China, US as strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tors

The Pak Banker - - Editorial5 - Thomas P.M. Bar­nett

The word "war" has been ap­pear­ing in­creas­ingly in Amer­i­can de­bates about China, with the range of po­ten­tial venues ex­pand­ing with each new "in­tractable" is­sue that arises. Pile enough of these wooden sce­nar­ios atop one an­other, and even­tu­ally some­one will strike the match. There will al­ways be self-in­ter­ested par­ties ea­ger for con­fronta­tion, even though the two coun­tries' peo­ples seek noth­ing but peace­ful co­ex­is­tence.

To­day we share a world more pros­per­ous and more at peace than at any time in hu­man his­tory, so why are we on this un­de­sir­able path? Be­sides the Cold War and the legacy is­sues re­tained to this day (Tai­wan, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple's Re­pub­lic of Korea), there is no his­tor­i­cal en­mity be­tween our peo­ples. Since nei­ther sit­u­a­tion log­i­cally trig­gers di­rect mil­i­tary con­flict, all of our po­ten­tial con­flicts must be rec­og­nized as wars of choice. An ob­jec­tive ex­am­i­na­tion of glob­al­iza­tion's cur­rent state and fu­ture evo­lu­tion re­veals far more com­pli­men­tary in­ter­ests than con­flict­ing ones. As the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis re­vealed, China and the United States face shared dangers that must be elim­i­nated - whether we wel­come this joint re­spon­si­bil­ity or not. Nei­ther side's po­lit­i­cal sys­tem presents an ide­o­log­i­cal threat to the other. Each coun­try's in­ter­nal struc­tural chal­lenges are its own busi­ness or choice, and each will force evo­lu­tion at a pace its so­ci­ety can han­dle or de­mands. De­spite these cur­rent rum­blings, let me tell you why strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween China and the US is es­sen­tial. In the busi­ness world, com­pa­nies seek part­ner­ships when the pro­posed re­la­tion­ship is:

Crit­i­cal to a core goal of the en­ter­prise;

* To ex­ploit a core com­pe­tency; * To ef­fec­tively counter a com­pet­i­tive threat;

* To pro­vide flex­i­bil­ity re­gard­ing fu­ture choices; and

* To re­duces a sig­nif­i­cant risk.

The US' grand strat­egy for the past seven decades has been to cre­ate the glob­al­iza­tion we know to­day. Our firm be­lief be­ing that the world is a bet­ter and more pros­per­ous place when ev­ery­body has an "open door" on trade and in­vest­ment. This is how the United States of Amer­ica truly united.

Start­ing with Deng Xiaop­ing's his­toric re­form, China in­te­grated its econ­omy with that of the rest of the world, mark­ing the tip­ping point be­tween an in­ter­na­tional lib­eral trade or­der built on the West and find­ing com­ple­tion with the "rest". But China's par­tic­i­pa­tion comes at the cost of a dan­ger­ous re­source depen­dency far greater than the US has known. Over time, China's econ­omy will de­pend ever more on en­ergy and min­er­als. For now, the US es­sen­tially cov­ers that se­cu­rity risk through its global polic­ing role, but that ef­fort is un­sus­tain­able. For China to suc­ceed in its core goal of cre­at­ing a well-off so­ci­ety, glob­al­iza­tion must be si­mul­ta­ne­ously ad­vanced and sta­bi­lized.

Sino-US strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion plays to each nation's cur­rent core com­pe­ten­cies. China does not have a mil­i­tary with global reach, but the US has one now and it is deeply ex­pe­ri­enced. Yet the US forces strug­gle with nation build­ing, while Chi­nese multi­na­tion­als clearly excel at cre­at­ing in­fra­struc­ture, mar­kets and op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­come growth in de­vel­op­ing economies. China is also a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor of peace­keep­ing troops to the United Na­tions. To­day, as the pri­mary face of glob­al­iza­tion, the US is tar­geted by vir­tu­ally ev­ery threat mounted by the en­e­mies of global in­te­gra­tion and eco­nomic mod­ern­iza­tion. China has al­ready sur­passed the US as glob­al­iza­tion's pri­mary in­te­grat­ing force - and in­evitably its face too. Ir­re­spec­tive of China's in­tent, it will be­come the main tar­get of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists bent on keep­ing glob­al­iza­tion at bay. To­day the "long war" be­longs to the US; to­mor­row it will bur­den China. For years I have writ­ten of Washington's need to "lock in China at to­day's prices", mean­ing the cost of China's co­op­er­a­tion would rise with time. Back then I be­lieved that, with­out such co­op­er­a­tion, the US' strate­gic choices would nar­row con­sid­er­ably.

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