US building alliances against China destabilizes world
Published: Sep 02, 2022 07:43 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

After World War II, the US was so dominant in technology and economy that it came to see itself as global leader. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US thought of itself as the single superpower of the unipolar world. But no one country should consider itself leader of the whole world, because we need a world that is diverse, multipolar, and governed not by decisions of one country or the primacy of one country but by international law, especially the UN Charter.

US foreign policy reflects old thinking, because the conditions of the 1980s or 1990s do not apply to the world in 2022. We need a world of cooperation. There are many regions of the world, like North America, European Union, China, African Union, and so forth, that need to deal with each other based on mutual respect, cooperation, global problem solving and following the international rules along with the UN Charter.

So in this context, the relationship between the US and China is especially important. It should be a cooperative relationship. It should be a relationship that is governed by international law. But there are so many misunderstandings, because in the US, few people have any awareness of China's realities and history. 

Very few people have visited China, understood it, or had the chance to have Chinese friends and colleagues as I am lucky to have. What I advocate all the time is for more dialogue, more structures where governments meet systematically to resolve problems and to discuss issues. And of course more meetings outside of government between academic leaders, scholars, artists, tourists and students, because the more we discuss, the more we have dialogue, the more we interchange, the more we will have peace and cooperation. 

Right now, we are on a dangerous course. American foreign policy toward China is misguided and a serious mistake.

We already see how failure of negotiations led to conflict as in the war in Ukraine. The US should have negotiated with Russia last year about Russia's concerns over NATO enlargement which is dangerous and provocative. There wasn't proper diplomacy. 

When you have that kind of failure of basic diplomacy, the dangers are obvious - one can reach conflict easily. And in our world today, conflict is devastating. It can lead to immeasurable destruction and loss of life. We need to cooperate. We need to understand each other and the problems, such as climate change, which are very serious and cannot be solved except through cooperation.

So this is why it's so important for the US to have a new kind of foreign policy, one that is based on cooperation rather than confrontation. The foreign policy of hurling charges and sounding bites is not helpful. When we sit down to talk with each other, we make real progress. It's amazing what dialogue can do. This is the approach we should be following.

The US politicians have been on a campaign to discredit China and to build an alliance of nations against China. This is obviously a very misguided and dangerous idea. 
Perhaps now that the world is becoming dangerously destabilized by many shocks, it will be possible for the US government to reconsider its foreign policy and create a new foreign policy that is less hostile and more cooperative.

The only sane path for the world is global cooperation. We need a united world in facing common challenges - climate change, biodiversity, ending poverty, preventing war, ending the arms race. The US idea of an ideological war is naïve. There is much more that unites us than divides us, and we should behave accordingly.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Yu Jincui based on an interview with Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn