Fact Box

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At a critical juncture


The decisions that countries make now will shape the future for better or worse

The prospect of another Cold War seems to loom large. At this historic juncture, major countries that wield a lot of influence have to make difficult choices. The consequences of these choices will lead to either a world blessed with peace and cooperation, or one that is mired in a situation of divisiveness and confrontation.

The Joe Biden administration in a change from the unilateralist foreign policy of its predecessor is seeking to increase the pressure on China and Russia by rallying its allies.

The joint US-Japan statement, maliciously finger-pointing at China by calling its behavior "inconsistent with the international order" and expressing "concern over issues related to Taiwan and Xinjiang" has crossed the bottom line.

Consequently, the escalated confrontation has reversed the positive momentum in China-Japan relations. To make matters worse, for the first time in three decades, even the European Union has announced sanctions against China.

And, following the US announcement of sanctions on China, the United Kingdom and Canada, also, unilaterally imposed sanctions against China, worsening their already strained ties with China.

The United States has also signed a series of military cooperation agreements with India, making India its non-allied partner in the Indian Ocean.

The US also plans to turn the G7 summit in the UK in June into a "democracy summit" targeting China and Russia.

Biden has called Russian President Vladimir Putin "a killer" and announced more sanctions against Russia, prompting Putin to immediately recall the Russian ambassador to the US, making confrontation between the two countries inevitable. Meanwhile, the EU and the UK, have also announced sanctions against Russia. Encouraged by the US and Europe, Ukraine has threatened Russia with military action, increasing risks of a conflict if not a war between Russia and Ukraine.

Following intensified confrontation and pressure from the US and its allies, China and Russia have further strengthened their strategic engagement and collaboration. If rival camps are emerging, the world will be on the verge of separation and confrontation.

Where the world goes from here depends on the choices countries make at this critical juncture. From the historical perspective, the global landscape and the future of the humankind have always been shaped by conflicts among major powers and the strategic decisions they make.

It is an inevitable trend that the US will spare no effort to contain and suppress China. However, the decision of other countries, especially those of US allies, is an important factor that will shape their future as well as that of the world.

The US will adopt a strategy with the aim of maintaining its hegemony, or, more specifically, its predominant position in international affairs. Will its Western allies be willing to be used as pawns by serving the US? If the answer is yes, the world will inevitably become mired in divisiveness and confrontation. Since all countries are members of the global village, their destinies are intertwined, and countries will suffer heavy losses if the wrong decisions are made.

If trapped in a fossilized mindset, complacency and arrogance, the Western countries will lose sight of history and the overall development of the world. They may be ready to support and help the US maintain its hegemonic position. However, they should take a pause and think if that is in line with the enshrined principles of democracy or with the trend toward a multipolar world, and if they are willing to see a world so divided that another world war becomes inevitable.

As the novel coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on economies and claims a growing number of lives around the world, it is imperative for countries to work together to navigate through these difficult times, especially by cooperating on pandemic prevention and control, the development of vaccines, the reopening of borders, and economic recovery.

However, global efforts to respond to the pandemic and promote economic recovery will suffer major setbacks if some countries gang up and hijack the world plunging it into confrontation at this critical time.

Peace and development are the historical trend of our times. The two catastrophic world wars and the Cold War that followed left countries determined there should be no repeat of them. Most countries desire peace and cooperation and want to pursue development and prosperity. The technological revolution spearheaded by information technologies has accelerated the progress of globalization. With closer ties among people, societies and states, human society will gradually evolve into a community with shared interests and responsibilities and recognition of a shared future. This is a historical trend that nothing can stop. Thus, in the 21st century, it is important to take policy actions in line with the global trend and for the benefit of the well-being of all people and a better future for humankind.

China has been trying to maintain and push forward the progress of humanity. It has been making its contribution in its own way. Guided by its traditional values of harmony and cooperation, it advocates building a community with a shared future for humankind. It upholds the international system with the United Nations as its core and the international order based on international laws, and it has made important contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. China's Belt and Road Initiative represents its proposal for global governance.

No one can stop a rising China from achieving its national rejuvenation. If anyone tries to do so, it will just be a bump along the way and a minor disturbance in the course of history and the development of humanity.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.