China Business

China And The United States: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

China US relations

Why can’t we be friends
Why can’t we be friends
Why can’t we be friends
Why can’t we be friends
I seen you walkin’ down in Chinatown
I called you but you could not look around

War, 1975

Seems perhaps we can be.
In a post entitled, Why Bad News for the U.S. isn’t Good News for China Time China Blog interviewed Tom Barnett on the future of United States-China relations. Barnett (whom I regard as one of the most knowledgeable people on world politics) is of the view that the interests of China and the United States coincide at least as much as they collide. Most importantly, Barnett is also of the view that the powers that be in China recognize this. In the interview, Barnett sets forth the following:

  • The United States “should play the role that Great Britain did [in the early 20th century with the US] and try to manage China’s rise toward being a responsible power.” I agree.
  • Barnett does not see China supplanting the United States as a great power “for quite awhile” because he rightly notes that “China’s rise is not the same as our decline.” Barnett sees “no inevitability to a . . . US decline.”
  • Just “because China is rising, the US is number one, and there can’t be two number ones” does not mean conflict between the US and China is inevitable: Well, I’ll say again, there’s nothing inevitable about it, and smart people on both sides understand that. Look, I’ve had meetings with both young PLA officers in Beijing, as well as fifth generation politicians, and when I talk about this stuff, their eyes light up. When I talk about how the United States needs China, but that China also needs the United States, they understand it. The connectivity runs both ways, obviously in economics and trade, and I’m arguing it needs to be extended into the security realm. And this IS possible. The assumption–which is pretty widespread in some precincts in the Pentagon and among some US scholars– that leaders in Beijing assume that bad news for the US–like the bleeding we’re doing in Iraq, for example– is good news for China , well that’s just wrong….They understand that both sides need the other not just economically speaking but in terms of security as well, and they we have to work towards accomplishing that. [A military alliance]is not something that will happen overnight, but it is something that both sides should be thinking about

Why not?

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