The term, “cooperatition” was coined by economists to describe corporations both cooperate and compete at the same time. For example, Apple and Google cooperate on getting Gmail and Google Maps integrated well into the iPhone, resulting in a better finish product and while helping both companies in the market place. However, Google also makes the Android phone operating system which helps strengthen Apple’s iPhone competitors.
Nation states cooperate and compete as well. The broad and deepening of relationship between U.S. and China over the last three decades is clearly cooperation. If the U.S. and China are not interested in cooperating with each other, many aspects of the China-U.S. relationship would be vastly different. For example, both countries agree on the general need to combat terrorism on a global scale. This resulted in the successful passing of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373. Cultural exchanges at all levels between the American and Chinese peoples brought broad exposure to each other’s cultural, artistic, and educational achievements. The Strategic Economic Dialogue continued, and it made headlines just only few months ago. The increase in trade over the last few decades is also cooperation regardless of how one views the trade balance issue.
The competition part of this relationship is obvious too. U.S. interference in China’s dealings with the Dalai Lama and Taiwan or U.S. sponsorship of various human rights resolutions in the U.N. against China.
China’s leadership view the world in the same way too (as I am sure the U.S. leaders). In this China Daily report, former Chinese Ambassador to India, Pei Yuanying, said:
.. it was necessary to take multiple aspects of China-US relations into consideration. “The US has followed the policy of engagement plus containment with China for a long time and that overall policy will not change during Obama’s term,” he said.
Our world is not organized in black and white despite the media’s tendency to cast it as such. (My opinion is Western media have been egregious in trying to polarize the West in black and white terms, but that is another topic on its own.)
It appears the best thing to do is simply to keep cool. Yao Shujie, the Head of School and Professor of Economics and Chinese Sustainable Development and Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham in U.K., had an Op-Ed in China Daily, “Love-hate affair (between U.S. and China) must not boil over.” He said:
Obama is keenly aware of the economic interdependence that binds China and the US, and the importance of their healthy relations to global stability.
However, it is not difficult to understand why he has adopted a tougher approach toward China in recent weeks. Under fire at home, particularly following the Democrats’ loss of the US Massachusetts Senate seat in January, he must be seen as assertive in dealing with China. Obama knows the rise of China’s counter-balancing power is inevitable. But as a president of the world’s only superpower, he must do his utmost to slow its speed.
Historical, cultural and ideological differences between China and the US, coupled with the US’ desire to maintain its world dominance, mean that their relationship will not always be peaceful.
Ideologically, the West still uses “human rights” and “freedom of speech” to justify a lot of their behaviors toward the developing countries. However, in the last few decades, especially with the resurgence of economic power from China, India, and other developing countries, these Western ideologies have severely been weakened. In this U.K. based Guardian article, “Haemorrhaging of western influence at UN wrecks attempts to push human rights agenda,” a study concludes:
The haemorrhaging of Western power, as reflected in longer-term voting patterns in key UN bodies, is mirrored by the increasing clout of China, Russia and the Islamic world, according to an audit of European influence at the UN by the European Council on Foreign Relations.
As the article says, this is a long term development. I suspect the West, especially the Western media, will not abandon these ideologies for the foreseeable future. However, the height of their impact has long past.