The post-pandemic world may provide “a good opportunity” for China and the United States to bolster cooperation in international macroeconomic policy and reforming global governance, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai has said.
In a keynote speech at a webinar at the invitation of John R. Allen, president of the Brookings Institution on Aug. 13, the ambassador also warned against attempts pushing the United States and China toward conflict.
Noting that the post-pandemic world will be “a very different world,” Cui said that technological progress and other factors will lead to restructuring of the global economy and the supply chain.
“There will even be some changes in the guiding economic philosophy, and greater priority will be given to social issues like public health and contagious diseases,” he said. “A new situation presses for better international macroeconomic policy coordination and reform of the global governance system, especially in social sectors such as public health.”
“Facing this major task and severe challenge, China and United States should make the right choice, on the basis of mutual understanding and respect, play a positive role for a ‘post-pandemic’ world order and global governance system, and build a more forward-looking, stronger and more stable relationship between our two great countries,” he said.
China has been an active participant, supporter and contributor to the current international system, the ambassador said, adding that meanwhile, as a major country with an ancient civilization, China’s integration would “inevitably bring changes to the international system, which needs to make adjustments accordingly.”
“Yet our intention is not to have a revolution or start up an entirely new system. While China has been trying to integrate into and adjust to the international system, we do hope the system could make necessary reforms in light of the varying circumstances,” he said.
“Will the United State be ready to work with China and other countries to ensure that the international order and global system will meet the needs of the entire international community, and address various global risks and challenges?” he said.
“Or instead, will the U.S. remain obsessed with zero-sum game and major-power competition, let the situation spiral out of control and fall into the ‘Thucydides Trap’? This is a fundamental choice the United States has to make,” he said.
The deterioration of China-U.S. relations amid the COVID-19 pandemic is not only greatly hindering bilateral ties but also undermining confidence in the global economy, Cui said.
Describing the China-U.S. relationship as “going in the wrong direction,” Cui raised concerns that there are attempts now to negate what has been built up so painstakingly by generations of Chinese and Americans over the decades and “to deliberately push our two countries into conflict and confrontation.”
“All these are happening in the context of the raging pandemic and the consequently flagging global economy. They are happening when international cooperation is urgently needed, especially between major countries, and this situation is greatly hindering our cooperation,” he said.
“The deterioration of China-U.S. relations also undermines people’s confidence in the global economy, with serious consequences for both countries and the world,” the ambassador said.
“It is natural for major countries to have differences and even competition, but they do not justify confrontation,” he said. “Today, what pushes major countries to cooperate far outweighs what drives them apart. Stigmatization will not make anybody great. Ideological crusades will not solve any problem in today’s world and is doomed to fail.”
Meanwhile, Cui said that fueling a confrontation between the U.S. and China will not slow down China’s development as external pressure will only lead to a stronger, more resilient China.
“History has proved time and again that external pressure will only lead to greater unity of the Chinese people, stronger cohesion of the Chinese society and better resilience of the Chinese economy,” he said.
“If the negative trend of China-U.S. relations is allowed to continue, China might have to face more difficulties and challenges. But the initiators of the so-called ‘New Cold War’ must weigh the costs they have to pay and the consequences for the world. For whom the bell tolls, there will be a day of reckoning,” Cui said.
The ambassador noted that those people who like the term “Cold War” so much “should not forget the prices the world paid for it in a span of some four decades, not to mention the bitter costs the United States and other countries paid in the two hot wars, i.e. the Korean War and the Vietnam War, which were fought during the Cold War.”
“We should not allow the history to repeat itself,” he said.
China remains committed to building a comprehensive, stable and constructive relationship and has “no intention or interest” to get involved in U.S. domestic politics, Cui also said.
“Maybe some people believe that China is just waiting for the result of the U.S. presidential election in November. Let me make it very clear here, we are not waiting for anything, and we are never willing to waste time in waiting,” he said. “Besides, American domestic dynamics is well beyond what we can predict or influence. We have no intention or interest to get involved.”
“During his visit to China almost 50 years ago, President Richard Nixon cited Chairman Mao’s poem, ‘We should seize the day, seize the hour.’ Today we still need to seize the day, seize the hour,” Cui said.
“We are ready to work with the current administration to search for solutions to existing problems anytime anywhere, even today or tomorrow. I just hope that they will free themselves from the panic and paranoid, which is costing them common sense in such a shocking way,” he said.
“People from all walks of life in China and the United States should stay guarded against vicious attempts to push the bilateral relationship to confrontation and conflict,” he said. “We should firmly resist any resurgence of McCarthyism, and expand two-way exchanges and cooperation, so as to get the China-U.S. relationship back to the right track as soon as possible.”