High Level Panel Discusses What China’s Rise Means for the World Order

During a workshop on transatlantic interests in the Asia Pacific, a high level panel convened to discuss whether the rise of China precipitated the need for a “new model of power relations.” The panel, moderated by Barry Pavel of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, discussed the construct of great power relations and the way in which the relationships between the United States, Europe, and Asia are understood. Members of the panel discussed the future of grand strategy and power relations throughout these countries, and the effects of the potential pivot toward Asia.

Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte explained that the long term challenge for the US and the world system will be the inability of the outdated Bretton Woods institutions to adapt and include the emerging world powers, namely China. He emphasized that future generations and all future agreements will have to adapt to this new reality for the world system to move safely to a state of bi- or, even, multi-polarity.

Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia and Japan chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, emphasized the importance of this multi-polarity and how it can be useful for US interests in Asia. He delved into US-Chinese relations and discussed how the United States could benefit from a strong China, but was frank in his opinion that for the European Union to be taken seriously by China it would have to get its economic act and foreign policy act together. In the long term, Dr. Green, predicted global bi-polarity between the US and China, supported by regional multi-polarity. In Asia specifically, he saw India serving as a counterweight to China and our other allies in the region reinforcing our common values.

Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, was confident that China would adapt to the world system. Stating that China’s current system of authoritarian capitalism was unsustainable, she explained that while the Chinese do have different “Confucian” cultural values, eventually its growing middle class would start demanding responsive, responsible government, stating that eventually the government will be challenged by quality of life issues like “clean baby food. She emphasized that while usually the United States may not be capable of grand strategy, in regards to China it had done relatively well, consistently supporting the idea that a strong China is good for the United States and in the end good for the world system.