Expertly researched article, really worth reading.
The Future of U.S.-China Relations Under Xi Jinping: Toward a New Framework of Constructive Realism for a Common Purpose
The future relationship between China and the United States is one of the mega-changes and mega-challenges of our age. China’s rise is the geopolitical equivalent of the melting polar ice caps – gradual change on a massive scale that can suddenly lead to dramatic turns of events.
In this Summary Report of a longer forthcoming work, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center, asks if this defining trend of the 21st century can be managed peacefully. He argues that it can – if Washington and Beijing commit to placing their relationship on a stable, long-term footing.
Rudd’s findings emerge from a major study he led at the Belfer Center on the possibilities and impacts of a new strategic relationship between China and the United States.
The choice is stark: Either China and America will author a common narrative of mutually beneficial achievements, or they will drift toward conflict. While the likelihood of near-term conflict is low, leaders on both sides of the Pacific are well aware of “Thucydides’ Trap,” the historical pattern of conflict when rising powers rival ruling ones.
Avoiding that trap means answering key questions about U.S.-China relations:
- Is China’s economic rise sustainable?
- How will China exert power differently under Xi Jinping?
- What does Beijing regard as Washington’s grand strategy toward China – and vice versa?
- What are the risks of armed conflict?
- How will China’s growing clout impact the regional and global order?
- Can both sides develop a common strategic narrative?
There is no deficit of analysis about these issues. The purpose of this report is to help policymakers synthesize that analysis to better anticipate and respond to one of the great challenges of our day.
As to whether recommendations contained within this report are adopted by the two governments is a matter for them. The report argues that a new conceptual framework for the relationship is necessary that is capable of embracing, simultaneously, apparently intractable problems with real opportunities for policy progress in difficult areas, without one becoming permanently hostage to the other. The report also argues for the evolution over time of a substantive sense of common purpose for the relationship centered around the idea of preserving and reforming a functioning global order for the future, as opposed to the incremental drift toward the absence of order and the emergence of chaos. Finally, the report argues for a partial reform of the bilateral machinery of the relationship in order to achieve the above. The last two years of President Obama’s second term, and the rapid consolidation of President Xi Jinping’s political authority during his first term, provide a unique political opportunity to place the U.S.-China relationship on a stable, mutually beneficial long-term footing.
There is a range of different scenarios for U.S.-China relations. The difficulty lies in the fact that these are very much shaped by different assumptions, different variables and their interaction with one another. Nonetheless, given what we know, a number of broad scenarios suggest themselves for the decade ahead.
First, we can imagine a cooperative scenario in which the dynamics of an increasingly globalized economy, and growing interdependencies between the United States and China across multiple policy domains, encourage both leaderships to: avoid any possibility of armed conflict; focus on their respective domestic policy priorities; and maintain a geopolitical status quo in the region. This scenario could also feature more concerted action on individual global challenges like climate change.
A second more collaborative scenario is possible, one which resembles a more ambitious and activist version of the first scenario above. In this, both Beijing and Washington conclude that, in order to deal with a range of underlying, structural difficulties in the relationship, they must not only manage their differences, but also collaborate in difficult policy domains to resolve them. This might include: a bilateral or multilateral agreement on cyber security; an agreed strategy on North Korea with the objective of achieving the denuclearization of the peninsula; and a joint determination to rejuvenate the G20.
Third, a competitive scenario in which fundamental differences are managed, but not resolved. In this case, China and the United States would compete for strategic influence across Asia and around the world, with both sides accelerating their military preparedness to guard against the possibility of long-term conflict.
Fourth, a confrontational scenario, which sees Asia dividing between groupings increasingly aligned to either Beijing or Washington because creative ambiguity on both security and economic issues on the part of regional states is no longer tenable. In such a scenario, incidents in the East and South China seas would increase and escalate to the point that conflict between China and a regional friend or ally of the United States would become increasingly conceivable. A fully internationalized RMB would begin to challenge the privileged status of the USD as one of a number of global reserve currencies. Globally, the contest between China and the United States would become increasingly ideological between their respective democratic capitalist and state capitalist models.
Fifth, and last of all, there is the implosion scenario. In this hypothetical future, political tensions and structural economic imbalances within the Chinese system would ultimately fracture, causing China to comprehensively and radically adjust its national development strategy. This report does not regard this outcome as a credible possibility.
National political leadership in both Beijing and Washington, and the leadership they choose to deliver to the future direction of their bilateral relationship, can have a major, and possibly decisive, effect on which of these scenarios, or blend of scenarios, becomes the more probable. There is nothing determinist about the future relationship between China and the United States. It is a matter for leaders to decide on an approach, and to execute it, either con-jointly or separately. That is why the narrative they use to describe their relationship to each other, and to their respective political constituencies, is important. And that is where the current U.S.-China relationship is lacking.
This report has focused on one such possible scenario for the future (namely the second scenario), and how it might in practical terms be brought about. If a new approach of “Constructive Realism for a Common Purpose” is to have any real chance of success, it will require a change in the political psychology or the “way of thinking” of the relationship. As noted above, the Chinese call this “siwei.” At present, the “siwei” between the two is overwhelmingly “realist” to the point that it is almost Hobbesian in its fatalism. The Chinese equivalent would be to run international relations according to the most pessimistic tradition of the “Legalist” (fajia 法家). This permanently assumes the worst of the other party and over time becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The report does not argue for the abandonment of skepticism in international relations. In fact, it argues for the retention of a realist premise concerning the hard security issues that currently separate the U.S. and China and will continue to do so for a considerable time. However, the report also argues that we should leaven the realist loaf with a level of constructive cooperation at multiple levels to build strategic trust over time. This will not require the wholesale abandonment of traditional strategic thinking or “siwei.” But it will require an adjustment to allow for the possibilities of constructive engagement changing deeply grounded strategic mindsets over time.
The report also departs from traditional strategic thinking in another way. At one level, there is a debate in the international community today about the type of global order we would like for the future: minimalist, maximalist global governance, realist, liberal internationalist, so-called “variable geometry,” etc. This seems to miss the point in the present international environment. We may no longer have the luxury of a sumptuous global smorgasbord of options to choose from. In truth, we now find ourselves confronted by multiple external challenges to an international order of any description. The enemies of “order” are there for all those with eyes to see:
• Violent, global jihadism seeking to destroy the very notion of secular states or any society of states;
• New weapons of mass destruction in the form of cyber terrorism, cyber crime and state-based cyber attack against critical infrastructure;
• A new generation of global pandemics;
• Existential threats to the planet through irreversible climate change; and
• Associated crises in food, water and basic energy supply.
These are attacks against “order” itself. They should, as a matter of both reason and emotion, cause states to conclude that whatever differences they have between them, these are now smaller than the common threats we now face together as a society of states and our U.S.-China 21: The Future of U.S.-China Relations Under Xi Jinping common need to defend the order itself. This should particularly apply to both the United States and China, given their respective levels of national vulnerability to all the above, as well as their sense of responsibility to other members of the international community. It is this consciousness, driven by the realities of globalization and interconnectedness, and the opportunities and now extreme vulnerabilities that arise from the same, that form a rational basis for at least some change in the traditional American and Chinese strategic mindsets or “siwei.” And that is the ultimate basis for the type of “Constructive Realism for a Common Purpose” recommended in this report for the two most powerful countries in the world today, who now share unique responsibilities on behalf of us all. In other words, to work together to defend and strengthen “an order” against those forces, political, climatological or biological, that would destroy order altogether.
These are noteworthy and serious expert opinions regarding Trump’s project of a Border Wall.
Fact is that the highest military officer of the United States has pronounced himself clearly against Clinton’s idea of a no-fly zone over Syria which she said she would immediately enact after being president, while back in 2013 she has said about the same idea:
—A no-fly zone over Syria would mean the death of uncountable Syrians.
It is not the first time that Clinton changed her opinions so drastically, for as we all know, her husband did the same.
So Trump has just repeated what this high military officer said which in summary is:
—A no-fly zone over Syria implicitly compels the Russians to back off in Syria for protecting the Assad regime. This would clearly be a cause of WW3.
If we follow what Putin said over the last 2 years or so, this is absolutely correct and realistic as an assessment.
Also see that President Obama voiced criticism at Clinton and a no-fly zone fully identifying with the statement of the military commander as a realistic assessment of today’s political reality.
As always, the solution is easy but it’s habitual thinking, ingrained habits and grandiloquous strategies that prevent easy solution from manifesting in political life around the globe.
The United States and Nato need to declare a change of strategy in Syria to make a compromise with Russia that will have positive consequences for all parties involved. They have to back down with the intention to oust the Assad regime. That’s the only and quite easy-to-do concession they have to make in order to gain Russia’s collaboration, and it’s so much the more appealing to me as it is in full conformity with international law. Why?
To oust a regime or a sovereign state is always critical under Article II, 2 United Nations Charter for it represents an interference in the internal affairs of a foreign sovereign state. Humanitarian considerations are on a different plane, they are not under presently valid international law a cause for ousting a regime without violating the basic foundation of international law which is the principle of sovereignty.
I have clearly stated in my books that sovereignty is an outdated and peace-impeaching paradigm but it is unfortunately still our current world order.
So as this is still the basic principle of international law, Nato was from the start wrong with the idea of ousting the Assad regime and Russia was from the start right in wanting to not interfere—but they are of course not right in terms of the humanitarian agenda when it goes to practically defend that regime. Here is where Putin, too, overstepped the line.
Thus, as both parties could admit their mistakes, a basic line of cooperation is to make out on which Trump and Putin could agree. And honestly, my intuition tells me they WILL agree on that if against all the odds Trump is elected.
See what I predicted back in August 13:
Tensions between Washington and Moscow have plunged to Cold War levels in recent weeks after US ended talks on how to approach the war in Syria.
Since the breakdown between the global superpowers, the Kremlin has vowed to shoot down any American fighter planes that attack President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria.
And now Turkey’s deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus has warned: “If this proxy war continues, after this, let me be clear, America and Russia will come to a point of war.”
If this happens, it will be the official start of WW3.
By the way, this was predicted by a high-ranking American military officer, months ago. He put it in these terms:
We are not sure where Putin will attack, but we are sure he will use the interim to the Presidential Elections in the United States for gaining more territory through a surprise attack, namely when the public in the United States is wary of war and focused upon the outcome of the elections. This will then put the new American President in front of a fait accompli.
(Quoted from Memory)
Where is the Great Dictator now, after having put dirt on all and everybody, after having tweeted everybody to hell, after having told Europe it’s in a mess with crime all over and a chaos, after having told Mexico to prepare for a big wall to look at and the Pope that a Trump doesn’t take criticism even from the highest religious authority, after having threatened Clinton and many others with law suits?
Where is the Great Poker Player now, and where are his trumps? He was always so brilliant in business and now needs to compliment Vladimir Putin to be a ‘great leader’ to gain some respect from abroad?
Where is the Great Military Leader now who said that ISIS is a problem for school boys for ‘I will bomb the hell out of them and that will solve the problem once for all.’
Where is the Great Peace Maker who admittedly is a great negotiator in business deals, and who recently voiced ‘why should we refrain from using nukes’ to make an end to ISIS? I can’t see the reason.’
Where is the Great Rhetoric who tells Obama that he has no charisma while Obama according to thousands of experts in public speaking around the world has been said to be one of the most gifted public speakers in all of human history? And this brilliance is impossible without having charisma! (I am sure that even Hillary Clinton will agree with this statement).
Where is the Great Statesman who wants to lead America into new peace and prosperity, and not just that, into ‘Making America Great Again?’ Who can say that America is *not* great now? And why? What about seeing this simply as ‘fabricated truth’ or ‘fabricated consent’ in the sense this term was coined by Noam Chomsky?
Where is the Great Winner who said in all his books ‘never give up’ and now begins to see reality, saying, he can ‘after all’ lose the campaign without tears, going back to his ‘good life’ with a ‘good family’ and play ‘good golf’ after such an after all very stressful outpost of his usual business activity.
Ever thought, Mr. Trump, that your predictable defeat in the national elections will have some serious repercussions upon your business?
For political observers, it is obvious that what is underlying, not what is apparent, is what moves states into certain actions, and avoid certain other actions. In other words, when you see the world only under the political lupe, you see it wrongly.
States, as human beings, are motivated by hidden agendas, by underlying motives, and by psychological reasons.
The obvious is in stark conflict with the rational mind when we see Putin and Erdogan heading into an unprecedented, while still premature, brotherhood. And while the political spectrum seems to be in conflict with this ‘defense solution,’ this is only so on the surface of things.
Turkey belongs to Nato and thus would have to be considered as an ‘enemy’ by Russia. The incident of downing a Russian warplane by the Turkish air force in 2015 gave another apparent reason that this had to be so. But it was not so. This ‘conflict’ was simply the confrontation of two thick-headed statesmen but it had no implications for the long term relationship between the two countries.
So what? Why are the two military giants approaching each other again in a most friendly manner and coordinate their military strategies?
The reasons are not political, or only randomly political, for they are mainly psychological. Both countries have hidden ethnic cleasing agendas the West rightly opposes to, both countries have modern militaries and are basically aggressive-minded in their international policies, both countries favor a strong-man leadership backed by ruthless police surveillance and a more or less total crackdown on free media. Thus both nations foster dictatorial regimes that are set to eat up more and more segments of their populations by large-scale state propaganda.
Thus, both nations are basically anti-democratic in their base setup and this will get worse over time, as a matter of internal dynamics in every dictatorial and freedom-hostile regime. But this is precisely what unites them in a front now, which could be called a ‘red front’ — and attentive readers may well remember the clear predictions by Nostradamus who said the great and final Armageddon—also called WW3— would start with an alliance between Turkey and Russia, based upon orthodox religions and against Roman Catholicism as practiced by the freedom-loving West.
It would be naive to believe that this amalgam of power, ruthless state doctrine, anti-democracy and fascism would not attract extremist forces and mercenaries on their side. That means that these regimes will be increasingly sympathetic to extremist forces in the Middle East, in Russia, and in Turkey, and wherever else in the world. This is simply so, as a matter of natural law, as like attracts like.
In other words and to summarize, we are presently in a phase of psychological warfare where the pacts or blocks are forming and evolving that later will represent the opponents in real war. Besides, military and political history clearly shows that during phases of fascist supremacy and the oppression of free press, together with endless ‘crackdowns’ on opponents (or imagined opponents), nations split up and become politically polarized, which means that strong and sometimes deadly opposition forces are set into place and fueled by hatred and contradiction, and ultimately, by feelings of humiliation!
The result of that process is civil war, and this is the reason why wars all through human history seldom are clean ring fights, for civil wars are often cross-border and make for chaotic—and often temporary—alliances that further disrupt the already freakish trust-building between superpowers.
China, which is a country that still today has not implemented the rule of law and that persecutes freedom-affirming local and foreign journalists, is likely to be on the line of this psychological setup that can be summarized as the putting on stage of new state oligarchies that coordinate their efforts on a less than official level in order to gain worldpower, even if this power then has to be shared among three parties.
But where is the United States in this picture, where is Europe, where is Japan? These are the burning questions that I leave to your own psychological and political IQ to answer. When you know you have asked the right questions, you know you will get the right answers.
Let me only mention one tiny detail in a very complex picture. Now Europe is not only dependent on Russian gas, it is also dependent on Turkish gas. See that on a timeline into the future, and where this dependency possibly can lead to.
Or take the recent selling out of Europe by Angela Merkel’s 6 billion dollar deal with Turkey that was equally, again psychologically speaking, a humiliation for freedom-loving Europe as Amnesty International and many international lawyers have condemned this pact as anti-human rights. That it won’t work out anyway, nobody really cares, the refugees are in the same mess as before, the deal will go overboard, and with it, many newly arriving refugees, as the numbers are rising against all predictions to the contrary. And Angela Merkel has less chances to be re-elected, thereby creating a political gap that will be filled with a center-right coalition, probably headed by Frauke Petry, the head of the new right-wing populist party ‘Alternative for Germany.’
There is real danger that this ‘alternative’ will be the last one for Germany for in state controlled regimes there are notoriously no alternatives and in populist psychology there is always only ‘one solution.’ And because life is infinitely complex, this kind of political psychology must lead to anti-life ideologies and lots of violence and chaos.
This is the beginning of WW3 as I predicted it already last year. And it’s in total alignment with the predictions of Nostradamus.
The Turkey-Russia alliance will be iron-strong and when China backs it up, America is toasted!
In this article from The Japan News, it is said very clearly:
The easing of tensions between the two nations can be a positive move conducive to preventing the regional situation from becoming complicated. What is worrying is that the rapid formation of a closer relationship between the two countries noticeably points to their ulterior motive of restraining the United States and European nations.
Behold, this is not popular knowledge, as most people still believe that Turkey is backed by the US. Superseded! The US top level has given clear signals that it no longer backs ‘islamistic’ Turkey, a country that runs at high speed against democracy, by practicing torture large-scale and now at the brink of re-instituting the death penalty.
The claims of Turkey they were not intending to build a new ‘axis’ through their alliance with Russia are just eye-wiping. It is typical for states to deny what they most intend to do, especially in the beginning stages of a new pact.
That also has drastic consequences in Europe, in the sense that Turkey has disqualified itself to become EU member. The door is closed now because EU law is punitive toward these two factors—torture and death penalty—because they are anti-human rights.
I said earlier in this blog that Angela Merkel has sold out Europe by making the contract with Turkey regarding refugee reflow. I predicted that it won’t work out, and it doesn’t—apart from that, it’s against human rights regulations according to Amnesty International.
Relationships between Turkey and Germany have deteriorated ever since and are right now at a breaking point. Turkey’s top team has repeatedly slammed Germany and Angela Merkel over the last weeks. Fact is that the EU will not grant Turkey the Schengen access (free visa travel), and the numbers of Turkish refugees to Germany have doubled just recently. Germany will thus remain the one single nation on earth that gives a refuge to the Kurds, and this role will be increasingly important.
Erdogan will be backed by Putin in his ethnic cleansing strategies—which is the same what Putin does with the Tchechen—and his cementing his family clan into a strong leadership that will be dictatorial in every respect.
Turkey has a very strong and well-trained military—so has Russia! Even if China doesn’t back or join, the alliance between Turkey and Russia as a ‘defense strategy’ is a red flag that cannot be ignored!