‘Shared destiny’ will refute US supremacism


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‘Shared destiny’ will refute US supremacism


      This article was written by John Ross, he is a professor at Renmin University. And published on Global Times Published on May 24 2015.


      Chinese President Xi Jinping has advanced his vision of a "community of shared destiny" as being central for China`s foreign policy from his first visit abroad as head of state to major speeches this year at the Boao Forum and the Bandung Asian-African Summit. It stands in contrast to the "zero-sum game" concept of US neocons and others. 


      The idea of a community of shared destiny will play a leading role in China`s foreign policy for several decades. Therefore it is important to analyze it both from a fundamental viewpoint and how it practically affects countries` mutual perception.


      "Shared destiny" means that nations gain more from cooperation than competition. It does not mean competition does not exist, but that it should be secondary to cooperation.


      The root of China`s analysis is economic. The founding work of economics, Adam Smith`s The Wealth of Nations, noted: "The greatest improvement in the productive powers …  have been the effect of the division of labour." Countries achieve far higher economic development and living standards by specializing in industries in which they have the greatest resources or skill, and trading and investing in each other, than if they attempt to be self-contained.


      For example, China is very strong in manufacturing but not in oil and gas production. Russia`s strengths are the reverse. Production will be more efficient, and living standards higher, if China exports manufactured goods and imports Russian energy than if each seeks self-sufficiency. 


      Removing tariffs also creates larger markets for each nation`s companies allowing them to produce on a larger scale and more efficiently.


      Therefore, as Xi put it in a slightly different context: "one plus one can be greater than two." By cooperating, countries achieve higher living standards than they could separately - a "win-win" with all participants gaining. This creates "shared destiny" - only by cooperating can each nation achieve the greatest well-being for itself. Mutual benefit created by cooperation yields greater benefits than conflict, creating the basis for overcoming or minimizing regional conflicts.


      Transferred from economics to perception, China`s international projects such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank received global support because they deliver benefits to all participants - not just one country.


      Relations between countries are therefore not "zero sum." As both countries gain from cooperation, one`s gain is not another`s loss. Their "win-win" relations can be based on mutual benefit and equality. This foundation has always existed but is even truer in a globalized economy where, as Xi put it: "Mankind, by living in the same global village …  has increasingly emerged as a community of common destiny in which everyone has in himself a little bit of others."


      The interlinked economic and foreign policy concept of US neocons and similar forces is fundamentally opposed to this. For them the economy`s foundation is not cooperative but competitive. Therefore if one wins another loses - a "zero-sum game." In such a system there is not mutually beneficial cooperation but dominance. As Revising US Grand Strategy Towards China, a recent study for the US Council on Foreign Relations, put it, relations with China should not be equal but "preserving US primacy in the global system ought to remain the central objective of US grand strategy." The goal was to maintain "the US position at the apex of the global hierarchy." This neocon view is sometimes referred to as "US exceptionalism," but it is clearly "US supremacism."


      There are two reasons, reflecting underlying realities, why Xi`s community of shared destiny will succeed against the US supremacism perspective.


      First, other countries will not accept they are inferior to the US - or any other country. They want equality and mutual benefit.


      Second, the US people themselves do not want the neocon concept. When US foreign policy strategists published a collection of essays with the title "To Lead the World," a poll was carried out to test their concepts. It found 75 percent of Americans wanted the US "to do its share together with other nations" - only 10 percent favored a "preeminent" US role and 12 percent "isolationism."


      Perhaps the US people`s idea of their country "doing its share" and Xi`s "shared destiny" have not yet arrived at an identical vocabulary. But given their similarity it should not be difficult to find one.