Forget the G2

by | Feb 19, 2010

Yale’s Jeffrey Garten thinks America needs to face up to a key fact: it doesn’t have the leverage to deal with China on its own. So, he says, it needs to partner up with others:

It doesn’t take a genius to see that America needs more help in dealing with China. That’s why we must shift from what is primarily a bilateral and at times unilateral, pound-the-chest approach to one involving more support from other key countries, many of whom are also having big problems with China, including the European Union and India.

This enhanced multilateralism must be based on at least two premises that are hard to discern in U.S. policy today. The first is that China is not just bursting on the global stage, but rather is changing the world as it does so. Put another way, we can forget about trying to force China into conforming to Western rules and institutions without allowing the country a big voice in reshaping those arrangements to serve its own needs. Secondly, the U.S. and its partners are better off compromising with China on these arrangements so long as they have rules and enforcement mechanisms. The key goal must be to encourage China to obey laws and regulations that are agreed upon.

Not sure I’m wholly convinced that Van Rompuy and his travelling circus are the missing link in getting China to be a constructive world citizen – but hey, we can dream.


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

More from Global Dashboard

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Our COVID Future: The Long Crisis Scenarios

Created in partnership with: COVID-19 marks a turning point in the 21st century.​ Levels of uncertainty are off the chart, making predictions impossible. ​But if we can create plausible stories about different futures, we create a...

Protecting our Critical Global Infrastructure

Protecting our Critical Global Infrastructure

Earlier this week, we published Shooting the Rapids – COVID-19 and the Long Crisis of Globalisation. In the final section, we present a plan for collective action at the global level with four elements:  Firefight better – getting the emergency response...