China and US US State Dept/Flickr

A New Blueprint for US-China Relations

The current relationship between the US and China risks turning legitimate competition into a dangerous confrontation. In a new report, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlines a different approach – which he calls “constructive realism” – that could mitigate that risk.

NEW YORK – In the coming decades, nothing will matter more for global peace, prosperity, and governance than how the United States and China handle the ongoing shift in their relative power. In the long term, today’s other pressing challenges – including Russia’s relationship with the West and events in the tumultuous Middle East – will amount almost to sideshows by comparison.

What makes the Sino-American relationship dangerous is that powerful forces in both countries seem intent on a collision course. On the Chinese side, under Xi Jinping’s assertive leadership, the government is no longer heeding Deng Xiaoping’s injunction that the country should “hide its strength, bide its time, and never take the lead” in international affairs. It has pursued manifestly expansionist territorial claims, most notably in the South China Sea, and shown a clear determination to resist the indefinite continuation of American dominance in the region. The prevailing Chinese mindset is that the US is intent on isolating, containing, and undermining it.

Unhappily, there is plenty of evidence on the US side to feed that sentiment. Whatever many American policymakers may be saying in private, their public discourse almost invariably reflects an intention to remain the world’s dominant power – and specifically in Asia – in perpetuity.

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