Joseph Nye, distinguished service professor at Harvard University and former US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs
China doesn't pose existential threat to the US and the US doesn't, either. If we can avoid miscalculation, there is no reason the system has to break down into war.
Pessimists talk about Thucydides' trap, which I think is wrong. One of the most interesting things about the recent speech of US Vice President Mike Pence is that he said he does not aim to decouple China and the US. That's very important. That means people who say China and the US are approaching a new cold war are mistaken.
In the real Cold War, there was almost no trade or basically no social contact between the US and the Soviet Union. China-US is different as there are 375,000 Chinese students in the US, so it is not a cold war.
In the overall relationship between China and the US, there is much more both countries gained from cooperation than just competition. There are bigger issues that both countries face, such as counterterrorism and climate change. There is no way that any one country can solve these issues alone.
Although the US under President Donald Trump's administration quit the Paris climate agreement, I predict whoever the next president is, the US will rejoin as the climate issue becomes more and more important both to our lives and politics. Even if we have differences, we should overcome them and face all the areas that could lead to decoupling or poisoning the relationship. We should start focusing more on areas where cooperation is central to both countries and the world.
Wang Yizhou, professor at the School of International Studies of Peking University
My biggest concern is global disintegration intensifying further. It is not only the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, but also includes its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as well as its failing to grant visas in time or rejecting visas to Chinese space officials for an international event in Washington DC. Not only the US but also other major countries are also strengthening self-protection and censorship, which have been stepped up with higher frequency. I am particularly worried that such decoupling will stop China from achieving the momentum of its reform and opening-up and deal with major issues. Now there is a point of view that it is better to set more barriers and impose more constraints on other opponents.
However, I am cautiously optimistic about the future of international relations, because I found that this decoupling phenomenon is periodic. This cycle may last for three to five years or more. There is such a cycle in world politics as well. It is the instinctive response of most countries during a downturn in globalization. But with the development of technology and science, including more people acquiring knowledge, people will have a clearer understanding of the side effects of disintegration.
Shivshankar Menon, former national security advisor to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh
Peace and stability made it possible for countries like China and India to go through tremendous growth in the last 40 years. The world is already multipolar. There isn't a simple political order left which the world can look to for settling disputes, building relations, and providing global public goods such as the security of sea lanes and cyber space.
There are already two internets in the world today and at least three views of how the internet should be governed: the US view; the Russian and Chinese view that depends on sovereignty; and the views of the EU and several other countries.
So what should we do when the world is breaking down into separate orders? My answer is that we need to build issue-based correlations. Depending on the pattern, countries that can help develop rules of law or norms and that can follow those rules should work together. And the correlations should be open to everybody.
George Yeo, former Singaporean foreign affairs minister
Since China's entry into the WTO in 2001, Chinese economy has grown eight times in RMB terms and 10 times in US dollars terms. China is still growing and because of its speed and growth, China is causing fear and misunderstanding. Chinese understand the US more than Americans understand China, which means China has a responsibility. Chinese people would either laugh or even cry if they listen to Trump's speech because it is so away from reality. China is a system with values, organized stability and strategic discipline. In the US, the system is very different.
Volker Perthes, executive chairman of the Board and director of German Institute for International and Security Affairs
What concerns me is the new paradigm of looking at international relations through the lens of great power conflicts. There is a spectrum of a divided world or one world with two systems in a way of different technological and economic scales that don't cooperate. Some countries and generations would not want to give up on unifying this interdependent world of countries, peoples and societies working together across borders. The second trend which is of concern is the geopolitical rivalry particularly between China and the US. The rivalry is putting enormous pressure on the normative principles that underline our international system.