Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, December 26, 2003

Will China's rise trigger Sino-US confrontation?

John J. Mearsheimer, professor of political science of Chicago University said that as China is gaining rapid development in the economic field, whereas the United States cannot tolerate the existence of rival that maches it in force, the result will be fierce and dangerous competition for security which is similar to the confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War period. But this writer thinks this view is open to discussion.


At the invitation of the Global Times, John J. Mearsheimer, professor of political science of Chicago University, on November this year had a dialog with Professor Qin Yaqing, vice-president with the Foreign Affairs Institute on big powers' political issues. While predicting Sino-US relations in the next 20 to 50 years, Mearsheimer said that China is gaining rapid development in the economic field, whereas the United States cannot tolerate the existence of rival that maches it in force. The result will be fierce and dangerous competition for security, such competition is similar to the confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War period. But this writer thinks this view is open to discussion.

The main shortcoming of this view is that it fails to notice the unprecedented changes that have taken place in today's world. It is these changes that have created the possibility and necessity for cooperation between the world's powers amid their confrontation. The key factors for these changes are economic globalization and the accompanying progress of science and technology. After World War II, science and technology have developed by leaps and bounds and productive forces have experienced unprecedented growth, thus giving rise to a series of changes in the world economic relations and international relationship, including ties between big powers. It was these changes that have prevented big powers from "taking the crooked way of repeating historical disputes."

First, after World War II, there appeared the "third sci-tech revolution" as indicated mainly by computer technology, electronic energy technology and space technology. Since 1985, marked by software development and large-scale industrialization, humankind has entered a new era of information revolution. The swift and vigorous science and technology development have raised productivity by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of times.

The big bourgeoisie in capitalist countries have reaped huge amounts of exorbitant profits from the dramatic rise in labor productivity. The annual evaluation report of the global rich and powerful people released by Thames Sunday in early 2001 showed that five out of the first 10 richest in the world are engaged in software and computer production. Tycoons in major capitalist countries are hunting for their interests with their own economic strength powered by science and technology. By relying on the enormous economic strength formed by scientific and technological progress, the big bourgeoisie in major capitalist countries reaped profits worldwide, they do not need to grab colonies or expand territory as colonialist and imperialist powers did in history, and so will not spark fierce conflicts or even leading to world war. China is a developing socialist country whose production aims to meet people's growing material and cultural needs, it does not seek hegemony or outward expansion, still less to engage

in confrontation with the United States in this regard.

Second, with enormous rise in productive forces and due to the fact that the big bourgeoisie of the capitalist countries and their politicians, who drew a lesson from the Great Depression in the 1930s, adopted many measures to regulate economic activities, for instance, the macro-control means such as finance, interest rate and taxation, What's more, they constantly effected a change from labor-intensive industries to capital- and technology-intensive industries and then to high-tech and high value-added industries, as a result, although economic recession still appeared in this or that country, except individual cases, their economies, however, rapidly headed toward recovery and prosperity, Great Depression of the 1930s type did not appear after war, nor had there been fanatic fascist war forces as had there been in Germany, Italy and Japan after World War II.

Take the situation in the United States in the last 10 years of the 20th century for example. The economic periodic, phased characteristics had been obviously faded away, its economic self-regulating capability had been greatly enhanced. In the past three years, the US economy was once stagnant, after measures such as the lowering of interest rate and drastic tax-cut were adopted by the US government, the country's economic growth rate has been notably quickened. The requirement for ridding of the economic crisis through war did not arise in the capitalist countries.

Third, through high progressive tax and other methods, US and European capitalist countries take out part of the super profits gained by the big bourgeoisie for redistribution, for improvement of social welfare and harmony of class contradiction. Many European countries which are or once were under the rule of the social democratic party generally put exclusive stress on material benefits, the social welfare of the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, and Singapore also greatly improved, capitalist countries enjoyed relatively social stability, whereas before World War II, there were the Great Depression of Economy, the unemployment of large batches of workers who were unable to eke out a living.

Hitler cheated the people with national socialism, boasting that only he himself could save Germany and form the Nazi Party, he found from reportage a way out for arms expansion and invasions of other countries, thus provoking World War II. Over the past more than 50 years after the war, no such great panic has appeared in Western countries and there was thus no soil for fascist rampage. In Japan, the United States and West European countries, some Right-wing organizations stirred up troubles from time to time, but that didn't amount to anything. The people in big capitalist countries universally oppose war and demand peace. China is a peace-loving country and the Chinese people long for a peaceful world environment for economic development. So there is no social basis for China-US confrontation.

Fourth, along with hi-tech development, the number of transnationals has increased day by day, the development process of economic globalization has been quickened, mutual investment among major world powers has multiplied, forming a situation in which there is something of each in the other. Particularly with the arrival of the information era, the world has become increasingly small and nations are getting nearer to each other. Economic links between nations, especially between big countries, have become closer, Production elements are circulating worldwide, interaction and interdependence relationship has taken shape economically among various big countries.

After World War II, the United States and other major capitalist countries drew a lesson from World War II and initiated the establishment of the "General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade" GATT, now WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank (WB). The "three pillars" that supported the world economy established an open trade regime and created a stable monetary exchange system. These, plus the Seven -Nation Summit, or G7 (now G8) mechanism, reconciled the economic contradictions among big powers. Trade frictions, though endless, did not run out of control.

As far as China and the United States are concerned, the United States is the biggest developed country in the world, while China is the largest developing country, the two countries' economy and trade are of strongly mutual benefit, with great development potential.

After China's entry into the WTO, Sino-US economic and trade cooperation continued to maintain the good momentum of sustained and rapid development. According to China's statistics, in the trade field, Sino-US trade volume reached US$102.48 billion in the first 10 months this year, up 30.7 percent year on year. Of which China's imports from the United States hit US$27.56 billion, a rise of 25.7 percent over the same period last year.

In the investment field, the United States newly added 3308 projects in China between January and October, up 22.5 percent year on year, Chinese enterprises' investment in America also increased. According to statistics from the US Department of Commerce, the growth rate of US exports to China reached 18.5 percent in the first nine months of this year, far exceeding the growth of its exports to other main trade partners. China has now become America's fourth largest trade partner and will possibly rise to the third place by the end of this year, the United States is China's second largest trade partner.

America's exports to China create 500,000 high-salary job opportunities for the United States each year, China's cheap and good commodities have helped US consumers save expenditures to the tune of US$20 billion each year. Besides achieving positive growth in bilateral trade, the two countries also maintain close consultations and dialogs on economic and financial questions and conduct fruitful coordination and cooperation within such multilateral frameworks as the WTO and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization). The development of Sino-US economic and trade contacts is a "win, win" result, bringing solid benefits to the two peoples.

As Mersheimer pointed out, the United States cannot tolerate any rivals of its match, but compared with the United States, China lags far behind in strength whether in terms of science and technology, economy and military. China's present GDP is only one-ninth of the United States', and China's nuclear weaponry is only an odd of that of the United States. As for the saying that competition between China and the United States is "similar to the confrontation between Moscow and Washington during the Cold War", we cannot agree to this saying.

Zhang Yijun, an expert on international issues, once in his article made a comparison between Sino-US relations and US-Soviet relations. He noted that at that time the United States and the Soviet Union were both superpowers, and both had military strength and overall national strength which were greater than other big countries' strengths added together. While China is still a developing country, and the strengths of the two sides are unmatched, China's strength is only for self-defense and it is not in a position to make an all-round confrontation with the United States.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union had the ambition to assume hegemony, the two powers contended for world domination, China does not seek hegemony, nor does it have spheres of influence, it simply has no intention to contend for hegemony with the United States; the two camps of the United States and the Soviet Union not only confronted each other politically and militarily, and economically they were divided into two isolated markets, whereas China has set up a socialist market economy and has merged itself into the international trade system dominated by developed countries of the West; the United States and the Soviet Union both had a strong tradition of expansionism, while historically China had many opportunities for expansion, but it had not made much use of them to establish any sort of colonial empire, today's China has not the least intention of expansion.

As two large, influential countries in the world, China and the United States shoulder important responsibilities in many fields, such as safeguarding Asia-Pacific and world peace and stability, promoting global economic growth and prosperity as well as attacking terrorism and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

(The above article relayed from the China Economic Times was written by Zhou Yihuang and translated by PD Online)

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