China’s articulation of a vision of international order may be in its early stages. But some central elements are out – time for Europe and the US to start working on an answer.
Prospects for crisis resolution in the Asia-Pacific are better than between Russia and the West. Despite abundant conflicts, none of the major powers in the region tries to actively destabilise the other – leaving room for informal compromise and ad-hoc arrangements to maintain peace.
China did not feature prominently at this year’s MSC. But the participation of Fu Ying, Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, in a panel discussion moderated by MERICS director Sebastian Heilmann made clear: China is willing to get involved, albeit hesitantly and according to its own rules.
The Munich Security Conference so far mainly provides an opportunity to talk about China, but not with China. Europeans need to improve the channels to engage Asia and China in security dialogues.
China’s overdue structural reforms, rapidly increasing debt, growing industrial overcapacities combine to produce declining growth in spite of monetary and fiscal stimulus efforts. This current situation displays many analogies with Japan’s economic turbulence in the early 1990s, but carries a much graver risk of social and political destabilisation.
China’s leaders want to establish the yuan as a global asset and transaction currency. But this won’t work as long as exchange rates are driven by conflicting domestic policy targets rather than by global markets.
The old world order – the Pax Americana - is falling apart. What does China think about all of this? Beijing realises that it needs to do more to maintain a reasonable minimum of international order – and that it needs to work with the United States towards that purpose.