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The U.S. Doesn’t Need a New Cold War

Robert B. Zoellick
 

By Robert B. Zoellick (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“The U.S. approach toward China now relies on confrontation and accusation. Yet in diplomacy, as in war, the other side gets a vote. On May 22 China will convene two of its annual summits, the National People’s Congress and the Political Consultative Conference. The Communist Party will choreograph messages carefully: The collapse of communism in the Soviet Union casts a long shadow in Beijing, and Covid-19 came close to shaking the party’s legitimacy. In Chinese history, diseases, famines and other natural disasters have foretold the end of dynasties.

President Xi Jinping will want the gatherings to herald China’s relative success in handling the virus, its emerging economic recovery, and its role in a global “community of shared interests,” as he has previously called the world order. He needs to moderate Beijing’s propaganda overreach and its emissaries’ heavy-handed responses to critics. Chinese historians recall that past spasms of patriotic and party fervor—the Boxer Rebellion and the Cultural Revolution—scared the world.

How will the U.S. respond? The proponents of a “New Cold War” have declared their objections to China, but not what they plan to accomplish. When I worked with Secretary of State James Baker during the closing years of the old Cold War, we focused on what we wanted to get done—results, not mere expressions of dissatisfaction.”

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