December 30th that the website of Time published an article entitled “No, the United States and China have not moved towards a new cold war” on December 28.
The author is Ian Bremer, president of the Eurasian Group of the United States. The full text is excerpted as follows:
Are the United States and China going to the next cold war in the world? Many people think so. After the turmoil of the past four years, it is no wonder they will think so.
Indeed, no country in the world poses a real challenge to the United States like China – whether it is short-term geopolitical competition or long-term survival challenges. But at present, I will not predict that China and the United States are going to a “new cold war”, for four main reasons:
First of all, in the debate of the “new cold war”, one key point has been ignored: the first cold war took place in the absence of an existing world order.
Unlike today, there was no mature multilateral institution (or deep-rooted multinational enterprises like today) to prevent the escalation of conflicts. By 2020, countries are more likely to seek to bet on both sides of the world’s two economic superpowers than to choose to bet on one of them.
This raises a second problem – the interdependence between the United States and China in 2020 is completely different from the interdependence between the United States and the Soviet Union in the middle of the 20th century. For the United States and the Soviet Union, their only real common interest is to avoid joint destruction caused by nuclear war.
Despite recent turmoil, China has been a huge economic beneficiary of the current world order; China does not seek to subvert the global order, but wants to open up more space in the global order to accommodate its primacy. In addition, China and the United States need to cooperate in many fields. These cooperations have been driven by the investment and relationship construction of key stakeholders of the two countries over the past decades, although these efforts have been severely tested in recent years.
Third point: China will not challenge the global military hegemony of the United States. This is an important difference from the first cold war. In that Cold War, although the Soviet Union was a military opponent of the United States, it was never its real economic opponent. No one really believes that China can also be defeated – in fact, economic destruction of China will also destroy the American economy.
This means that as the United States and China increase or decrease competition in a wide range of fields, and even cooperate in some areas, the best result that both sides can hope for is unstable peace. This did not pave the way for both sides to move towards a “new cold war”.
Finally, the policy limitations of China and the United States also need to be considered. Considering the actual goals of the two countries, entering a real cold war would be a huge strategic mistake and must be avoided at all costs.
The United States does not seek to expand its international influence, but wants to do less on the international stage; this is exactly the opposite of what it is needed to launch a cold war against China.
This does not mean that there is no real danger or difference between China and the United States. The fundamental technological decoupling between China and the United States will continue, and the space for cooperation will be further reduced.
But none of these point to the kind of zero-sum cold war we saw in the 20th century – the kind of ideological differences that forced the rest of the world to choose sides and depleted everything.
There are too many structural obstacles that will prevent this from happening. As we approach 2021, there are many issues that need our attention