Superpowers join hands together to address big challenges | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi


Superpowers join hands together to address big challenges

THE recently held meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit endorses the very fact— that given the heightened geopolitical tension between the two superpowers vis-a-vis the ongoing war in Ukraine, the harrowing climate change, the Taiwan conflict, the brewing tension in the South China Sea, the growing trade and cyberspace issues— both Washington and Beijing can hardly afford to remain disengaged in that it would profoundly exacerbate apprehensions along geopolitical fault lines.

It is a good peace omen that now the two superpowers join hands together to promote peace and stability in their relations.

Notably, in August this year, Beijing froze key lines of communication with the US on military relations and important climate cooperation after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

China then ratcheted up military pressure on the island even as Biden pledged to defend Taiwan militarily.

Biden, for his part, clamped down on China’s access to critical semiconductor technology.

For years, the Chinese side has been showing concern regarding the US policy in Taiwan, the North Korea issue, US-China rivalry in the South China Sea, particularly US’ growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

On the other hand, Washington draws attention towards the China-North Korean leanings. And all the while, the ongoing war in Ukraine has become a centre point of attention for the US and its European allies.

Yet, the Bali Summit paves the way for a thaw in US-China relations. As for the American point of view, ‘The two leaders spoke candidly about their respective priorities and intentions across a range of issues.

President Biden explained that the United States will continue to compete vigorously with the PRC, including by investing in sources of strength at home and aligning efforts with allies and partners around the world.

He reiterated that this competition should not veer into conflict and underscored that the United States and China must manage the competition responsibly and maintain open lines of communication.

President Biden and President Xi reiterated their agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

President Biden also raised concerns about the DPRK’s provocative behaviour, noted all members of the international community have an interest in encouraging the DPRK to act responsibly, and underscored the United States’ iron-clad commitment to defending our Indo-Pacific Allie’’.

From the Chinese side, President Xi emphasized that China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace, always decides its position and attitude based on the merits of issues, and advocates resolving disputes peacefully through dialogue and consultation.

He reaffirmed that China is committed to deepening and expanding global partnerships, safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order underpinned by international law, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Xi retreated that China will stay committed to peaceful development, open development and win-win development, participate in and contribute to global development and pursue common development with countries across the world.

Moreover, President Xi pointed out that the two countries take different paths; while the United States practices capitalism, China practices socialism.

Such difference is nothing new and will continue to exist. Leadership of the CPC and China’s socialist system have the support of 1.4 billion people.

They are the fundamental guarantee for China’s development and stability. President Xi argues for China and the United States to get along, it is vital to recognize and respect such difference.

Neither side should try to remold the other in one’s own image, or seek to change or even subvert the other’s system.

Instead of talking in one way and acting in another, the United States needs to honour its commitments with concrete action.

President Biden emphasized the importance of both powers’ role in global affairs.

He valued that the US and China have a shared responsibility to show the world that they can manage their differences, and avoid and prevent misunderstandings and misperceptions or fierce competition from veering into confrontation or conflict.

The American side shares the view to virtually follow the principles guiding U.S. -China relations and thus, the two teams may continue discussions on the basis of the common understandings already in place, and strive for early agreement.

The U.S.government is committed to the one-China policy. It does not seek to use the Taiwan question as a tool to contain China, and hopes to see peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

In this contest, Chinese President Xi Jinping categorically told U.S. President Joe Biden that the Taiwan question was the “very core of China’s core interests” and the “first red line” in bilateral ties that must not be crossed.

Bilaterally, the US-China peace diplomacy must diligently work on four main premises: firstly, preventing a new cold war between the two superpowers; secondly, US policy stancevis-a-vis Taiwan’s independence issue; thirdly, curbing the US-China confrontations over the WTO laws that promotes a trade war; and fourthly, the US-orchestrated interventionist approach in the South China Sea.

From the Chinese perspective, the US is engaged in all-round containment China policy which is intrinsically aimed at encircling China by shaping the strategic environment around it, while pressing other countries to pick sides by forming various small circles that exclude China.

Undeniably, where there is a will, there is a way. Today’s global challenges require a need of bilateral understanding beyond making and breaking an alliance strategy, at the superpower level.

The world can hardly be a worth living while ushering in an era of confrontation and wars. Peace discourse is the only viable way to resolve our global conflicts.

The history of two world wars is suffice to prove this thesis. Both the US and China must share an equal responsibility for promotion of peaceful co-existence among nations.

In this regard, they must work together to address the global challenges— of climate change, the war in Ukraine, which propels risks of a radioactive fallout, the cyberspace security, the global arms and nuclear race, territorial and human rights issues—via persistent means of peaceful diplomacy.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.


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