China, US, Russia and Europe enter period of power cooperation
At the beginning of the new century, the steps of big-power cooperation have been quickened, efforts to establish
strategic trust and cooperation have been strengthened, the four major strengths of China, the United States, Russia
and Europe maintain cooperation on the issue of international security, of which US-Russian, Russian-European and
China-Russian cooperation is most striking.
In the process of adjusting big-power relations in the coming decade, perhaps Sino-US relationship is most uncertain, due to ideological difference and the Taiwan issue, the strategic cooperation between China and the United States is not so solid as that between the United States and Russia. However, the "September 11" incident has provided a new opportunity for Sino-US strategic cooperation and the establishment of strategic trust.
The development prospect for big-power cooperation in the coming decade is vitally important for the creation of an
international pattern in the 21st century. In this process, China will have a lot to accomplish in foreign affairs.
Recently, US-Russian relationship underwent major adjustments, the United States has given further show to its global
dominant superiority, the "westward advance" strategy of Russia has become increasingly clear.
The world's people have shown great concerns about what influence the major event appeared in the process of this international political development will exert on the trend of the international pattern in the 21st century and on China's foreign strategy. In fact, the US-Russian proximity is not a recently appeared thing, but a result of the common actions exerted by the two strategic ideas of Russia's long-term "westward advance" and the gradual acceptance of Russia by the United States and Europe.
The "September 11" incident and the "war against terrorism" hitherto continuing have not only embodied the
determination of all big powers in the world to enter into cooperation on the issue of international security, but
more importantly, it has sped up the process US-Russian strategic cooperation and the evolution of the international
pattern. The "September 11" attacks on Washington is the watershed for judging the trend of international politics,
while the adjustment of US-Russian relations marks the entry of big-power cooperation into a new stage.
The "September 11" event has enabled the strategic process of big powers trying to find out the real situation over the past decade to tend toward an end and clarity, especially in the field of international security.
In the process of adjusting relations, the motives of big powers have become increasingly notable: All of them have
the intention to maintain the situation of long-term cooperation. The adjustment of US-Russian relations marks an
essential change in the major keynote of the world's leading big power in handling mutual relations.
In connection with the development trend of big-power cooperation after the Cold War, we can discover that at the beginning of the new century, the steps of big-power cooperation has been quickened, the contents of cooperation are being deepened gradually, the areas of cooperation are expanding incessantly, and efforts to establish strategic trust and cooperation by big powers are being strengthened.
The main keynote of big powers in handling mutual relations is seeking cooperation, not pursuing confrontation; is
reducing disputes, not increasing contradictions; and is establishing strategic trust and understanding, not creating
strategic misunderstanding and misjudgement.
What is most attractive in big-power relations is the four major strengths of China, the United States, Russia and Europe to keep sustained cooperation on the issue of international security, of which, cooperation between the United States and Russia, between Russia and Europe and between China and Russia is most striking.
Taking the "Treaty on Reducing Offensive Strategic Weaponry" signed by the United States and Russia at the end of May
2002, the "Declaration on the New US-Russian Strategic Relations", the "Rome Declaration" signed by Russia and NATO
and the establishment of the "Russia-NATO Council" as the hallmark, US-Russian relations and Russian-European
relations have entered a new period of strategic trust and cooperation, the age of confrontation has become a thing
of the past.
In the fields such as attack on terrorism, international peace-keeping and the prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their military cooperation will continue to expand. Although there is no lack of grudge among the three parties, the reduction of strategic worries and the enhancement of strategic trust are evident to see, furthermore, this mainstream will continue on.
China and Russia have, since the conclusion of the Cold War, all along been pursuing the establishment of a strategic
cooperative partnership, the Sino-Russian Good Neighbourly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed by leaders of
the two countries in 2001 and the establishment of the "Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)" are the concrete
results of this effort. Russia's "strategy of westward advance" does not affect Sino-Russian relationship of
strategic trust and cooperation.
There is extensive space for cooperation between China and Russia in the fields of maintaining global strategic stability, establishing multilateral armament control and disarmament as well as prevention of proliferation.
The impartial, middle-of-the-road line pursued by Russia in its relations with the United States and with China is a very important content of its foreign policy. President Vladimir Putin compares Sino-Russian relationship to "a well-adjusted big machine", its parts and components are the constantly expanding ties and exchanges in various fields, and the work of the "engine" relies on its own "energy", free from the influence of external factors. Maybe this is the best positioning of the direction of future development of Sino-Russian relationship.
In the process of the adjustment of big-powerrelations in the coming 10 years, perhaps Sino-US relations will be most
uncertain. Owing to ideological difference and the Taiwan issue, the strategic cooperation between China and the
United States is not so solid as that of the United States and Russia. The United States keeps vigilance against
China's rise, thus leading to increase in the difficulties for China and the United States to establish strategic
However, the "September 11" incident has provided a new opportunity for Sino-US strategic cooperation and the establishment of strategic trust. So far, there has been fairly tacit agreement on cooperation between the two countries in the aspects of attacking terrorism, safeguarding regional security and maintaining world economic stability; in bilateral relations, the frequent top-level mutual visits and the resumption of Sino-US military exchanges will create conditions for the two countries to establish strategic trust.
China's accession to the WTO will not only strengthen the two countries' economic inter-dependence and American
understanding of China's rise, but also will help the two countries' sense of responsibility and mission in their
common concerns about world peace and security.
There is an inherent development driving force for China and the United States to establish strategic cooperation and mutual trust, As a regional big power, China will, far from being marginalized by external factors (such as adjustment of US-Russian relations), on the contrary, will enhance its international position and its influence on international affairs thanks to its participation in big-power cooperation.
When the attack on terrorism has become the mainstream in international politics and the main content of big-power
cooperation, big-power frictions and regional conflicts will be suppressed. At the beginning of the new century,
leaders of big powers run hither and thither, vying one another to mediate national contradictions and religious
This is especially noticeable inthe Middle-East crisis, the India-Pakistan conflicts and other issue of regional security. The prevention of proliferation and other transnational issues closely related to anti-terrorist cooperation will be the fields for strengthened big-power cooperation in a period of time to come. In this sense, the "post-Cold War age" has come to an end.
Some scholars put current big-power cooperation on a par with the 19th century "Concert of Europe". A striking feature of the latter was security cooperation among the five principal European countries, namely, tsarist Russia, Britain, Austria, Prussia and France. However, compared with the concert of big European countries 100 years ago, the big-power cooperation at the beginning of the 21st century has the following new characteristics:
First, currently, there exists the United States-the superpower with long-term absolute superiority, the strengths of other countries are up here and down there with noticeable change, this is a situation of parity between non-traditional powers. Such cooperation under the background of the adjustment of big-power relations is unprecedented in history, furthermore, in the foreseeable period, it is almost impossible for the outbreak of a war among big powers.
Second, in the epoch of economic globalisation and information digitisation, the degree of inter-dependence among big power far excels that of 100 years ago. International trade and the development of technology have given an impetus to the international division of labour and to the transnational flow of capital, talent and resources. Nobody will deny the all-directional impact exerted by the "September 11" incident on the international political, economic and military situation. These characteristics constitute the foundation for current big-power cooperation.
Third, big powers are faced with common challenges at the beginning of the 21st century: that is, global or transnational issues, including terrorism, organized transnational crime, environmental protection, and economic security, they constitute the conditions for big-power cooperation.
Fourth, big-power security groups and the local integration situation are developing. The expanding NATO and EU will cover almost all the European region. The maturity of US-European relationship is conducive to the formation of big-power security groups, Russia's "European complex" has also prompted it to get close to the West. From the perspective of global level, this is a kind of unbalanced international political pattern.
The current situation of big-power security cooperation is very unstable and is fraught with unknown numbers. For
instance, whether efforts for big-power cooperation will continue to grow? How long will big-power cooperation
continue? How should one treat the contradictions and struggles among big powers?
The ensuing questions are as follows: If the momentum of big-power cooperation is suspended, whether international politics will return to the 20th century? How will these questions develop will determine the trend of the international pattern in the 21st century. To give answers to them, it is first necessary to analyse the following few major factors:
First, the trend of American unilateralist policy. Thanks to its political, economic and military advantages
unmatched by other big powers, the United States, after the happening of the "September 11" incident, forcefully
railroaded its unilateralist policy, simultaneously carried out its "anti-terrorism" and deployment of its NMD
(national missile defence), with fruitful results, so far free from any major international obstruction.
Recently, the US government dished up the "theory of striking first", giving more prominence to the will of its unilateral actions. In his recent article, Joseph Nye, director of the Kennedy Government School of Harvard University, pointed out that In US foreign policy, sometimes "unilateralism" is needed, but first of all, it is necessary to hold "multilateralism" in esteem. At the moment it is still hard to say whether the "theory of striking first" is a kind of unilateralist military tactic, or the cornerstone of US defence policy.
Second, how the relations among the political forces of China, the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan are
evolved and adjusted. In terms of the relations among China, the United States and Russia, the momentum of
US-Russian, Sino-US and Sino-Russian cooperation is jointly maintained, furthermore, any kind of bilateral
cooperation of which will not target a third party for a long period of time to come. However, under the circumstance
of the rampage of the "China threat theory", it is possible that China has to extend more efforts to face up to
pressure from the United States., whereas Russia has the intention to "resign from the leading post" in the world's
In the Asia-Pacific region, the relations among China, the United States and Japan are different. The growth of China's influence, and Japan's "complex of looking back on the past" in big-power politicsas well as the shift of US military strategic focus are likely to increase difficulty in a smooth adjustment of big-power relationship in this region. Once major crises occur in issues of regional hot spots, it is hard to say that the situation of local big-power confrontation will not emerge.
Third, the trend of the geographical-political situation. Since the United States started the war against terrorism
in Afghanistan, major changes have taken place in the geography and politics centred on the Eurasian continent. The
United States has begun to take "foothold" in the Central Asian region. India-Pakistan confrontation has given
greater show to the major geographical-political role exerted by the South Asian region.
The policy orientation of both south and north of the Korean Peninsula involves the interests of big powers. The Taiwan issue of China also exerts ever-greater influence on the adjustment of big-power relations in this region. How big-power cooperation will be is determined by geographical-political change.
If the striking features of big-power political and military relations during the Cold War period were full of
hostility and tense confrontation, and the characteristics of the last 10 years of the 20th century were the
elimination of hostility and the reduction of confrontation, then, in the beginning of the 21st century, big-power
relations have begun to enter the epoch of establishing strategic trust and avoiding confrontation.
Judged from the present condition of big-power cooperation and existing problems, big-power cooperation will be carried on at the beginning of the new century, but not smoothly. If a method for further coordination and solution of disputes in the aspect of handling mutual relations and the problem of regional security among big power can be found out, then the situation of big-power cooperation will continue on.
Otherwise, the rise and decline of big-power strengths will likely trigger more frictions among big powers and even lead to the endof the big-power cooperation situation. The development prospect for big-power cooperation in the coming 10 years is vitally important to creating the 21st century international pattern.
In the beginning of the new century, change in US-Russian relationship presages the strengthening of big-power cooperation, and the quickening of the pace of adjustment of big-power politics. In this process, China will have a lot to accomplish in foreign affairs.