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How Great Powers Should Compete

Summary:
Both China and the West espouse some version of multilateralism. But unfettered strategic competition, together with relentlessly negative rhetoric, precludes effective multilateralism, not least by disrupting trade and technology transfer – a crucial driver of development. MILAN – At the recent G7 and NATO gatherings, China was singled out as a strategic competitor, a calculating trading partner, a technological and national-security threat, a human-rights violator, and a champion of authoritarianism globally. China denounced these characterizations, which its embassy in the United Kingdom called “lies, rumors, and baseless accusations.” The risks that such rhetoric poses should not be underestimated.

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Both China and the West espouse some version of multilateralism. But unfettered strategic competition, together with relentlessly negative rhetoric, precludes effective multilateralism, not least by disrupting trade and technology transfer – a crucial driver of development.

MILAN – At the recent G7 and NATO gatherings, China was singled out as a strategic competitor, a calculating trading partner, a technological and national-security threat, a human-rights violator, and a champion of authoritarianism globally. China denounced these characterizations, which its embassy in the United Kingdom called “lies, rumors, and baseless accusations.” The risks that such rhetoric poses should not be underestimated.

Many in the West disapprove of China’s single-party governance structure, just as vocal elements in China disparage Western...

Michael Spence
Nobel Prize in economics, Economics professor at Stern School of Business NYU, author of The Next Convergence

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