The US will retain unchallengeable global dominance for at least two decades, a top Chinese official said in an essay urging his government to find a balance between assertion and restraint.
Le Yucheng (樂玉成), director-general of policy planning for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the remarks before Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) visit to the US last week, but they reflect the thinking behind Hu’s four-day effort to both reassure Washington while pressing Beijing’s own complaints.
The worst of the global financial crisis had passed, but its aftershocks would continue to drag on wealthy economies and are hastening a “historic transformation in the international balance of powers,” Le said in the Foreign Affairs Review, a Chinese-language publication overseen by his ministry.
China must not assume, however, that the US is suffering irreversible decline or that the two powers will soon be near equals, Le said in an issue that reached subscribers yesterday, but was dated late last month.
“With the newly emerging powers growing faster, the United States’ share of the pie is shrinking in relative terms and so the fact is that its advantages are also shrinking,” Le said.
“But the United States is after all the United States. It makes up one quarter of the world economy, it holds incomparable military, scientific and innovative strengths, and we must not underestimate the United States’ capacity to adjust and restore its powers,” Le said. “In particular, the United States’ strength and influence remain far in the lead and will be unbeatable for the next 20 to 30 years.”
Some of Le’s comments were published in a state-run newspaper, the Global Times, late last year, and the Foreign Affairs Review said his essay also took elements from his recent official reports on international developments.
Le stressed that while China was a rising power, it did not want to cast itself as an emerging peer or challenger of the US and advanced West. New comments from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎) also underscored that theme.
“The international situation is undergoing far-reaching adjustments in the wake of the financial crisis,” Yang wrote in International Studies, a Chinese-language journal that reached subscribers yesterday. “But developing countries still face many hardships and challenges.”
Le dismissed warnings that China was becoming more hardline, but said it would not be pushed around.
“While we stress keeping our heads down and working hard, not taking the lead or becoming the banner-holder, that does not mean that China will meekly submit to pressure, tolerate being bullied or stay passive,” he said. “In bilateral cooperation with the United States, China feels that it receives unequal treatment from the US on many points.”
Le said military exercises would not solve the long-standing conflict between North and South Korea, but China was not seeking to push the US from the region, he said.