Thomas Friedman writes: What comes after the War on Terror? Will the war be on China?

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of failed nation-building has left many Americans and analysts saying, “If we knew then what we know now, we would never have gone down this road.” An important question, which is: What are we doing today in our foreign policy, which might make us look back 20 years from now and say: “If we had known at that time what we know now, we would have never taken this path.” This question is in one word: China.

The forty years from 1979 to 2019 were an important era in US-Chinese relations. It is true that it witnessed many fluctuations, but in general it was an era of great economic integration between the two countries, and this integration helped deepen the globalization of the global economy much more. Supporting four decades of relative peace between the two superpowers of the world, we must always remember that it is the conflicts of the great powers that cause us to destabilize world wars.

That era of globalization between the United States and China has left some American manufacturing workers unemployed after opening huge new export markets to others around the world, while lifting hundreds of millions of people in China, India and East Asia out of poverty, but it has also made many products in reach more American consumers.

In short, the relative peace and prosperity that the world has experienced in those past forty years cannot be explained without looking at the relations between the United States and China.

But over the past five years, the US-China relationship has experienced some pitfalls, and there may have been a trend towards direct confrontation, and I see China’s bullying leadership style, the country’s trade policy, and the changing makeup of its economy, largely responsible for this change in the shape of relations. .

If the current situation continues, there is a good chance that the two countries, as well as many others, will look back 20 years from now and say that the world has become a more dangerous and less prosperous place due to the breakdown of US-China relations in early 2020. .

Among the points that fuel the conflict between the two countries is the country’s leadership strategy followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is to extend the Communist Party’s control over all aspects of society, culture and trade in Beijing, with the need for the country not to depend on America in advanced technologies, and its willingness to do everything What it takes, buy or steal these technologies, to ensure that.

The level of technology theft and penetration of American institutions has become intolerable, not to mention China’s desire to eradicate democracy in Hong Kong, eradicate the Islamic culture of Uighur Muslims in the west of the country, and use its economic power and wolf-warrior diplomats to intimidate its neighbors like Australia not to demand an investigation. The origin of the emerging corona virus in Wuhan.

There is no doubt that the best way America can respond to China is by doing the one thing Beijing hates, which is to confront it with a broad, transnational alliance based on shared universal values ​​of the rule of law, free trade, and human rights.

I believe that when we make the confrontation with China a confrontation between the American president and the Chinese president, the latter can then benefit from the inclusion of all Chinese nationalists on his side, but when we make it a confrontation between the world and China, then we will isolate the hardliners in Beijing and benefit from the inclusion of more Chinese reformers on our side.

But China will not respond to talk of international standards even if it faces a global alliance, so such talk must be supported by economic and military influence.

And some wonder how much effect now prioritizing reform at home by addressing the massive deficits in infrastructure, education, income and racial equality, after the 20-year war on terror, would be more beneficial or more dangerous to the Chinese threat? But I think our grandchildren will thank us for that in 2041.