translated by: Böröcz Dorottya
2018. July 17. 10:00
Many people are afraid that China will become too powerful and a threat to Western civilization. But the seclusion of the West would not be successful, a well thought-out cooperation is in everyone's interest.
China's rapid and seemingly unstoppable growth is unquestionably Western civilizations’ biggest challenge the 21st century. No one knows for sure where this massive economic growth and the increasingly active diplomacy with other countries will lead. Will China overturn capitalism or integrate slowly into the current system? Insecurity can evoke fear, but this should not distract us from the opportunities of a potential cooperation.
*The positive aspects of a prudent cooperation
Besides the negative aspects, China's strengthening has a positive side as well that the Western states quite justly try to make good use of. Various free-trade agreements and huge investments are made one after the other. More and more Western countries declare China to be a trading partner of strategic importance and strengthen their political cooperation with the Eastern state. The European Union is currently one of China's most important trading partners. The communist country wants to reach a mutual free-trade agreement with the EU as soon as possible; some, such as former British Prime Minister David Cameron supported this, while others warned to be more cautious. If economic ties were to be further strengthened, then the European markets would be at risk to be flooded with underpriced products due to the cheap Chinese labor force, leading to the deterioration of the EU countries’ competitiveness. France, Spain, and Italy therefore only support closer cooperation and investments in information and technology as well as joint developments in e-commerce.
*China and the United States: the quest for balance
Balancing between China and the United States of America is a rather difficult task for leading politicians and diplomats of various Western states. China's totalitarian state model is alarming to most countries following democratic principles. Although almost every Western country tries to establish good relations with China, they also painstakingly make sure that only such economic agreements are made that do not make them too unilaterally dependent on China.
China is aware that many European countries navigate between the USA, Russia and the East, and therefore strives to show itself in the best light possible so that more countries would choose the Chinese investor over the two other superpowers. On the one hand, this may lead to the gradual transformation of the world order and promote China's liberalization at the same time. The country is still under communist regime, but a gradual softening in the system can be observed, which might as well lead to cultural and social convergence to the West over time. If China wants to be part of the world economy and enjoy all its benefits, it must join the various international agreements and institutional systems, like the World Trade Organization (WTO) of which China became a member in 2001. Such co-operations not only provide rights for China, but also impose obligations on it, promoting the integration into the Western system. The WTO membership, for example, guarantees that China will incorporate the rules of international trade into its own domestic legal system.
It is important that Western countries give due respect to China and also let it play an increasingly active role in the international political, economic, cultural and social scene after such a lengthy isolation. It should be welcomed that Chinese metropolises host more and more international events. The Olympic Games were held in Beijing in 2008 and the G20 summit was held in Hangzhou in autumn 2016.
Although the Chinese economy can outgrow the American one in a few years, if the US plays its diplomatic cards well, it should not be afraid of the East. Even if the US alone cannot offset China, jointly with the other countries of the Western civilization, it could retain its ascendancy.