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Peace dividend

The world would benefit from Washington being more calm and composed in face of contemporary global changes

By ZHU FENG | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-20 07:57
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The world would benefit from Washington being more calm and composed in face of contemporary global changes


The international order is undergoing a substantial reversal since the end of the Cold War as the geopolitical landscape witnesses new structural conflicts and confrontations. The rapid growth of the emerging markets and developing countries as a whole has given rise to a new historic trend of "the ascent of the East and the decline of the West".

Although the Western-centralism dominating the world since the era of exploration and the First Industrial Revolution is waning, the West is still more powerful than the East. The global geopolitical landscape faces a worsening situation in the forms of the protracted Ukraine-Russia crisis, great-power confrontation and conflicts, and the racial, religious and moral disputes over the Israel-Palestine conflict. Humanity is facing a tense situation unprecedented since the end of World War II.

In terms of geoeconomics, the competition among nations in the restructuring of supply chains, the development of the digital economy and infrastructure construction is growing increasingly fierce. Political and security factors are eroding and replacing the rules of globalization marked by openness, free competition and common development. The globalization trend of the world economy has suffered severe setbacks. This tendency has intensified since Joe Biden took office as US president, as his administration has been pursuing "de-sinicization" in the name of "de-risking".

To maintain its hegemony and preserve its narrow self-interests, the United States has been rallying support from its traditional allies in Europe and Asia to launch technology, trade, digital and market offensives against China by exploiting the US' edge in high-tech industries, and blocking normal cultural, social, education and media exchanges with China, which seriously undermines the open, cooperative and interdependent relations between China and the US and with the US allies.

In 2023, to cement its advantages in the industry and supply chains of high-tech fields such as microchips, quantum computing and artificial intelligence, the US has set obstacles to hinder China's technology trade and investment cooperation with Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Taiwan region of China and European countries and wooed leading manufactures from these regions to increase investment in the US by offering lucrative subsidies.

The US' politicizing of economic and trade issues with China and overstretching the concept of security have undermined the development process of the world in the post-Cold War era. As the China-US relationship has a profound influence on the development trend of the global political and economic landscapes, it is of paramount significance to view and handle the bilateral ties in a rational and objective manner.

To contain and suppress China, the US has been piecing together "small multilateral mechanisms". These "small multilateral mechanisms" are a continuation of the inherent logic of the hegemonic system led by the US, and also exclusive arrangements based on bigger multilateral systems to protect the security and economic interests of members within the blocs.

With the world caught in the protracted Ukraine crisis and worsening Israel-Palestine conflict, as well as a sluggish economic recovery, it is unlikely that major-power confrontation and regional hotspot issues will cool down in the coming years. Bloc confrontations are expected to escalate as the US, Europe and Japan are doubling down on forming exclusive geopolitical camps.

The risk of the Israel-Palestine conflict spilling over into a regional conflict has raised alarm among the international community. The war, which has entered the fifth month since its breakout, has sparked opposing emotions around the world, and severely disrupted the shipping and energy security in the Middle East. The conflict is polarizing people's attitudes and emotions across the world, and fueling both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment, which has triggered geopolitical turbulence and rising extremism worldwide.

Meanwhile, the attacks of Yemen's Houthi militants on ships passing through the Red Sea, and the consequent US retaliatory strikes against Houthi targets have aggravated the turmoil in the region. As a result, major shipping and oil companies have halted shipping services in the Red Sea, sending shockwaves across the global energy and shipping markets.

In this context, the Asia-Pacific region has become a geopolitical hotspot with the most complex situation. As Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Australia choose to join the US' "Indo-Pacific "strategy, the US system of alliances is clearly evolving into a bloc. While enhancing bilateral alliances, the US has been attempting to create a multilayered network of partners by forming the US-United Kingdom-Australia partnership, upgrading the quadrilateral security dialogue among the US, Japan, India and Australia (the Quad), promoting the transformation of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance into a military bloc and extending the tentacles of NATO into the Asia-Pacific region.

Its purpose is to accelerate the implementation of the "Indo-Pacific "strategy to contain China. By pursuing interventionism in diplomacy, politics and military, the US is taking more responsibility for its allies in East Asia, heightening the risk of military conflicts in the region. By bringing a new Cold War to the Asia-Pacific region, the US has emboldened Japan to amend its pacifist Constitution and to aggressively pursue a military buildup. Whether regional countries can respect China's sovereignty, stick to the one-China principle and stop intervening in the domestic affairs of China is the biggest challenge for East Asia to maintain stability and development after the Taiwan elections.

In a volatile world, China remains the most constructive and stable force in addressing global issues and conflicts. The meeting between the heads of states of China and the US in San Francisco demonstrated the two sides' willingness to manage their differences constructively. The rapidly aggravating geopolitical tensions should prompt the Biden administration to realize that its attempt to escalate bloc confrontation and preserve the dominance and monopoly interests of a few allied countries will damage the cooperative, inclusive and joint development of the global economy, worsen the fragmentation of the global governance system, and intensify geopolitical confrontation. China and the US need to assume their shared responsibility to maintain stability and development, and prevent the world from sliding into even more chaos.

The author is executive dean and a professor of the School of International Relations at Nanjing University. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

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