I know you are a believer of the concept of "salutary balance of power" from Thomas Jefferson. Is the salutary balance possible between China, the United States and other powers?
If you look back into more classical diplomacy, it depends on what the statesmen wish to construct. After 1815 and the Napoleonic era, European statesmen got together and constructed a concert of power. After World War I, statesmen got together and constructed a world. So it just depends on what statesmen want to construct.
My view is that we need to think about the transformation of the international system in an era of the emerging multi-polar world. All of us together should be involved in changing the international system—American ideas, Russian ideas, Chinese ideas, Japanese ideas, European ideas, and ideas of the smaller powers.
Because we have globalization operating, it's a globalized world now. The world really is getting in some ways smaller. So, statesmen need to look ahead and get together and think through the transformation of the system—revitalization of the UN and revitalization of the international financial structures, which are a mess. But this is going to take Russia, China, the United States, Japan, European countries, and other countries sitting down and talking through transforming the system to a multi-polar world. Not, in the concepts of some, unfortunately, American politicians at the moment, the idea of an essentially unipolar world, with one superpower and a few other powers, with the United States running everything—that's not looking toward the future. It's actually unrealistic to think that way.
To be realistic, we have to think about our own position in the world, a changing world. And then, how can we transform the system so it's a win-win on all sides. It's not what we call a zero-sum game. We want a win-win on all sides, so the new system would be able to incorporate Chinese values and views, Russian values and views as well as Japanese, European and American. The statesmen, through the system, would be transforming diplomacy into a system that we could all agree on.
But the United States is the only superpower. It's difficult to think of a multi-polar world when you are the leader.
That's a very good point. However, you have to also be realistic. Our leadership element—either in the Democratic or Republican parties—perhaps isn't so realistic about the future. We have to admit that we have our own internal economic problems. Maybe we aren't going to be so strong in comparison to everyone else 10 or 20 years from now, as Russia recovers, China rises, etc. We have to think ahead and adjust our policy toward an emerging multi-polar world. And that's where we need creative thinking. And what's happened, I think unfortunately, is our thinking has fallen back on Cold War ideas—democracy vs. autocracies, as they say. And autocracies are a code-word for China and Russia.
I must say that our confrontational posture and rhetoric with China are paralleled in the Russia relationship. In my view, we need to reverse that thinking and go beyond it, and think about the multi-polar world that's coming along.
What do you think is China's role in this transformation, this constructing of a peaceful and multi-polar world?
I think it's self-evident that China represents about one fifth of the population of the planet, so it's very logical to me, at any rate, that a country that represents one fifth of the people on the planet should indeed take an active role when it wants to in shaping the transformation of the system. My view is that the United States and China and other countries should be working together to shape the transformation of the system.
In terms of the United States, it would be helpful for those of us who are trying to transform this system in a positive way, for the Chinese side to make as clear as possible its own positions. I don't think there is much understanding on the American side of the theoretical basis of Chinese foreign policy and diplomacy and the linkage between Chinese foreign policy and Chinese domestic economic policy. I don't think there's enough of an appreciation back home of the Chinese concept of international law, how Chinese see the emerging multi-polar world and what China thinks will be the appropriate international legal regime for that.
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