Interview: Renowned economist highlights vast common interests between China, U.S.

(Xinhua) 10:09, March 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, March 18 (Xinhua) -- China and the United States have a lot of common interests, and the relationship between the two "huge, complex" countries needs to grow "on a systematic basis," a renowned U.S. economist has said.

"China and the United States have a huge amount of common interests. We need to protect the planet. We need to stop the pandemic," Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, told Xinhua in a recent remote interview.

Referring to their common aspirations for peace, Sachs said, "I believe that we need good cooperation between China and the United States."

In an opinion piece published in late February, the economist, who is also a senior United Nations (UN) advisor, said that U.S. President Joe Biden's China policy "should begin with a search for cooperation rather than a presumption of conflict."

"Cooperation is not cowardice as American conservatives repeatedly claim," he said. "Both the United States and China have much to gain from it."

Noting that under the Biden administration, the United States is returning to multilateralism, Sachs said he hopes that the "harsh talk and the antagonism will be put aside."

Calling himself a "huge fan of the United Nations," Sachs said if both China and the United States follow the UN Charter and build more effective UN institutions, "this is the most important gift for global peace we could have."

On technology, Sachs said competition itself is "healthy," but it's not healthy when the United States attacks Chinese companies such as Huawei, or prevents semiconductor technologies from exporting to Chinese companies.

"I'm completely against that approach," he said. "That is really not legitimate forms of competition. It's very dangerous."

The economist noted that "we need ideas and technologies to flow across the world" as they bring global benefits.

Sachs added that cybersecurity issues should be discussed by experts based on evidence instead of accusations.

Besides intergovernmental dialogue and discussions, people-to-people exchanges are needed as well, he said. "People like me, an academic who was not part of the government ... we need to be discussing and analyzing ways for cooperation," he said.

The professor also noted that there is a tendency in the United States to incite fear of Chinese students, based on concerns over "secret information."

"This attitude is absolutely wrong. It would tremendously weaken the United States," he said, adding that one of the country's strengths is its openness to students from across the world, including China.

Sachs also encouraged Chinese and U.S. universities to enhance cooperation in clean energy, conservation, and in ending extreme poverty.

Noting that China made several breakthroughs in 2020, such as containing the COVID-19 epidemic, ending extreme poverty and in space exploration, the economist said the country is "on the right track" in its policy framework, highlighting its objectives for technological development and the 2060 goal for de-carbonization.

Sachs, who first visited China in 1981, said that China has both a motivation and a capacity to speed de-carbonization.


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