Text: Wang Huiyao in dialogue with Joseph Nye

On April 28th, Professor Joseph Nye’s new book, Soft Power and Great-Power Competition: Shifting Sands in the Balance of Power between the United States and China, published in English by Springer Nature and in Chinese by CITIC Press, was released at CCG. The book is another heavyweight work in the “China and Globalization” book series edited by Dr. Huiyao Wang and Dr. Lu Miao. During the event, Professor Joseph Nye and CCG President Dr. Huiyao Wang  had  the following dialogue:







There is a competitive aspect of soft power, but there can also be a cooperative aspect of soft power

Wang Huiyao: It’s really a great honor to see our old friend, Professor Joseph Nye again. Also, we are very pleased to be joined by the chief editor of CITIC, and the chief editors of Springer Nature in Asia and China. And of course, with many CCG fellows and media representatives from China. Also, we’re going to put this event video later on line throughout the world. So thank you Joseph very much again for taking your time to attend this book release event for both English and Chinese version, global release. I was really impressed with what Joseph just mentioned that we are in an unprecedented world situation, and we probably never see in the history of such a great power rivalry competition that pose to the humankind we never experienced before. So this is really a critical moment now, and that’s why I think we are refreshing but also updating with Professor Nye’s idea of soft power, and competition and cooperation between China and the US is extremely important. And I really thank you for your thought to contribute to this great book. CCG, my center, is really honored to translate the whole book. And in the book included a dialogue we had about a year ago. That’s very important at current context. Now, we had the economic boom, we had all the prosperities, but now it seems that we still got greatly divided. So how can we mend differences? How can we really make these things to work in China and US. I think that’s where soft power, that’s where all the culture, all the history, all the tradition, that’s all the people to people exchanges, academics and think tanks, NGOs and all those have to act together now, to really make this relationship more cooperative. So I would like to start with Professor Nye that you’ve been the father of the soft power theory. This is really a great coined term. Then with this increasing competition contest between China and US, so where can we do to improve on both sides, on the soft power, to really have more convergency rather than divergency. So we need some new ideas and new thoughts. And how can we get better in understanding that China now is trying to be quite a bit more internationally, provide more public goods, like quite a few Initiatives, such as Global Development Initiative, Global Civilization Initiative and Global Security Initiative. And China is more actively engaged now in making a peace between Ukraine and Russia. And President Xi just spoke to President Zelensky a few days ago. So what do you see now as in this big context of rivalry and competition, but also, very importantly, cooperation are between China and US, and how can we both improve that? So we need some advice from you, too, please.

Joseph Nye: Well, those are great questions, Henry. I would say that there are aspects of soft power which are part of the competition. China supports a project in Africa under The Belt and Road Initiative that is designed to make China more attractive. And similarly, when the USAID, Agency for International Development, supports a project in Africa that is designed to make the US more attractive, so that aspect of soft power can be part of the rivalry. In others, it’s competitive. On the other hand, the point that I was trying to make in my comments is that there is an aspect of soft power, which can be joint again, and that’s when China feels more attracted to the US and the US feels more attracted to China, and that’s the thing that will enhance our ability to cooperate. Our ability to compete is quite obvious. There’s too much of it right now. The question is, how can we increase our ability to cooperate? And I am a big believer in increased people-to-people contacts, so more students, more journalists, more tourists. I think these visits, in both directions are helpful in developing soft power. It’s not that one doesn’t complain about the other country, but one understands the other country. And it’s harder to demonize another people if you have actually had personal contact with. So I would stress that there is a competitive aspect of soft power, but there can also be a cooperative aspect of soft power. And people contact? So I would start with more people-to-people contacts.


There will be competition, but it’s important to have guardrails on the competition

Wang Huiyao: Thank you, Professor Nye. That’s an excellent point. I think you’re right. Before the pandemic, actually a few years ago in the past, that China and the US used to have 5 million tourists and various exchanges between China and the United States. Currently, we have still 300,000 Chinese students registered in the US universities, but there’s only a few hundred US students registered in China. So this Covid has really done a lot of damages for those exchanges. So you’re right. We have to work together. You mentioned about healthy competition, and cooperation and the soft power, which is great. That’s probably the positive thing that we need to push forward, for example, how to cooperate on the climate change, how to cooperate on the pandemic fighting, how to control the nuclear proliferation, and how to promote more Global South Development and things like that, development aid and like China also set up AIIB, could be all those good areas that we need more cooperation. One thing you mentioned, I was quite impressed during our conversation about a year ago, is that you mentioned there seems to be a cycle about every 20 years, that we may reach a new equilibrium, or new point of change. For example, when China and US, before diplomatic ties established, there’s a lot of containment, there’s a lot of Cold War mentality going on. But then after 20 some years, we started to relax and became more friendly and cooperative. But again, now we are having all those difficulties again, it seems that more and more misunderstanding and mistrust have been built up. So what do you think about when China and US can probably reach a new equilibrium, or maybe finally we have to say: look, we got to live together, because we’re having this unprecedented challenge facing the mankind. We cannot do it by just ourselves. We have to work together. And then by that time in the process, we have to avoid this hard war and gradually build up the understanding so probably by 2035 or 2040, we can say: okay, we really have to live together, and we cannot separate. So what do you think about this? How long is thetime for this difficult period, and how can we overcome this challenge in time?

Joseph Nye: Well, I think you’re right that if we look back on the pure US China relations in the 70 years, since 1949, seven decades. The first two decades, we’re open hostility. We even fought each other on the Korean Peninsula. And then that’s followed by the period in the 1970s into the early 1980s after Nixon and Mao met or the US and China cooperated because of concerned about the Soviet Union. And that’s followed under the economic policies of Deng Xiaoping, with a period of economic engagement, which culminated in some ways with the US support for China joining the World Trade Organization in 2001. And that period of engagement continues up until about 2015 or 2016, when the stress or emphasis becomes on great power competition.

And, roughly speaking, these different periods have been a decade or two each. Now, if you date this most recent period from about 2016 or 2017, you can say that we’re six or seven years into the current period of great power competition. And who knows whether it will take two decades for us to see our way through this. History is not deterministic. We can also make mistakes of making decisions that put things in the wrong directions.

I think in this current period, the important thing will be to realize that there will be competition, but it’s important to have guardrails on the competition, to make sure that we have constant communication with each other at the highest levels, and we understand what each other’s red lines are, and we also understand not getting ourselves into a crisis situation.

So I think the current period is likely to last for another decade or so, though nobody can be sure. But, we have to make sure that we wind up working together to make sure that things don’t get out of hand. And that’s often summarized by the term guardrail, on road, to make sure we don’t go off the road.

There will be some selective decoupling, but we should not let it spill over into allusions

Wang Huiyao: Thank you. Actually, that’s right. I mean, I think during the Bali Summit last November, when President Xi and President Biden met, they said they will begin to establish some guidelines for the bilateral relations. We were expecting some high level visits, but unfortunately that’s not happened. And I think it’s important to have this high level visit on both sides, and rather than the Taiwan authorities’ visiting the US. So how can we increase this dialogue and also no decoupling? Because now we see the US is now proposing the Chinese policy to compete, so there’s a lack of cooperation. And there’s not much cooperation going on. There’s a lot of rivalry going on. So what do you think of this? Are we getting into the Cold War? Are we really getting decoupled? Because of what we’ve seen lately, there’s CHIPS Act, and there are new Congress policies aimed at China. So probably we should have more visits, not only at the administration (level) , but even at the Congressman level, I mean also the Senators. I wrote a piece of Op-Ed to the South China Morning Post just about two weeks ago to welcome the US congressmen and senators to pay their visit to China. And vice versa. We can have China NPC delegates and CPPCC members to visit United States so that we can have all level dialogues, rather than just at government. We haven’t seen the the minister level visit. Last time, the Secretary of US State Department visiting China is more than five years ago. So what do you think about this high level visit? And are we really economically decoupling, or are we getting some kind of Cold Cold War frontier? How can we avoid that? It’s a question that we often ask.

Joseph Nye: I think when we talk about decoupling, we’re often speak to a wide range of inter-dependencies. In the great power competition, there will be decoupling in some areas which are seen as central for security. Americans, for example, are suspicious about the security implications of allowing a company like Huawei or ZTE to build American 5G communication systems. And similarly, China has not allowed American social media companies to operate freely in China, the Googles of this world. So it’s understandable that when their security concerned, there may be decoupling in those areas.

The important thing would be to have discussions in this overall economic relationship. Here are some areas where each of us will say, for security reasons, we are not going to allow the deep integration or interdependence to exist. But there are some other areas where we should say these don’t have security implications, like trade, grains or solar panels. And we’re not going to interfere with that. And then there will be some areas in between which will be disputed as to whether their security or not. And those we could set up special arrangements for discussion as to how we will each treat them. That’s the type of approach to decoupling. Not to say it’s all or nothing, but to say, how can we make sure that it doesn’t spread too far.

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen gave a quite good speech in the last week, which suggested something along these lines of approach.

I reject the idea of calling this a new Cold War, because while there’s intense competition, there is a high degree of interdependence, both economic and ecological, that never existed during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

So I think there are procedures we can take, to make sure we have dialogues in specific ways that don’t let decoupling go too far. And I think that these probably would be bolstered by having more regular meetings by the highest political leaders by President Xi and President Biden. But it has to be at many levels at the same time. So I think we should get away from seeing the issue as do decouple or not decouple. There will be some selective decoupling, but we should not let it spill over into allusions that widespread decoupling would do a great harm to both of our economies and to the world economy. And as I mentioned earlier, in the area of ecological interdependence, it’s meaningless to talk about decoupling. Carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere and we don’t know how to decouple or avoid crossing borders.

knit the world together at the practical working level of the scientists and others, economists, engineers

Wang Huiyao: You are right. We are really deeply associated with each other in the climate and carbon dioxide emissions. We can not decouple it. I mean China and the US have been the two largest emitters of the carbon dioxide. We have to work together. And also, same for the pandemic. The virus knows no borders. I remember last time when we talked together, you talk about that the US and China may set up global foundation for fighting pandemic. But unfortunately that’s not happened. So there’s no cooperration, and we have big casualties and devastating to the economy probably for both countries.

In the global governance level, I mean, UN has been there for 78 years now, and WTO has been there for a long time, World Bank, IMF, all those infrastructure that US used to be so active in leading. It is not that active now and even withdrew from some of them, like Trump used to withdraw from WHO, and from TPP and things like that. So how do you think that we are getting in a multi-polar world? Of course, the uni-polar world is efficient and effective. There’s one big country driving everything, all agendas. But now we’re having a multi-polar world. At least we have a G3 world now, China, the US and the EU. With this kind of a multi-polar world, let’s focus more on the south part, and then how can we really fund infrastructure wisely, and on the global governance structure to make sure all the major players can talk. Because right now we have only G20 and that is more on economic aspect. But then we see a lot of regional size of security alliance that started up. So it’s really a confrontation to the multilateral system to some extent. So how can we set a better multilateral system to fit the reality of this multi-polar world, if it’s already happening?

Joseph Nye: Let me start by saying I think President Trump was a step backward for the United States. I think he did not serve our interests or global interest by the steps he took. I think it’s interesting that President Biden has reversed many of those steps that Trump took, e.g. rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, or rejoining the World Health Organization. But during pandemics, the World Health Organization, can’t, as a bureaucracy, solve these problems, but it can act as a facilitator of relations between both the U.S. and China and other countries at the scientist level. E.g., to go back to my earlier case, when we looked at SARS in the early 2000s, there was an extraordinary amount of cooperation between Chinese and American scientists and other nationalities as well, which was aided by the WHO, which led to a great deal of cooperation which made SARS did not spread. When we got to COVID, we didn’t have that cooperation, and COVID spread. I think the answer there is, let’s find ways to let the scientists work more freely with each other. The WHO can be one of the helpful devices to do that. But it’s going to require also greater scientists-to-scientists cooperation. Another example to go back to the climate example, is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which essentially is a panel of scientists for around the world, which just recently produced its latest report on the situation of the problems of climate change, and warned us that things are worse than we expected. The important thing about the Intergovernmental Panel is that its scientists were highly respected from many countries, and therefore their advice is more likely to be taken. We can think about the high level political relationships you mentioned, things like AUKUS or the QUAD and so forth, but I think we also have to think about beginning to knit the world together at the practical working level of the scientists and others, economists, engineers. Hopefully some day we will find that the competition eases and that can expand. But at this stage, given the problems of the competition, I’d focus on seeing if we can’t enhance those contexts, such as we had with in the period of SARS, or such as we see now in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

President Xi’s phone call with President Zelensky is a very important step in the right direction

Wang Huiyao: Thank you. Absolutely. You’re right. I think that SARS and Ebola, all of those good examples that we used to work together, that we have them successfully contained, and COVID-19 is a disaster for the whole world that stop China for three years of no international travel, so did it to many other countries. Why we’re having those more politic security alliances? Let’s have more other alliances too, in scientific alliances, educational alliances, economic alliances, trade alliances, so there maybe opportunities of cooperation. That seems to be depressed, since we may be emphasized more on the security, on the competition. The cooperation side of it really diminished quite a lot. So I agree with you that we need to revive people to people exchanges, scientists exchanges, scholar exchanges, organizational and culture exchanges and exchanges in all aspects, (particularly) opinion leader like you, and many others in the world. I was at Munich Security Conference in Februray, CCG held a big side event there, and there are more than 20 US scholars, think tank experts, and officials attending. I remember Graham Allison, your Harvard colleague. He said, now we’re talking too much about competition, and then let’s talk about cooperation. At least we should talk about cooperation as frequent as competition. I agree with him and you too. I think we are in this multi-polar world, at least getting there. So China is expected to play more roles. And we see the crisis, this Russian-Ukraine war going on. We have nine of the European leaders visiting China and all want to call on China to be more active on the Russian-Ukraine conflict and crisis. China is really forthcoming now. And Chinese President Xi just talked to President Zelensky two days ago, and China actually started going to send envoy to visit Kyiv and probably other countries, and Moscow included, to really try to work with the international community to save the peace process to be established. So what do you think about this big threat we’re having now? Is this possibly a nuclear war? And China said in a peace proposal, no nuclear war, no nuclear weapons should be used, no bombing of civilians and children, women and sovereignty integrity should be emphasized. That’s what President Xi said to President Zelensky as well. So what do you think about this? How can we work this out? I had an OP-ED on the New York Times about one year ago, and I was calling for a seven party talk, maybe the UN permanent five countries, plus Ukraine, plus the EU. let’s have peace summit of some kind. And how to solve this crisis. We have been plagued by this war for over a year now. So how long are we going to survive this huge disruption upon us? And you are a great expert in security. Please share your view on this, before we open up for audience for questions.

Joseph Nye: I applaud President Xi’s phone call with President Zelensky. I think that was very important step in the right direction. I hope that a voice will be sent. And I also agree with the statements that President Xi made. But I frankly think we have to speak to the fact that Russia crossed a border into an independent country and now is controlling nearly 1/5 of that country. So if we just have a cease fire which leaves Russia in control of that country, one fifth of it. It’s not going to be adequate because it violates the basic norms of the United Nations. And in that sense, I’m a little disappointed that China hasn’t been more critical of Russia for its actions. But if China can now be a mediator, and if it can persuade the Russians to give back some of the territory that they’ve taken by force that would be an enormous benefit to the world, and would also greatly increase china’s soft power in the Europe and in the United States and elsewhere. So this is why I’m very pleased to see the phone call between President Xi and President Zelensky. But it’ll have to go further than it has gone so far. And it’s going to have to take a more active role in trying to press Russia to give back some of the territories that have taken. So I think the danger I see, is that this war could go on and on for a long time. That’s bad for Ukraine, it’s bad for Russia, it’s bad for the world. So I would love in trying to bring about peace in Ukraine.

Wang Huiyao: Great. You’re right. I’m very pleased to hear that you mentioned China’s mediating role as a kind of soft power of China. And the same is true for China to broker this peace between Saudi Arabian and and Iranian, they’ve been now in direct talks and established diplomatic ties and resume all embassy activity. I think China could do more and you are right. And if China can do more on this, China can not only quickly enhance international soft power, but also improve relations with the Western countries and many developing countries.

The only way in which China and US can destroy each other’s country or basically be a threat to our existence, is if we blunder into war

Wang Huiyao: You know, we have a big audience today. Many people know that you are going to give a talk to us, and we’re going to release your book. We have collected quite a number of questions. Because of your publication in China, Chinese press are so much attentive and also pay a lot of attention. So we collect some questions. I’ll just mention a few of them. For example, there is a question from Global Times, a media in China. He said that in your new book, Soft Power and Great-Power Competition: Shifting Sands in the Balance of Power Between the United States and China, you said, the US-China relationship should maintain a “cooperative rivalry”, in which the terms of competition will require equal attention to both sides of the oxymoron. How would you describe the current China-US ties? And what are the things that can be done to improve that? You know, if US can also think about this cooperative rivalry, then probably cooperation is still emphasized. And also, he said, you stress that China does not pose an existential threat to the US. And the two should maintain engagement and cooperation. So what is your strong argument to that stance, different from quite some other American media views that we often hear of? China also mentioned about Global Civilization Initiative, what do you think of its prospect? Is that related with soft power? This is one media question. I just mentioned a few of them.

Joseph Nye: Let me start. There are series of interesting questions there. Let me start with the basic question of will there be in cooperation of the rivalry of the United States poses a threat to the existence of China, and whether China poses a threat to the existence of the United States. And my answer to that is no, China is too big for the United States to change it or to control it, and the US is too big for China to change it or control it. So in that sense, it’s not as though either of our countries poses the threat to the existence of the other. The only way in which we can destroy each other’s country or basically be a threat to our existence, is if we blunder into war. And if you look back in history, he threats that some people in America are thinking about are China attacking the US like Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. That to me, is not the threat that China poses to the US. The threat is more like 1914, in which the European group great powers thought they were going to have a very short, sharp war in which the troops would be home by Christmas time, and everything would clear up. And instead they wound up with four years of a terrible war that killed over 10 million people and destroyed for Empire. To me, the danger is of existential danger or each other, is that we blunder like 1914, not that one of us attacks the other like 1941. And I think that’s why what we talked about earlier, about guard rails is so important. I think to get this cooperation going, we’re going to have to have more meetings like the one that President Shidy and President Biden had in Bali. But it’s going to have to become more regular, not the occasional event. And if the two presidents emphasize the importance of cooperation, that will essentially send a signal to the bureaucracy. I think that we don’t pose existential threats to each other, but if we are not attentive and blunder into the war, we could. And the way to avoid that is by having the two presidents indicate that they want the two societies, two governments, to set up pretty frequent communication and also guardrails. So that, to me, is the is the biggest question, the of the of the ones that you just posed.

Declineism is a danger to both sides

Wang Huiyao: Thank you. That’s really a great point. You know, we are now probably not in 1941, Pearl Harbor situation, but probably more 1914, the accidental conflict that could trigger off. So that’s very important that we have more frequent dialogue, high-level visit, and also, you know, a whole society approach to adding the cohesion of both countries to avoid that. That’s really a good point. Now, I have another question from CGTN, one of the major news channels in China. So, CGTN mentioned, In one of your speeches a decade ago, you mentioned how the narrative of “one nation is rising, the other is falling” comes out almost every few years, but it does not necessarily reflect reality but people’s mentality. For example, many predicted it was the end for the US in 2008 during the financial crisis, but it didn’t. Now a decade later, a similar narrative comes again, many believe China is rising and the US is falling, and probably will replace the US, given several major international events have taken place. Do you think this time it’s still not the reality? What are the variables for the China-US relations? Maybe it’s a similar question, but certainly there’s a new angle to this.

Joseph Nye: Well, I think if you look back at American foreign policy over the last 70 years, it’s interesting to see that the Americans themselves think that they’re declining about every 10 or 20 years. This was true when we thought that Russia was ahead of us when that launched Sputnik. It was true when after the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s. It occurs again when japan’s economy does well in the 1980s. The Americans are always thinking they’re in decline. Trump is if other people believe it, because you noticed, even though there were worries every decade, the Americans did not decline. It’s still the largest economy in the world and still the strongest military in the world. So it’s a great mistake to think about American decline. And my impression is that after the 2008 economic crisis, which started in the US, there was a widespreadue in China that the US was now in decline. And this is when China drops Donxiao ping’s cautious approach to foreign policy, and that in turn makes Americans more anxious and nervous, and it helps to scope this period of a great power rival that we’re facing Now. I think it would be a much healthier relationship if we got rid of these issues about rise and decline and just said, how can we both make sure we don’t blunder into something that’s disastrous? So declineism, whether it’s in American belief or whether it’s in Chinese belief, I think is a danger to both of us.

There are opportunities for China to increase its soft power, but there are also obstacles that have to be overcome

Wang Huiyao: Yeah, that’s interesting. Actually, that’s right. We shouldn’t have those decline or collapse and things like that. We were still talking about China’s collapse about 20 years. China was still developing. So that’s an interesting point. We should get rid of this decline school of thought, let’s arise altogether. And that is probably a healthy way of looking at it. And you’re absolutely right. I have another question from People’s Daily. You have mentioned diplomacy is an important part of the soft power, and that the effective combination of soft power and hard power can produce “smart power”. So this year, China has caught the attention of the whole world in the diplomatic arena. A case in point is that, of course, this Saudi-Iran reconciliation, and also peaceful proposal to the Ukraine crisis. And also, of course, a number of European leaders are now visiting China, including President Macron. And China also proposed the” Global Civilization Initiative” and many others. So what do you think about China being more active now in those international arena? Would that be a kind of soft power to maintain existing international order? How can we get more smart powers out of this in your view, please?

Joseph Nye: Well, it’s a good question. I think the steps that China has taken, such as encouraging the talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East, is very healthy. It’s good for the region. It’s also good for China’s soft power. And similarly, I think, as we mentioned a few minutes ago, the efforts that President Xi is taking to work with President Zelensky to see if we can advance the chances of a peace agreement in Ukraine, as I said, is good for those countries like Ukraine, but also good for Chinese soft power. So I think a positive Chinese attitude is welcomed. On the other hand, there are situations where China has conflicts with its neighbor, for example, there are conflicts with India over the border in the Himalayas. And it doesn’t do any good to set up a Confucius Institute in New Delhi to express the beauties of traditional Chinese culture if there are Chinese and Indians killing each other on the border in the Himalayas. And that’s why, if you look at attitudes in India toward China over the last few years, China has become less attractive rather than more attractive. So China will have to figure out ways to manage its border conflicts. It’s not enough just to produce peace in the Middle East or in Ukraine. It also has to do it nearby, with its own neighbors, with whom it has border disputes. There are, I think, opportunities for China to increase its soft power. But there are also obstacles that have to be overcome, and it will be interesting to see if China can overcome those obstacles. Also, in addition to the peacemaking efforts, there was a period recently which was sometimes called “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy, in which China flouted its strength. Such diplomacy, it might be domesticlly atteactive. We are domestically. It’s very bad international politics in the sense that it antagonizes others. So China has the capacity to increase its soft power in ways which are good for the rest of the world, but it also has some liabilities that’s gonna have to overcome if it’s firmly to develop a smart power.

Cooperation in areas with high interdependence has spillover effects

Wang Huiyao: Yes, sometimes, we have misunderstanding, mistrust on both sides, and that sometimes drive up the nationalism, populism. So there’s large domestic audience they have to respond. And so absolutely, I think the way to solve that is really to get more dialogues, more visits, more communication, so that we can really diminish those populism, nationalism in both countries, so that we can have a better position to dialogue with each other. I have another question from Beijing News. You said that that the US-China relation should be a “cooperative rivalry”, but in reality, it seems like cooperation between the two countries has been overshadowed by rivalry these days. Besides, there are many unexpected incidents provoking disputes between the two countries. So, in your opinion, what does the relation between US and China need to do the most now? And how can this relationship not be easily affected by unexpected incidents so as to move forward to a healthy “cooperative rivalry” relationship? So, from your perspective, which are the areas the two countries should cooperate, and also there will be more favorable competition rather than negative competition. So this is Beijing News’ question.

Joseph Nye: Well, it’s a good question. And I’ve suggested some areas, uh ecological inter dependence, where we could try to stress cooperation. And if we get more cooperation in those areas, it might have a spillover effect, in the sense which are good for the relationship overall, that we can get over what went wrong, We should think about making sure that areas, this famous of Chinese surveillance balloon that flew over American military sites in Northwestern United States and led to the shooting down of the balloon. Chinese said this was an accident. US thinks it was deliberate. There ought to be a way in which we discussed that. And the fact is that the incident interfered with Secretary of State Blinken’s trip to Beijing, indicates the dangers of lack of communication. There should have been a way in which we could have, let’s say, cancelling Blinken’s trip be retored. Personally, I think we should pave the way for Blinken’s trip. Those are basically examples, some from the area of cooperation, where our interdependence is great, which could set examples for other aspects of the relationship. And in others, in security areas, ways in which we are communicating with each other, so the small incidents don’t become large incidents.

Leaders should see if they can set example and use some of the areas where there could be a good example of cooperation to spill over into other areas

Wang Huiyao: Great. I think that’s a good advice. We should engage and talk more of it not only in the sensitive security, but also we need to have a mechanism to talk to each other and to prevent the small incidents to blow into large incidents. And we should reduce the suspicion on both sides as well. Okay, now we have one of the prime-time media in China: CCTV, the Chinese version. And we actually had a reporter here among the audience, and he has a question that would like to raise. Maybe we ask the CCTV reporter to raise the question directly, please.

Huang Da(from CCTV): Thank you, the host. Thank you, Mr. Nye, and I’ve read you books, which published at early nineties, many years ago, and I’m keeping reading your books. So it is a great honor that we can talk face to face today. So I think today you’ve answered a lot of questions with the word “should”, but I’m more curious about the reason, which means I’m asking the questions why and how? So you’ve put forward the idea that the United States and China do not pose the threat to each other, but can benefit from the cooperation. So how did you come out with this idea, with this point of view? And as you defined the US and China relations as the cooperative rivalry, but recently we see more rivalry actions, especially from the United States, rather than the cooperation. So my question is, why does that happen? And what is the basis for the corporation between the United States and China? And in which areas should and can the both sides cooperate at the present time? Thank you.

Joseph Nye: Well, I think at a very basic level, the answer your question is that there has been an increased in nationalism feeling in both countries. You see this in the United States with the election of Donald Trump, and you see it in China with what I earlier referred to as period of wolf-warrior diplomacy. So I think there is a danger that arises from too much nationalism. I think that can lead us to what you said to focus on, from the rivalry, and not enough on the cooperation. What I suggested was that, the leaders should see if they can set example and use some of the areas where there could be a good example of cooperation to spill over into other areas. And in addition to that, the idea of more people-to-people exchange, and scientists-to-scientists exchange, can help to develop this capacity for cooperation. But I think we have to be realistic and say that, in the current period, there is a greater tendency for nationalistic demonization of the other country, rather than for emphasis the attractiveness of the other country. And I think of the media companies themselves play a very important role in that in terms of how the other side is presented. And I think that’s true in in both countries. So those are a number of steps that I think are practical steps we could begin to take.

Wang Huiyao: Thank you, Joseph. I think that we almost come to the end of our book release event and our dialogues and discussions. After one year since we last talk, I think you had some great new thoughts, particularly these two books that both in English and Chinese and released worldwide. It is such a rational, more reasoning voice that we can still hear. I agree with you. Of course that the world is getting unprecedented into a new developed area, and yet we are not seeing the cohesion, but then we are seeing a division that is widening. So how to make up these differences? Returning to the more soft power approach is more preferable. That’s the message I got from you. We need to use more culture, more heritage, more people-to-people exchange, educational exchange, scientists exchange and tourism, and the student exchanges, and journalistic exchanges too. And on top of that, more high-level visits and dialogues, like the Congress members, parliament members and all those people in all fields. So a whole society approach is a representation of some soft power. That’s what we really need these days, rather than we are having all hard power and infrastructure in place. The harder alliance is shaping. We need more soft alliance, more soft power alliance, and more cooperation with the global South. And we should show the responsibility of the leading economies in the world by working together to fight the common threat of pandemic and climate change and nuclear proliferation and prevent the 3rd World War. All those are crucial. And that’s also, again, goes back to our soft power and smart powers. And you have been reminding us how dangerous the world we are living now. If this danager is not reminded, we may be sleeping walk into an isolated big conflict and even 3rd World War. So I think absolutely right. We need to revive this soft and smart power, and that’s why we highly recommend these two books to our readers, both in China and internationally. And I’m also very pleased to see chief editor Hong Yonggang from CITIC Press. He’s still here throughout the process. And also China Director Leana Li from Springer Nature still here for this whole process. And also, William, our publisher from Springer Nature in Singapore, which is a leading publisher and one of the largest publishers in the world, which particularly has a high impact on academic, university and think tank fields. His huge impact on big downloads and with thousands of libraries, on network throughout the world. They’re very impressive. So Joe, probably will give you the final word before we conclude. Really appreciate you taking the time to join us today.

Joseph Nye: Well, my final word starts with thank you, Henry, for being the inspiration of putting this all together. And my thanks to CITIC and to Springer for the good work of producing the book. And my hope is that perhaps, as people take these ideas seriously in both countries, we can meet perhaps in a year or two and have a somewhat better world and better US China relationship that we’re seeing right now. So with that, those notes of gratitude and hope, I’ll sign off for this evening.

Wang Huiyao: Okay. Good. Thank you. So again, thank you, professor Nye and I, and also, thank you, Mr. Hong. chief at the CITIC Press and Leana. and of course, William both from Springer Nature and also our friends and media representative that all come here today. And as you know, it’s approaching the May 1 Golden holiday of China. But we still got the full room of participants, to CCG comferencr room in Beijing, and also for our translators of Joseph‘s great book. So thanks Joe, we’ll keep in touch. We’d love to see you in China. And if you come to Beijing this year, we love to host you at the CCG again.


Note: The above text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. It is posted as a reference for the discussion.


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