World needs cooperation, not new 'Cold War'
US President Joe Biden, speaking at the G7 Summit in June, said that a "new world order" based on "value alliance" needs to be built with allied countries. But to build such a world order, European countries and Japan would be forced to side with the US(against China).
Given the importance of China in the global economy today, it is unlikely that the US administration will succeed in its designs. Cooperation with China is indispensable for the European Union and Japan, because without it, they would struggle to recover from the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic-induced global economic slowdown.
Widening global economic disparities, the collapse of the middle class and declining economic growth have given rise to populism in the US and Europe, which incidentally has played a big role in the fast spread of the virus in the US and European countries. As such, the US may not succeed in its attempts, without strengthening its alliance with the EU and Japan, to counter China.
Therefore, what should the US, the EU and Japan do? They should, instead of trying to curb China's rise, strive to achieve common prosperity through cooperation with China and other Asian countries, as the US, the EU and Japanese economies are intertwined with the Chinese economy. Indeed, the developed economies can overcome the COVID-19 and economic crises only through cooperation with China and other emerging Asian economies.
In the second decade of this century, the economic growth rate of developed countries was in the range of 1 percent after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the euro crisis. In contrast, the Chinese and Indian economies were growing at an annual rate of more than 6 percent. China overtook Japan in 2010 to become the world's second-largest economy and the US in 2014 to become the largest economy in terms of GDP (purchasing power parity).
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund predict that China will overtake the US even in terms of GDP (nominal) by 2030, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development says China and India will be the two largest economies by 2060.
Biden's election as US president, many believed, will put "America back" in global leadership position and restore international relations to their healthy state. However, the US has not changed its cautious approach toward China, and its aggressive strategic Indo-Pacific policy. A typical example of this policy is the so-called QUAD, the informal alliance of the US, Japan, India and Australia based on the values of "democracy" and "freedom" and aimed at checking China's rise. The US is now contemplating extending the grouping by including the Republic of Korea, Vietnam and France.
The United States is wary of China because it is afraid it will cease to be the world's superpower sooner or later. And that's why the US is trying to suppress China before China overtakes it in military power and advanced technology.
Although Japan and Europe are political allies of the US, they understand that it is necessary to maintain economic relations with China to facilitate their economic recovery from the pandemic.
But the US may not allow such political and economic ties to be separated this time.
In their book 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, A.J. Stavridis, former supreme commander of NATO, and Elliot Ackerman, a US Marine combat veteran of Afghanistan, highlight three factors that could trigger a Sino-US conflict: the Diaoyu Islands, the South China Sea, and the Taiwan question. And they say China might start the war.
But it seems China will not start the war, because it has no reason to do so as it is sure to overtake the US economically if its stable economic growth continues.
Yet if the US triggers a military conflict with China, Japan might be forced to join it. So every possible effort should be made to prevent a war, because even a "limited war" would be devastating for the region－which includes China, Russia and the Korean Peninsula－and would impede regional development for a long time to come.
The US' strategy seems similar to the Munich Agreement. In 1938, Britain and France signed an agreement with Germany (and Italy) ceding the Czechoslovakian territory of Sudetenland to Nazi Germany in the hope it would lead to a war between Germany and the Soviet Union and "save" them from the Nazi army. Similarly, the US may be trying to spark a war among Asian countries to avoid a direct confrontation with China.
Asian countries should not fall into this trap, even accidentally, because that will hinder Asia's growth and allow the US and Europe to once again dominate the world and Asia in the long run.
The US is trying to isolate China with the help of its allies Japan and the ROK, and some ASEAN member states, so as to ensure it remains a leader of the world economy. Japan needs to support the economic development of Asia and strengthen economic relations with neighboring and EU countries despite maintaining its political cooperation with the US. Nothing would be more dangerous and useless if Japan fights for the US against China. Such a scenario should be avoided at all costs.
In fact, Japan and EU states should help boost the global economy by coordinating their policies and cooperating with China, India and ASEAN states.
Japan rose from the rubble of World War II to become the second-largest economy in the world through diligence, hard work, technological development, proper planning and cooperation with other Asian economies. It's another matter that China overtook it as the second-largest economy in 2010.
Japan, as an economic and technological powerhouse, should work with China and the ROK to achieve global stability and prosperity. East Asian countries such as Japan, China and the ROK, which are globally superior in economic power, should work together to build a more equitable world order, rather than expanding their military power, increasing tensions and fighting against each other. It should be our mission to make a new world order based on peace and prosperity, and promote the development of the world.
The author is a professor at Aoyama Gakuin University. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.