Desirable global trend

Updated: 2013-01-07 07:42

By Wang Hui (China Daily)

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Greater collaboration between the US and China would be advantageous to both and also benefit the rest of the world.

The advent of a new year always inspires aspirations for the times ahead. A recent report released by the United States National Intelligence Council offers the world a crystal ball to gaze into the future as far as 2030.

In December, the council, following its tradition of predicating possible geopolitical trends over the next two decades once during each US administration, released its Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report. The 160-page document is a feast for the eyes as it offers possible answers to many of the questions perplexing people today, such as: How will global power shift? Who is going to lead the world? Will food security and environment degradation beset more countries in the near future? Readers with disparate concerns will have different understandings of the lengthy work.

From a Chinese perspective, two predictions made by the writers of the US report are noteworthy. First, by 2030 the United States and its allies will no longer enjoy the preponderance of power. By then, no country - whether the US, China, or any other large country - will be a hegemonic power. Second, the US will concern itself with the rise and trajectory of China in the years to come. The report mentions China more than 300 times and points out that the "US-China relationship is perhaps the most important bilateral tie shaping the future".

There is nothing new about the statement that US power will decline, except that it is the first official US acknowledgement of the fact. In recent years, many internal and external factors have contributed and will continue to contribute to the waning of US influence. Many of those factors, such as the rise of emerging countries and the world financial crisis, have been unstoppable. The wise choice for the US would be to go with the trend.

A world without the US playing the role of global policeman would not be at all bad. In recent years, the US hegemony has become increasingly unpopular. In the past decade, the world has witnessed a growing number of conflict zones, as the US has tried by hook or by crook to cling to its supremacy.

Many of the world's woes today are related in one way or another to the world's sole superpower. In the Middle East, a forced regime change in Libya, orchestrated by the US and its Western allies, has yet to bring peace and stability to the country; Iraq continues to be mired in political crisis, sectarian rifts and ethnic violence more than one year after the US pulled its troops out. As the Syria crisis drags on into a third year, the violence and bloodshed show no sign of abating while the US and its allies appear to be making preparations for military intervention in another sovereign state in the region.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the US has played an injurious role in some of the region's recent disputes over territorial waters. Had it not been for the US' covert or overt support, countries like Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam would not have been so emboldened in their attempts to claim Chinese islets and waters in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Last week, US President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, with two controversial sections relating to arms sales to Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands, which are China's inherent territories.

To peace loving people in the world, the US wielding its power in the world only produces undesirable results. It is reasonable to predict that if the US refrains from policing the world, there is a better chance of the world becoming more peaceful by 2030.

As to the US' concern about China's rise, it is no secret that many in Washington deem Beijing as both a partner and an adversary. In this regard, the US intelligence community predicts that the US will be overtaken by China in economic weight, possibly as early as the 2020s.

It is interesting to observe that the writers of the US report have taken painstaking efforts to depict four distinct global scenarios for 2030 under its "potential worlds" section. The scenario entitled Fusion is most desirable as it depicts a win-win situation for both countries and also caters to the interests of others. In this scenario, the US and China collaborate on a range of issues, leading to broader global cooperation.

There is a Chinese saying: If we aim for the best, we will get the second best at least. The Global Trends 2030 report has outlined the best and the worst scenarios that might come true by 2030, in both of which the US and China play a significant role. There is no reason why the two should not work together to achieve the best outcome as it benefits both sides and the rest of the world.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.