world domination. On the government side, resources are mainly spent on development and policies are deployed to uplift the nation and improve the lives of every Chinese. What occupies the weekly meetings of the State Council is to respond to the real and immediate concerns of Chinese businesses and citizens.
Third, China stands for true multilateralism. Over the past 70 years, China has consistently lived up to its word. It has never started a war or taken an inch of foreign land, and it is the only major country to enshrine peaceful development in its constitution. In its response to COVID, China provided more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccines to the world. As part of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative so poorer countries can cope with the pandemic, China has postponed more loan repayments than other G20 members. Recently, China hosted COP 15 on biodiversity and the United Nations World Conference on Sustainable Transport to facilitate a global transition to green and low-carbon development. China is also playing a unique and constructive role on important issues, such as Afghanistan, Iran and the Korean Peninsula, in order to preserve regional peace and stability.
It is said that the United States needs some kind of enemy to mobilize the nation, but China is not “the enemy”. As two great countries of the world, China and the United States should help each other rather than fight. Nationally and internationally, much could be achieved with a China-US relationship back on track.
The Biden administration faces many national priorities, such as COVID-19, economic recovery, and infrastructure. These are areas where the two countries could be teammates and partners and bilateral cooperation could be of crucial importance. Leveraging complementarity rather than wasting time and resources in a so-called ideological battle will cause the United States to achieve its goals sooner.
For many global problems, there can be no global solution without some degree of Sino-US cooperation. Instead of politicizing and arming the search for origins, collaboration for global access to vaccines would end this pandemic better and faster. When it comes to climate change, it makes more sense to recognize what China has done and is doing now. Its peak carbon and carbon neutrality targets will not be easy to achieve, and achieving them requires laborious efforts. Besides announcing that it will not build new overseas coal-fired power projects, China has already mobilized the whole country to work towards “double carbon” goals.
In the face of a global pandemic, what humanity needs is a community of destiny, not the survival of the fittest. The kind of world we leave for future generations does not depend on the sophistication of weapons but on the strength of the ecosystem, not wars and conflicts but peace and harmony.
In a 2015 Hollywood blockbuster movie, The Martian, NASA, and the China National Space Administration worked together to get the astronaut back to Earth. Maybe it’s time to ditch the playbook of those Cold War-style spy movies and replace it with The Martian. It can give this world a greater chance for success.
The author is a Beijing-based international affairs observer.
Opinions do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.