Beijing: A week after some saw the advent of a new world order at the G20 in London, the idea of a “G2” that would put the United States and China at the head of international affairs is gathering momentum.
But analysts say the concept of “Chimerica,” meant to reflect a new geostrategic situation created by China’s unprecedented rise in power, is neither realistic nor likely to appeal to Beijing.
First raised in US academic circles in 2006, the idea was floated again by former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in Beijing in January as the two nations celebrated 30 years of diplomatic ties.
The concept has attracted a lot of interest from Chinese researchers and columnists, particularly since the G20 meeting last week.
Brzezinski, who was also an adviser to Barack Obama during his electoral campaign, suggested an “informal G2” for discussions “not just about bilateral relationships, but about the world in general.”
In his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in London, Obama took a step in that direction, agreeing to “strengthen ties at all levels” with Beijing.
The two also launched a fresh strategic dialogue to be held each year that would cover issues as varied as the economy, the environment, and relations with Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
The concept of the G2 “is supported by those in the United States who are favourable to a strategy of cooperation with Beijing, in contrast to the neoconservatives’ view of the ‘Chinese threat,'” said Valerie Niquet, director of Paris-based research organisation Centre Asie Ifri.
This strategy is tempting at a time when the G8 is regarded by some as obsolete and the G20 is seen as too diluted to be able to respond to global challenges.
Meanwhile the financial crisis has highlighted the interdependence of the world’s number one and three economies, while the battle against climate change has shown that the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases must work together.
“On a lot of issues the only two real partners are China and the United States,” said Jean-Francois Di Meglio, vice president of the Paris-based research group Asia Centre.
What would hold back the partnership, he said, is the Chinese yuan.
“There is the big world creditor (China) and the big world debtor (the United States). But the big creditor has a currency that is not convertible. That’s the argument that kills the G2,” Di Meglio said.
Moreover, the Chinese might be “in a process that is moving them closer to the concept of a G2, (but) they definitely do not want that to show that as it would give them lots of responsibilities,” he said.
Although China desires recognition, a G2 would go against its long-standing preference for multilateralism that allows it to form partnerships and solid relations around the globe.
“China has never looked to lead the world, it only follows a trend of development,” said Liu Yuhui, a researcher at China’s Academy of Social Sciences.
Some of the Chinese elite, however, fascinated by the American model, are favourable to “Chimerica.”
The concept “has the huge merit… of proving China’s global power, which cannot be ignored,” said Niquet.
Nevertheless, she also pointed that other world powers would be unhappy with the concept.
“(G2) would obviously go against Russia’s diplomatic game that aims to convey the image of a multilateral front to Washington,” she said.
It would also be unacceptable for Japan “for reasons of security and leadership,” Niquet said.