An April 2015 report for the Belfer Centre of the Harvard Kennedy School for Science and International Affairs prepared by the Honorable Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, argues the following -
(a) For the first time in history, global military and economic powers no longer reside in one single superpower but are separated between a (historically-speaking) relatively young Western superpower democracy and a rising non-liberal Eastern challenger with millennia of culture and history.
(b) China's political and economic model is not about to collapse as David Shambaugh recently suggests but is likely to sustain and grow in gravitas at least in the coming decade.
(c) There is considerable "mutual assured misconception" in the strategic thinking of both the United States as the extant global superpower and China as a rising global power.
(d) China sees America as deeply opposed to China’s rise (not to say the legitimacy of the Communist Party), and driven to do whatever it takes to prevent China usurping American regional and global power. In particular, American geopolitical manoeuvres in the region seem in China's eyes to support the conclusion that the United States is secretly out to isolate, contain, diminish, and internationally divide China and to sabotage China's Communist Party leadership. The U.S. rejects that it is undermining or containing China. and instead sees China as seeking to push the U.S. out of Asia (following the "Monroe Doctrine" - Click here )
(e) Nevertheless, realism dictates that armed conflict between the U.S. and China is highly unlikely in the coming decade.
(f) But Chinese political, economic and foreign policy influence in Asia will continue to grow significantly, while China will also become a more active participant in the reform of the global rules-based order.
(g) To keep the global order on an even keel, there is a critical need for "Constructive Realism for a Common Purpose". Both countries should manage their mutual relations by developing a common strategic narrative for U.S.-China relations and by gradually building mutual strategic trust in working step by step on selected global issues of common, though dissimilar, interests, in such areas as crafting a non-mutually-exclusive and cooperative "Asia-Pacific Community".
Following on (e) above, distinguished Yale historian Paul Kennedy remarked in 2010, that “history, unfortunately, has a habit of wandering off all on its own.” A review in The Diplomat of The Improbable War: China, The United States and Logic of Great Power Conflict by London School of Economics international relations professor Christopher Coker, 2015, points out that avoiding the "Thucydides Trap" of inevitable rivalry between an extant superpower and a rising challenger spiraling out of control requires more than relying on the law of probability.
In the coming decades, therefore, much will be demanded of the vision, courage and ingenuity of the leaders of both the United States an China in managing their relations and in crafting a new global power consensus if the path is followed to peace instead of war.
Meanwhile, in the light of rising tensions between the two Great Powers over the South China Sea and China's geopolitical intentions, it is becoming more and more pressing to find a more sustainable approach to manage the situation to avoid unwanted and potentially uncontrollable escalations. China's time-honored suggestion of "Shelving Disputes, Joint Development 搁置争议，共同开发" may well offer a decisive first step in the right direction. Click here