Washington still reaches too quickly for its gun over its purse to solve problems abroad. With the notable exception of sanctions, the U.S. still debates its largest geostrategic challenges in overwhelmingly politico-military terms. But this is the era of geoeconomic statecraft, and the contest for leadership in Asia is being waged in primarily economic terms.
Looking at the present day through the lens of the recent past provides food for thought, if not grounds for pessimism. Hope for what tomorrow will bring has evaporated in many places in the West. But it's still very much alive and well in the East, where the web of routes once known as the Silk Roads are now rising again.
While China has highly developed systems of filters, censorship and punishment of dissenting views, more Chinese have access to more information than in earlier eras. Whether China can develop a formula that can manage an expanding urban middle class, regional inequality and resentment among ethnic minorities remains to be seen.
While China's economy continues to become more capitalistic, the Chinese definitely do not think America and the West have it all figured out politically or economically, especially not after the 2008 financial crisis. The students The WorldPost spoke with were also sensitive to, and eager to defend their country against, what they perceived as negative American press and sentiment towards China.
The WorldPost has obtained exclusive permission to publish a dialogue between Henry Kissinger and Fu Ying, which took place during a recent visit she made to the United States. Its candor and tone offer valuable insights into the thinking of these two important figures on the foreign policy of their countries. Fu Ying -- who was referred to as the "iron lady" during her time as China's ambassador to the U.K. -- is now the powerful chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress of China. Henry Kissinger is one of America's leading strategists and a former U.S. secretary of state.
The natural evolution of Western democratic societies could be summed up this way: The first step is to develop the economy and the educational system. The second step is the establishment of a general culture for the citizens and the rule of law. The last step is democratization. If the above order is out of place, a society has to pay a severely heavy price.
Something like the "bipolar hegemony" of Great Britain and Russia after 1815 (though other players like Austria, Prussia, and France mattered) could be reconstituted, with the US and China substituting for Great Britain and Russia. This seems to be Henry Kissinger's ultimate dream - a dream that one can glimpse in his latest book, Germanically entitled World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History.
The U.S. government believes that, as the inheritor of tsarist Russia and Soviet Union, Russia has expansionist and hegemonic traditions that China doesn't have. It believes Russia always has policies that challenge and attempt to supplant the existing international order while China doesn't. In many circumstances, China sees itself as a beneficiary of the current international order.