A ‘cold war’ between China and the US is inevitable and it will have consequences for smaller countries that can be turned into proxies for the two powers, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer, claims.
In a conversation with the Pakistani journalist Ejaz Haider in an online session, Mearsheimer said that what he meant by a cold war is that there will be an intense security competition between the two sides, which will definitely create a crisis.
“But it’s hard to say for sure whether there will actually be a shooting war, but that danger will always be present. And that was basically the situation we had during the first Cold War. And again, my argument is that we are destined to be in a similar situation moving forward,” he adds.
Mearsheimer said China’s focus will primarily be Asia, and it will try every trick to dominate the region and be the hegemon.
“I think there is a likelihood that Pakistan would side with China and the US would try to peel off Pakistan from China in the emerging Cold War. The Indians would ally with the US. The Americans would try to get Myanmar in its fold”.
“China is going to try to dominate Asia, the way the United States dominates the western hemisphere. Now the question you have to ask yourself is why is this the case.
“The fact is that in the international system there is no higher authority that can protect states. As we like to say in academia, the international is anarchic,” he adds, saying that this means there is no higher authority, there’s no international body that can help you if you get into trouble.
He contends that the most likely point for the confrontation of the world powers would be the East China Sea. He did not rule out the use of nuclear arsenal, which he said, would be catastrophic for the world.
“China was once very weak – from the late 1840s until the late 1940s. They call this hundred-year period the century of national humiliation. The Chinese understand that when you are weak other great powers tend to take advantage of you.
So, the simple message that the Chinese take away from their history is that you want to be as powerful as possible,” he adds.
Answering a question about whether Biden will be more effective against China, Mearsheimer said, “The great advantage of Biden over Trump is that Biden is a multilateralist. Biden will be able to work with our allies and put together a balancing coalition, hopefully, an effective balancing coalition that can contain China.”
“So, I think, from the Chinese point of view, the coming of Biden is bad news, in large part because Biden will be more effective at crafting an effective containment policy than Trump was. I think Trump’s basic instinct that China had to be contained was correct, but he went about it a ham-fisted way. He was basically incompetent in terms of executing the policy that we needed to deal with China,” he adds.
According to Prof. Mearsheimer, over time, Russia is likely to switch sides and ally with the US against China as the latter was a greater threat to Russia, compared to the US. He, however, expressed hope that the two world powers would cooperate in climate change and pandemic situations.