The old pattern of political opposition in the world disappeared almost 30 years ago at the end of the Cold War. However, human society has not ushered in the "peaceful world".
After the "9·11" terrorist attack, the US placed counter-terrorism at the top of its strategic agenda, but it fell into a closed cycle. Coupled with the outbreak of the international financial crisis and the risk of new interventionism, the political ecology of the world has been filled with “chaos and disorder” over recent years.
In the Western world, the economic crisis caused opposition between rich and poor. As a result, social conflicts have intensified, and xenophobia, populism, and conservative trends of thought have spread.
In the international arena, the Western powers interfere in internal affairs of other countries and monopolize international affairs from time to time. Hegemonism and power politics are still the major obstacles to the democratization of international relations.
The Western world needs reflection and the US view that emphasizes "priority" and "first" in all matters needs the most serious reflection. Persistence in finding enemies and opponents is the product of the long-term struggle mentality model of the US after World War II.
Looking back at the history of political development in the US and the world since the end of the Cold War, we should also realize that the US failed to make full use of its own power and influence to benefit the international community. Instead, it followed the logic of dominance and confrontation.
American academics and political elites advocated civilized conflicts, launched the war on terror, vigorously exported democracy to the outside world, and provoked the "color revolutions". Eventually, the US became the source of political chaos and the troublemaker in the world.
The mistakes made by the US and other Western countries and the chaotic reality of global politics have led more and more countries to realize the negative effects and harms of "American thinking".
As a major emerging power, China has been avoiding “fighting” with other countries including the US, and instead has focused its efforts on promoting common development with the world.
However, the US and a handful of Western powers have never given up on the old logic of confrontation between big powers to view China’s development. Prior to the recent introduction of "sharp power," the offenses against China’s various soft powers have never been unusual. As the "China decline" remark gradually lost its market in recent years, there have been different "trap” and "responsibility" theories used against China.
Regardless of the "Thucydides trap" that predicts that there must be war between major powers, or the "Kindleberger trap" that emphasizes China’s greater responsibility, the ultimate goal is to reduce the pressure on the US, force China to assume international responsibility that is inconsistent with its capabilities and delay China's rise as much as possible.
In this regard, China must remain sober-headed and ensure its own legitimate rights and interests on the basis of transcending the logic of major power confrontation while contributing to global development and maintaining international order.
Over the past few decades, China has taken a broad view of the world, paid particular attention to the integration of developing countries and emerging economies that are eager to develop, and maximized its comparative advantages. It has sought to share its reform and development experience with the international community.
An extremely striking contrast is that although in the vast developing regions of the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, the large US-led countries have been sparing no effort to export so-called democracy, the result has been counterproductive, not only failing to bring about democracy and prosperity, but also bringing to many countries and regions political turmoil, failed governance, and chaos. What China has brought to these regions has been sincere efforts to promote peace, development and prosperity.
The rise and revival of contemporary China should be able to surpass the confrontational logic of the traditional major powers in modern times based on the long historical cycle and the development of international power in the future.
On one hand, the renaissance of contemporary China is not based on the US and other Western countries. It is based on China’s own historical and realistic logic. China’s "harmony" cultural tradition and the tragic experience of being bullied by the great powers in modern times have made China cherish the environment for peace and development, so that it is reasonable to abandon Western-style confrontational thinking.
On the other hand, today's increasingly multi-polarized trends have profoundly changed the comparison of international forces. Although the hegemonic position of the US will remain for some time, it is no longer the same and the US does not have the capability to easily influence the world's pattern.
The current US government continues to hold the banner of "US first" and frequently criticizes and even rudely interferes with other countries and regions. But under the growing weight of maintaining the balance and peace of the world, the hegemonic space is constantly being compressed.
As a world in which the US can no longer meddle gradually takes shape, members of the international community, including China, should be ready to welcome a world without hegemony. In this way, transcending the old logic of major power confrontation also means embracing a brand-new world with a broader perspective and structure.
Of course, transcending the logic of the confrontation between major powers is by no means blindly evading the competition between nations. It is not about not fighting against bullies or going quietly into the night.
In the past and at the current stage, countries and nations, especially major countries, are the protagonists of competition in the international arena. In the face of fierce competition, they feel compelled to fight in order to safeguard their interests. China needs to clearly understand that the revolutionary changes in international patterns and strength have indeed provided the rising China with opportunities and an environment to transcend some old logic.
The 20th century has passed and the Western binary opposition, zero-sum, old way of doing things, and the world view have all declined. China has enough confidence and capability to work with others to build a community of shared future for mankind and join people of all countries in welcoming and embracing a new globalized and diversified world without hegemonism.
The authors are Zhang Shuhua, director of the Institute of Information Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Zhao Weitao, postdoctoral researcher of the Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.