New cold war between US and China unlikely: Tang Prize winner


Singapore, Nov. 22 (CNA) A new cold war between the United States and China resembling that between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 20th century is unlikely, but a rivalry could be inevitable, Wang Gungwu (王 賡 武), the Tang prize winner in sinology, said recently.

The United States might be tempted to follow the same 20th century strategy to counter China, but it will recognize that the world has changed, leading to a new approach bordering on a Cold War, Wang, 91, predicted in a statement. interview with CNA. .

Singaporean historian, sinologist and writer of Indonesian descent was named the 2020 Tang Prize winner in Sinology in June 2020 for his research on the Chinese world order, overseas Chinese and the experience of Chinese migration .

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Tang Prize ceremony did not take place until Saturday.

Asked about the state of US-China relations and their potential impact on world order, Wang said that Joe Biden’s administration decided to seek alliances similar to those used to defeat the Soviet Union during the Cold War. .

This “old formula” has been successful in the past, but “it’s like” old wine in a new bottle, “” Wang said, referring to China as the new bottle and Cold War strategy. like old wine.

“The temptation to use strategy to defeat China is strong. If that temptation is carried out, you could have a Cold War situation,” Wang said.

There appears to be “a reluctance on the part of the White House to come to terms with this policy” and to go too far with the old method, however, in part because of the difference between China and the Soviet Union, especially in terms economic, he argued.

The United States will have to think of a different way of approaching China because it is a different kind of power, an approach that “is more cooperative, competitive by all means, but which avoids being an adversary.” , avoids making an enemy of China ”, Wang. suggested.

There may not be a cold war, but “there will be competition, (and) rivalry may be inevitable.”

The “Chinese dream”

What the United States’ strategies in China will look like and how they will affect the world order is difficult to say at this time, he said.

“What is evident is that the West, led by the United States, would like to preserve the present order as it is, to defend what it has called the rules-based international order, l market economy, and would ensure that the Chinese do not mine it and do not replace the current world order. “

China has trumpeted the concept of a “Chinese dream” that some in the West have interpreted as Beijing’s attempt to take over the world, but Wang doesn’t see it that way.

He said overseas Chinese would be very happy to feel safe, respected and trusted in Chinese culture and values ​​and that China is right to preserve the traditions of the past and make them more appreciated by others.

“I imagine that the ‘Chinese dream’ does not go beyond this. If you can make the world look at China with respect and admiration, it would satisfy the ‘Chinese dream’,” Wang argued.

Win the Tang Prize

Wang was born in Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1930 to learned Chinese parents and was educated in British Malaysia and London. This shaped the researcher and the areas for which he won the sinology award.

“Since the late 1950s, Wang Gungwu has published pioneering works on the history of Imperial China, China and Southeast Asia, and on the evolution of Chinese identities in Southeast Asia. According to the Tang Prize Foundation.

“As a leading historian on Sino-Southeast Asian relations, he is developing a unique approach to understanding China by examining its long and complex relationship with its southern neighbors,” the foundation said.

Wang told CNA he was honored to receive the award and congratulated Tang Prize founder Samuel Yin (尹衍樑) for recognizing sinology as an important area of ​​work and the foundation for a larger vision. of sinology.

Sinology, or Chinese studies, covers not only literature, history and philosophy, but also other aspects of the Chinese tradition of governance, new methods of governance, new types of families, new types of societies and the Chinese industrial revolution, he said.

“Given that, [Sinology] cannot be limited to what is in the past and belongs to museums. You want it to cover something alive, dynamic, changing. You need a different kind of [Sinology]. “

The Tang Prize is a biennial award created in 2012 by Yin, President of the Ruentex Group, to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in four categories: sustainability, biopharmaceutical science, sinology, and rule of law.

(By Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)

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