There have been debates of whether China and the US have entered a new cold war, and there has been much hype of a potential hot war between the two major powers. Is there a real risk that bilateral relations will descend into war? During the Boao Forum for Asia in South China’s Hainan Province recently, China-US relations were high on the agenda. ‘Global Times’ interviewed Graham Allison on the sidelines of the Forum. Allison is author of ‘Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?’ and the professor at the Harvard Kennedy school. He said in particular:
– The reason why there will not be a cold war between the US and China, simply a repeat of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, is that both China and the US are backbones of the global economy. Therefore, any effort to create a new economic iron curtain and force other countries to choose this side or that side will not work. Even though some Americans may write a paper, saying this is what we aspire to, it’s going to happen, this is not realistic.
– China and the US are so entangled in so many different ways that most of the talk about so-called deglobalization or divorce is simply not feasible.
– In preventing war, for example, some incident in Taiwan that one party reacts to another and then miscalculations and misjudgments and at the end of this process, the US and China at war, and that war escalates to nuclear war. Each of us clearly understands that if we really had a war, a full-scale war, it would be suicide. So neither government is suicidal, and since we would never choose a war, we have to be cautious about choices that could trigger a spiral that ends in a war.
– Meanwhile, how to survive in an enclosed biosphere in which each of our greenhouse gas emissions can make it so disrupted that neither of us can live in it. In the 20th century, nobody ever knew that. But today we know that. We have to find a way to cooperate in constraining greenhouse gases. Again, for my survival. It’s also for you and for the World. So, Survival is very powerful motivator.
– The reason why President Biden or National security adviser Sullivan or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley, all the people have talked about war over Taiwan is not because they want a war. If there’s a war with China, it could destroy everything.
– If anyone who came to them and said, were you proposing a war with China? They would say you’re out of your mind. We are not going to have a war with China. We’re also not going to have a full-scale war with Russia. For President Biden – ‘my first job is America’s survival’. If I were to have a war, I fail in my first job.
– You got the dynamics of American politics, which are now fairly crazy. There’s very sharp divide between Republicans and Democrats, but there’s a bipartisan consensus that we have to be tough on China.
– The US and China need to get back to serious, private, candid conversations.