World should not be divided into two camps: Joseph Nye
Published: Oct 24, 2023 11:33 PM
Joseph Nye Photo: Courtesy of Nye

Joseph Nye Photo: Courtesy of Nye

It is a mistake to divide the world into "two camps" again, and China and the US should build a more interdependent relationship, Joseph Nye, former dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

He said that the US should continue to abide by the one-China policy to avoid conflict in the Taiwan Straits.

Nye made the statement during an interview with the Global Times at the 8th China Global Think Tank Innovation Forum in Beijing. The conference, co-hosted by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, focuses on topics of global public concern such as China-US relations, China-EU cooperation, the situation in Ukraine, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and global governance in 2024.

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and the eruption of a new round of conflict between Palestine and Israel, some analysts believe that the geopolitical turmoil is accelerating the "polarization" of the world and reformation of the "two major camps" of the East and the West. 

US President Joe Biden made a visit to Israel on October 18, a day after a hospital bombing in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians, Reuters reported. Some observers have been evaluating the possibility of direct US involvement in the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

Nye told the Global Times that although the Biden administration has expressed support for Israel, he believes that the US will avoid direct involvement of its military in the current conflict. 

He also believes that dividing the world into two major camps is a mistake because it overlooks the interdependence between countries in areas such as ecology and economy among others. 

He also stressed that the idea of "decoupling the US and China is out of the question." According to Nye, it's important to stop thinking in terms of a polarized world and instead we should try to build a more interdependent world order. 

The renowned political scholar believes that historical analogies such as camp confrontation or "Cold War" will only mislead people into making wrong decisions, and the diplomatic strategies of the Cold War era are no longer applicable to the current issues faced by China, the US, and the world. 

"We have just experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the future we may face similar situations again. During the SARS epidemic in early 2003, the US and China had very close cooperation, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not have good cooperation. The outcomes of the two epidemics are also starkly contrasting," he said during his speech at the CCG forum. 

He also noted that instead of focusing on outperforming others, it is better to form strong alliances and use our combined abilities to solve many global problems.

He emphasized that besides challenges such as the pandemic and climate change, close cooperation between China and the US is also needed in traditional areas such as weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation, as well as in new fields like artificial intelligence. Otherwise, the disastrous consequences of some challenges may even exceed those of war. 

Nye believes that equal attention should be given to both competition and cooperation in the China-US relationship, rather than excessive emphasis on competition.

In a previous interview with the Global Times, he said that the danger he sees in Washington is "demonization of China - seeing only the bad aspects and not having a balanced view. However, among the more moderate politicians, there is still an understanding that China is not an existential threat to the US."

He stressed that "having projects that we can work on together helps to counter the view that everything is conflict and competition. That would suggest that we do more together in areas like climate or world health and other areas. I'd like to see more of that to balance out the competition. The competition is going to continue. But we should not forget that there's also an important value in cooperation."