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Foreign Policy

A Future Without War for China and the US

Aug 02 , 2013
  • Wu Zurong

    Research Fellow, China Foundation for Int'l Studies

The goal to build a new type of great power relationship between China and the United States will ensure that a war will not be fought between China and the US. A prosperous bilateral relationship is in the interest of China, the US and the world.

As a result of globalization, the world is smaller than ever before. If the US suffers from an economic recession, China will also feel economic pressure as markets shrink and jobs are lost. When the US economy is prospering, China greatly benefits from American investments and bilateral trade. On the other side of the coin, the success of China’s economy also has a direct impact on the economy of the US. Given the relationship between the economies of the two countries, it seems absurd to think war could be possible.

Additionally, the world has entered an entirely new historical period in which peace and development are the primary themes. People of the world are all concentrating their efforts on invigorating the economy and improving their livelihoods. It is encouraging that there has been no major war or direct military conflict among big powers with nuclear weapons since the end of World War II. Even in times of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, no war broke out between the US and the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that there have been a number of local wars in some small or medium-sized countries, the US, considering the hardly bearable cost and destruction, has been very cautious when dealing with matters that might lead to large-scale military conflicts with other major world power. This new situation and the past experience would certainly help China and the US work together to avoid any military conflicts and achieve the goal of no war between China and the US in the future.

The experience and lessons in enhancing strategic trust, expanding cooperation and managing and controlling differences and sensitive vital issues by China and the US in the last 40 years or more since Nixon’s historic visit to China are very precious wealth for both our two countries.Building on those experience and lessons, our two countries are making remarkable progress. Communications and access between top government and military leaders has been hugely successful. The two sides have decided to actively explore the mechanism of informing each other major military activities, as well as to continue the study of the issue of a code of conduct for Chinese and American air and naval security. Our two armies are working together on the detailed arrangements for the Chinese army’s participation in the Pacific Rim multilateral military exercise of 2014. A growing number of other exchanges on security and military affairs between the two armies are being vigorously conducted. All this is in the right direction towards achieving the innate goal of the new type of China-US great power relationship.

Although China and the US are making significant progress towards a new type of great power relationship, discussions regarding various versions of a “China threat” or the “US military encirclement of China” in the media and among academic and defense circles have become more prevalent. Most of such rhetoric is conducted in the light of a cold war mentality or an outdated theory on relations between large global powers. The world is undergoing profound changes in the international security paradigm with continued economic globalization. However, the study on the theory of the great power relationship has to catch up with this historic change. This shift requires the study of military development and the decision making process of great powers to be conducted in the new light.

Wu Zurong is a research fellow at the China Foundation for International Studies.

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