Each time a year draws to a close, major media and specialist agencies across the world publish analyses and forecasts on the world situation and its development trends in the coming year. Insightful and penetrating, these reports and forecasts are the ‘spiritual feasts’ served once a year to people concerned with the world situation. Of those that have come out so far this year, the report Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds published by the US National Intelligence Council is the most eye-catching. According to the report, the West will lose its centuries-old position as a global master, and the United States and Europe, in particular, will no longer be able to dominate global affairs and may have to share their traditional privilege with the economies that have been rising up with so much vigor and vitality. Having resonated the cry for containing the rise of the world’s second-biggest economy, the report has inevitably triggered hot debates among the Chinese audience who wonder which country will become the global leader in terms of economic aggregate by that time and when such a shift of global power will get started.
It has been habitual for most people to ponder and predict future trends of world development with a traditional vision and simplistic mentality. What we should see, however, is the reality that the world has been undergoing profound and complicated changes. Now, human history has come to a crucial point, multi-polarization has become a megatrend, and there are no conditions left in today’s world for one country to rise up and rule the world in the place of another. Along with the acceleration of the pace of economic integration, globalization and the proliferation of the impact of informatization, our world has entered a new era of flat development. For instance, the latest global cooperation to cope with the US and the European debt crises and tackle other economic issues have best exemplified the indispensable interdependence between all countries in today’s world and the great importance of their cooperation for common development. Given these facts, economic, scientific, technological and cultural development goes far ahead of our knowledge and understanding of the world political situation, making it necessary to replace our traditional way of thinking with a new mentality.
When countries fight for equal rights in global affairs, they are simply trying to secure better development and grow their comprehensive national strength. They may not achieve the same pace of development, but they all aspire for the general goal of common development. Tomorrow’s world will no longer see the shift of supremacy in global affairs from one country to another. Instead, in-depth development of multi-polarization will turn create an international system where multiple forces coexist, compete with and contain each other, and pool efforts to seek common development.
To speculate the exact time when the world’s second-biggest economy will move to the top would be a simplistic look into tomorrow’s world. After all, economic aggregate is not the sum national strength of a country. Now, our world has entered an era of mutual dependence, with no country able to develop and improve itself without connection or concern to others. In China’s case, its national conditions, national policies, and national culture prevent it from seeking hegemony of all descriptions. What should be clearly understood and particularly emphasized is the fact that as the biggest developing country in the world, China knows only too well that its future and fate are closely linked to that of other developing countries, and that its peaceful development and advancement in science and technology will tremendously boost the overall development of other developing countries and the progress of the human race as a whole.
The ongoing development of economic globalization has raised some ambivalence among developed, Western countries. On one hand, they are the biggest beneficiaries of rapid development in rising economies; but on the other hand, they long for perpetualization of their supremacy. To their dismay, however, to develop has become an irresistible trend among developing countries. Moreover, these countries yearn for greater influence at the world stage and broader participation in global affairs. This type of gaming between developed and developing countries, will dominate the world’s political stage for years to come.
Needless to say, relations between China and the United States are the most complicated and most important bilateral relations in the world. With one being the biggest developing country and the other the biggest developed country, they differ widely in terms of development stages and growth issues. The start of a new year has led us to wonder which direction Sino-US relations will go. Given the fact that China, as the largest country in Asia, has come to hold a growing load of international responsibilities, common prosperity and security remains an issue of immediate concern to the Obama administration. Both China and the United States carry considerable weight on major international issues including: development of international systems, solution of regional issues, prevention of proliferation from weapons of mass destruction, and the fight against terrorism. China has set its mind on peaceful development, while the United States is determined to seeking strategic rebalancing.
How should the two countries broaden the convergence of their interests and keep them clear of zero-sum gaming? How can they increase harmonious development? And, to shape tomorrow’s world, what new ideas do they need to develop? These are the questions to be answered by the new leadership in China and the United States. However, they are not questions to be answered impromptu, but rather through earnest, patient and meticulous efforts by both parties. As the largest developing and developed countries in the world, China and the United States are fully obliged and well positioned to take on even greater responsibilities in international affairs and make even bigger contributions to global security and sustainable development.
Wu Sike is a member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and member on the Foreign Policy Consulting Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affair.