Source: Global Times
Photo taken in Arlington, Virginia, the US on August 20 shows screens displaying images of Joe Biden speaking in a video feed of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Photo: Xinhua
US president-elect Joe Biden declared Tuesday that the US is “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it” while introducing his foreign policy and national security teams. His remarks have been widely reported and regarded as a declaration that he will make major changes to diplomacy. Obviously, the Biden team will be seeking to amend relations with allies to restore US global leadership.
Given the Trump administration’s insistence on the “America First” doctrine and isolationist practices of withdrawing from various international groups and treaties, there will be many ways for Biden to restore US global leadership. It will also not be very difficult for the US and Europe to create a more harmonious atmosphere than the Trump era. But the Biden team must answer one question: What do they want to “lead the world” to do?
If the Biden team wants to strengthen the US’ rule on the world and unite allies against China by reinforcing foreign relations, especially ties with allies to consolidate the US hegemony, they will greatly deviate from international trends. What they will be doing will simply be just a replica of the “America First” ploy.
To play a leading role, the Biden team must first help the world resolve real problems. It should prioritize urgent issues concerning international society instead of luring the world to address what America needs most. Leaders must make more contributions and promote public welfare, rather than bring everyone together for selfish private interests.
The US must truly help the international community eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the most pressing matter of the moment. The Trump administration’s wrong-headed policies have led pandemic to rage across the US. Washington has also shirked its responsibilities in the global fight against the pandemic. These all require the Biden government to invest resources to make remedies one by one. When it comes to climate change, the situation is similar.
Besides curbing the pandemic, another overwhelming common desire of all countries around the world is to realize better development. As the risk of war has been greatly reduced amid global opposition against force, development has become a more urgent issue than security for many countries. The US needs to help other countries create better development conditions, and serve as a driving force. It should not stir up geopolitical conflicts everywhere and force security confrontations that could be avoided.
The US also needs to resume its support for globalization. It should consult with other countries about the rules of globalization and not arrogantly place its own interests above the common interests of the world. Globalization has led to complicated and close entanglements related to national and international interests. The US can only “lead the world” to move forward based on the integration of the interests of all countries.
Biden’s team will be judged based on how constructive they are with the China-US competition. China-US relations concern the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the whole world. Major US allies all have extensive cooperation with China. If China-US relations don’t further fragment, they will have room to defend their own national interests. Strengthening alliances with the US does not mean they have to cut off cooperation with China.
A majority of countries don’t want the world to slip into a new cold war. The Biden team needs to face up to the international situation — it’s not the same as a few decades ago. The US will have to explore new ways to manage differences, seek coexistence, and win-win strategies with countries including China and Russia. It needs to avoid recklessly intensifying major power confrontation as the Trump administration did. America needs to realize that it has to build up a bottom line for world peace, making all countries feel assured. In other words, a greater US role in the world should bring more peace and predictability. It should avoid making further turbulence and strategic confrontations with the world. Only by that, can the US’ propositions be more accepted.
The US often accuses China of trying to replace the US’ dominance in rulemaking. China has never had such a zero-sum mind-set. With the expansion of China’s economy, it is China’s inalienable right to participate in rule making with other countries. The process of formulating rules cannot be exclusive. No matter how it might be done, efforts to isolate China are doomed to be futile.