“Misleading” to Say China, U.S. Entering a Cold War: Joseph Nye


World-renowned U.S. political scientist Joseph Nye said it’s “misleading” to say that China and the United States are entering a new Cold War, as the two countries have great economic, social and ecological interdependence.

Addressing a recent think tank forum in Beijing, Nye, Harvard University’s distinguished service professor, emeritus and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government, stressed that China and the United States are much more closely linked than the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“I think the metaphor of the Cold War misleads us,” Nye said. “If you look back at the real Cold War, you’ll notice there was military interdependence between the United States and the Soviet Union, but almost no economic interdependence and very little social interaction.”

“Whereas if you look at the relationship between the United States and China today, there’s enormous economic interdependence, and there’s also social interdependence,” he added.

Nye spoke at the 8th China Global Think Tank Innovation Forum, jointly held by the Center for China and Globalization and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

The professor cited what he called “ecological interdependence” concerning issues like pandemics and climate change, “which were not major problems during the real Cold War.”

As the world faces a rise in transnational threats, the stakes are higher for China and the United States to cooperate, according to Nye.

“We have to think of how do we reconcile both competition and cooperation at the same time. Because if we fail to do that, we’re going to all suffer, not just the United States and China, but the world climate and the world economy,” Nye warned.

Nye listed global pandemics, climate change, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the application of Artificial Intelligence to military affairs as common issues that both countries must deal with together.

To better cooperate, Nye hinted that the two countries need to work on a more equal footing.

“The idea that we have to cooperate on climate change strikes me as another example of ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over,'” Nye said.