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China: Cooperation not Confrontation
The world is a dangerous place, but there are reasons to be optimistic, according to former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Despite several “wild card” threats to global security, China’s need to cooperate with the U.S. in order to maintain its economic growth trajectory is a “positive story”, he said at the AIC.

“China recognises that the U.S. will be the most powerful country for decades to come and is interested in cooperation not confrontation. Its leadership know that international stability is a prerequisite for growth,” said the former Danish Prime Minister.

China suffers from a scarcity of natural resources, so keeping trade routes open is essential. It requires technology transfers, so it must attract direct foreign investment.

Although the Chinese economy will soon be the largest in the world; per capita income is only 20 percent of that in the U.S. It is also a long way behind in terms of competitiveness, human and natural resources and, crucially, military capability.

Rasmussen pointed out that the stock of military equipment possessed by the U.S. is ten times the amount held by China.

However, the U.S. and its allies could do more to incentivize China to allay suspicions and encourage it into partnerships. For instance, reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to include China in a more appropriate role would send an important signal. China’s setting up of an alternative agency (the China Infrastructure Investment Bank) was the result of its exclusion, said Rasmussen.

In return, China could do more to help preserve geopolitical stability. It should respect maritime law in the South China Sea, introduce crisis management systems within Asia, not provide support to Iran and adopt a less ambiguous position about Russia’s aggression.

Although the Kremlin’s ideological drive to re-establish a greater Russia is the most imminent wild card threat to peace and stability, Rasmussen also identifies six others.

These include: 9/11-type terrorist attacks and an intensification of Islamic State activity; Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon; a North Korean missile attack on Japan, the U.S. or South Korea; and closures of the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal or the Malacca Strait which would severely affect international trade.

“We are living in a period of crisis and conflict,” said Rasmussen. “Despite this, China’s rise in cooperation with the U.S. means I feel positive.”