The ‘American century’ has come to its end

By He Yafei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/20 20:08:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

In recent years, many Chinese and foreign scholars have been thinking about an epochal question: whether "the post-American era" has already come and where will it lead the world? After all the changes and adjustments in the global balance in recent years, the answer is yes. The historical turning point of this era's arrival is the global financial crisis that started from Wall Street in 2008. The year 2017 is a new historical starting point for accelerating the development of this era.

The rise of the overall strength of developing countries represented by China promoted the convergence of world power turning from quantitative changes to qualitative changes. The convergence not only includes economic strength but the competition of ideologies.

In 2016, China hosted the G20 summit in Hangzhou; in 2017, President Xi Jinping proposed a "community of common destiny for all mankind" at the World Economic Forum at Davos, showing China is striding toward becoming a global major power. China's development continues to progress and China has begun to fully participate in and actively lead global governance.

Outpacing America's GDP is only a matter of time with China's current economic growth. The US is still a superpower in military, economic and many other aspects and maintains its hegemony. However, due to great changes in the political, economic, ideological and cultural aspects of the world power balance, the end of the "American century" has become a reality, and the international order's adjustment is inevitable.

Nowadays, globalization has undergone unprecedented changes and entered a new era. The contest between globalization and anti-globalization forces has intensified. New emerging economies and developing countries represented by China strongly support globalization, while some Western countries including the US, the initiators and leaders of globalization, have reversed their positions.

The US is trying to modify international economic rules to deliberately exclude China and other developing countries. It quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership, withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and started to renegotiate North America Free Trade Agreement and bilateral trade deals with important trading partners such as South Korea. These acts reflect America's cunning egoism, which is totally incompatible with globalization.

In the post-American era, unprecedented changes have taken place in the world security system. Over the years, the military alliance network and the global partnership network have coexisted and competed. We believe that the world will develop toward collective, cooperative and common security. The global partnership network has a sound momentum.

Since WWII, the US has established many bilateral and multilateral military alliances and established the global security system to safeguard its hegemony and global interests' expansion.

However, the world power balance has changed, globalization has further developed and America's reputation declined sharply in the post-American era, all of which show that the global military alliance supported by the US neither can maintain world peace and tranquility nor can safeguard its own safety. The Trump administration's harsh demands on allies have begun to hurt and tear their relationships.

Of course, the military alliance network of the US and the dollar-centric monetary system are the two most important pillars of US global strategy, thus they will not fade soon, but are likely to be strengthened in the coming period. The transformation of the world security system will obviously lag behind the development of the post-American era.

At the same time, China is actively advocating multilateralism centered on the United Nations, calling for a global partnership network featuring win-win cooperation, mutual reliance, openness and equality and a new type of collective, cooperative and common security framework.

In addition to bilateral strategic partnerships, cooperative partnerships like the G20, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and  the "16 plus 1" cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European countries are popular around the world and continue to expand. The popularity of this nonaligned, open, mutually equal model seeking cooperation and security is increasing, especially in medium and small developing countries. Despite obstacles raised by the US, Japan and other countries, China and ASEAN have adopted a framework for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which shows relevant countries have profound understanding of the new security concept proposed by China.

Since we entered the post-American era, we have seen an overlap of the conversion of the international order, the adjustment of global governance, and the transformation of the world economy.

These have become overlaid crises, creating economic hardship and political turmoil that provide fertile ground for the rise of populism. With the deepening of geopolitical competition between major powers, the post-American era does not guarantee peace and requires continued hard work by all sides.

The author is a former Chinese vice foreign minister. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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