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Europe Needs a Global Strategy

The increasingly sharp rivalry between the United States and China could have negative economic and other consequences for Europe. But instead of forging a strategic vision suitable to this risk, European leaders are, as per usual, preoccupied with their own problems.

BERLIN – Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States may have hastened the end of the “American Century” and of the US-led postwar international order. True, the world’s political and economic center of gravity had been shifting toward East Asia well before 2016, and the idea of China rising to global power in the coming “Pacific Century” is not new, either. But Trump’s actions, together with those of his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have brought the increasingly sharp superpower rivalry to center stage. Unfortunately, Europe has yet to produce a coherent response.

The current US-China trade dispute has the potential to trigger a global recession. But even this conflict is only part of a far larger power struggle, including in the technology sector, to determine whether the new rising star (China) or the incumbent (America) plays the leading global role.

For most of the period since China began its modernization drive under Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s, its policy was not to challenge the existing geopolitical and strategic order, and to avoid a confrontation with the US at all costs. But Xi’s speech at the Communist Party of China’s 19th National Congress in October 2017, and the several current Chinese initiatives aimed at challenging US dominance, indicate that China will no longer hide its strength and bide its time, as Deng enjoined.

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