International relations expert, Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori, discusses the relations between the superpowers in a special Israel Defense Interview
Q: Professor Valori, as a top expert in geopolitics, you know that both China and the United States are superpowers, with China being a communist country and the USA a capitalist country. They differ not so much in ethnicity but in their beliefs and values. What do you think EACH side requires from the other for them to respect and recognize each other as equals and superpowers?
A: As Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on 22 May, the progress that the United States and the People’s Republic of China are making together, including through the working group established by the Glasgow Declaration – Climate Pact – is critical to their joint success in avoiding the worst consequences. Let me explain this further: the difference between the People’s Republic of China and the former Soviet Union in their relations with the United States is that while the latter sought to position itself as the world’s ideological reference point – «I am better than you» – the former, instead, takes precisely the US ongoing progress in every field, from technology to sports, as an example of the long run perspective, in the spirit of one day wanting to state: “I am AS good AS you”.
Again to paraphrase Blinken’s speech at George Washington University, the USA does not want to separate the Chinese economy from the US or the global economy, although China is pursuing asymmetrical decoupling, trying to make the country less dependent on the world and the world more dependent on China – as is the rule for any superpower. The US, Italian or other side wants trade and investment to be fair and not jeopardise each country’s national security. The People’s Republic of China has formidable economic resources, including a highly skilful workforce. The USA is therefore confident that its companies will compete successfully and under conditions of technical superiority, acquired in decades of study and success.
Q: You have worked with China and in China a University has been named after you. The Wuhan Laboratory is both a private and military research institution. Do you believe that the Covid-19 virus was or was not part of China’s biological warfare? Why or why not?
A: As you yourself stated, I am an expert in geopolitics, and not a doctor. If not even distinguished and authoritative luminaries of science and Nobel Prize winners for Medicine, Chemistry, etc. have not managed to come to an agreement, or at least to a common view on the genesis of this evil, imagine what I can say about a pandemic problem: something that has always been going on throughout history, only to disappear and lurk without explanations and logic that can be unanimously accepted – as it was thousands of years ago and still is today. Suffice it to recall the plague, the Spanish epidemic, AIDS, etc.
Q: Many US companies are leaving China due to the recent uprising and its inability to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. How do you think this will impact China’s future as a (so-called) superpower?
A: Should the People’s Republic of China fail to solve this problem in the short term, it is natural that its superpower status would be compromised in the eyes of the international community and of the world’s and China’s public, as well as damaged in terms of trade, etc. Since I am not the only one having these certainties – but first of all Chinese leaders – I am sure that in the short term the issue will be resolved, and US companies will soon be welcome in the country, with the assurance that business will proceed as it did before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof. Giancarlo Elia Valori
A: You have expressed your opinion that China can surely provide a contribution to ending the war between Ukraine and Russia. Yet China has not taken steps to do so, and the war is not only continuing but also escalating. Can you elaborate on the reason why China has not done so if it has a position of power in ending the war?
A: The People’s Republic of China cannot take measures of any kind, as it has no rights or “position of power” – as you pointed out – in another State. At the most it can give advice, act as moderator between the parties. It can possibly play the role of real mediator that an Italian politician – since the beginning of the crisis – had suggested for Angela Merkel, although his suggestion went unheeded. On the US side, Henry Kissinger would be equally authoritative and influential as the former German Chancellor.
Q: While there is a lot of animosity against China in the USA and against the United States in China, we still continue to work together, despite sanctions, collaborating on technology research. How can the ordinary people understand this?
A: When not influenced by mass media, social media, agitators, instigators and provocateurs of whatever stripe, the ordinary US citizen may realise that if the US establishment deems right to compete with its Chinese counterpart, no one should have the right to challenge the White House’s choices.
Animosity is not part of the spirit of the insiders – and I am talking about politicians of the highest level, as well as business leaders – but stems from frustration on the part of the segments of the US classes that feel dissatisfied with the actions of the federal government and think they cannot enjoy the American Way of Life to the fullest: just think of how much resentment has built up since the 2007 economic crisis in large segments of the population.
Q: In your book you describe China’s progress in Artificial Intelligence. What do you feel is its most significant advance?
A: There are many significant advances, but I believe that great strides have been made in the humanoid cybernetic module.
Q: How can China hope to declare itself a legitimate “science and technology power by 2050” and General Secretary Xi Jinping make the acquisition of “key core technologies a national goal of China when much of their technology has been stolen from the USA?
A: I do not think that Chinese technology has been stolen from the United States. The confidence shown by the USA in the keen preservation of patents and technology is not naive, and it would never have important industrial secrets naively taken away. Let us say that China’s ability to interpret and reverse-engineer the relevant purchases made abroad and not just in the United States of America, plus China’s traditional acumen, intelligence, and scientific progress, have been able to advance Chinese scientific achievements.
Giancarlo Elia Valori